Jul 23, 2010

The Scrotum Poles. Revelation.

I assume that when you've named yourselves The Scrotum Poles you're not expecting chart success, or that many bookings (of course, you could say the same thing for The Butthole Surfers, and things turned out OK for them). I figured it was a riff on The Sex Pistols, but the band claims the name came from a book called The Choirboys. I'll let you write your own Catholic Priest joke.

They did pretty well for themselves considering they mostly recorded in their bedroom to two-track tapes. The one time they went into a studio proper, the sound engineer realized that all their instruments were incorrectly tuned and spent the afternoon putting them to rights, only to be forced to detune them when the band couldn't figure out how to play their songs in the proper key.

I first heard them on one of the Messthetics compilations where their song Pick the Cat's Eye's Out was one of the clear standouts. (I should point out that "cat's eyes" are what the British call highway reflectors, and that the band is not singing about blinding helpless kitties.) According to the band, they found the lyrics written on the back of a set list left behind by another group, Bread Poultice and the Running Sores. Yes, I'm sure that sort of thing happened all the time back then.

The record starts out with a great bit of down-tempo post-punk melancholy, Why Don't You Come Out Tonight, which puts me in the mind of Seventeen Second's strumminess. Then there's Night Train, which may or may not sound like a cross between LiLiPUT and the Swell Maps. After that they go pop, and they do it really well. There's the aforementioned Cat's Eyes, and sing-along Helicopter Honeymoon. Radio Tay rounds things out with some straight up punk.

It's all brilliant. Like most DIY bands, they make up for lack of skills with outsized enthusiasm, but even beneath the poor recording equipment (and residual vinyl pops and crackles) it's obvious they knew how to write a great pop song, which is no simple thing.

Here they are charmingly acting like a bunch of adorable dweebs.


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