Heroine Sheiks CD review [Rubric]

Music Reviews
Heroine Sheiks CD review [Rubric]
Oct 1, 2002, 14:21


Legendary Cows front-man Shannon Selberg and guitarist Norm Westberg (Swans, Foetus—and most recently late of The Heroine Sheiks, according to the website) are back, flipping off listeners of “critically acclaimed” music and slinging excrement at polite society. Selberg has been antagonizing club goers with bizarre theatrics and absurd costumes for nearly two decades. The pay surely sucks, but he's managed to annoy and anger thousands during his tenure. It's a subversive convention that's punker than punk: make a product that seems unsubtle and harsh on the ears and speaks of society's ugly underbelly in reverent and often comical tones, one that excites neither the mosh pit wardens nor the melody whistlers, and get it in front of as many folks as possible. Out of the horrified masses will shake a few knowing souls who embrace the degenerate nature of the product. The results can be seen when The Heroine Sheiks visit a new venue in a foreign town: dozens of uncomfortable scenesters and innocent bystanders clinging tightly to cocktails at the back bar trying to figure out what the freak with the drawn-on mustache on stage is so exercised about while the knowing few stumble along to the beat near the stage like bobble-head zombies (some of this very subject matter is even covered on “Mas Suicide”). Okay, enough already… to the disc at hand. It's better than the last one, Rape on the Installment Plan, which is a pretty high bar to leap, since that one was so uniformly excellent. The music itself is inspired, with pieces of forceful, straight-ahead guitar crunch falling amongst the demented, often herky-jerky debris at precisely the right points, and a thunderous bass and artfully selective drum play providing a perfect canvass for Selberg's dark short stories. The whining, tinkling keyboards will keep you up at night, like horror-film circus music. Selberg starts off with a swing at the U.S.'s recent military adventures, which seems out of place, as alley-slinking misanthropes aren't supposed to be concerned with geopolitics. Oh well, it works. The disc then moves on to more of the usual: armed robbery, broken relationships, shitty day jobs, sexual predation, attempted murder, etc. Want scary? How about The Heroine Sheiks' take on 12-bar blues, featuring subject matter fittingly concerned with pederasty (“Schoolgirl”). Join the knowing few and embrace the despair. [Rubric]

-Bo Pogue

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