You’re Class, I’m Trash LP
(Voodoo Rhythm Records)
Arguably the greatest compliment one can pay to a punk record is not to call it “good” or “great” or anything like that (because such terms can be – and have been – dismissed as a matter of opinion or as a matter of perception), but to simply exclaim, “You’ve gotta hear this” to as many potentially receptive ears as possible. Word tends to travel fast, that way; that’s why Green Day and the Offspring didn’t break through until their third album hit, and NOFX got there with their fifth – fans noticed and helped to spread word far and wide. It might seem unfair or unlikely but, at least in punk circles, word of mouth is still a great sales tool and hearing is believing; all of which is why this critic is going to try and get ahead of the proverbial curve and tell listeners that they need to hear You’re Class, I’m Trash – the eighth album by The Monsters.
As soon as needle catches groove and “Gimme Germs” (which, in 2022, during a pandemic, feels like the single most potentially infamous song title on the books) opens the A-side of You’re Class, I’m Trash, listeners will understand why they needed to hear this album right away. From the first few bars of “Gimme Germs,” singer/guitarist Beat-Man Zeller hits the ground running and sounds as though he’s spitting the two-word refrain through clenched teeth – like he’s on the meanest amphetamine rush of his life (a notion further fleshed out by the speed and tone of his guitar performance – which sounds similar to that of Mickey Melchiondo on Ween’s “It’s Gonna Be A Long Night”) – but there’s no cottonmouth about it; the speed is there, but also a sense of mania which is instantly exciting and, when the song ends after about a minute and a half, anyone who was ever a fan of Ween or hardcore bands like Off! Or Circle Jerks will be clamoring for more. The tone and speed of “Gimme Germs” is the perfect kind of medicine for those who have found hardcore a little too humorless lately; it’s still tight as hell, but it’s also fun like NOFX and Descendents usually are.
After “Gimme Germs” gets listeners lined up and ready, “Smell My Tongue” follows up with a similar but more sophomoric sound (Smell my tongue – it’s brown” just sounds more than a little willfully dumb) but rebounds really well as “Carpool Lane” and “Dead” follow up with an angrier swagger which doesn’t feel as manic but is definitely ready for a fight. Through both songs, Zeller mimics Jon Spencer’s penchant for using as few lyrics as possible (between them, the two songs utilize a total of three words for lyrics) – which, it could be argued, make them really hard to forget. Of course, some critics may call such willful simplicity boring or aggravating, on the wrong day, but the fact is that both the band and the album have more than enough raw personality to keep anything The Monsters have chosen to commit to tape interesting. It’s for that reason too that, when The Monsters come closer to more conventional songwriting forms (read: verses and choruses which require more than two words each), the results are surprising and almost novel.
Still more novelties appear as soon as listeners flip the record over and wait breathlessly to see what the B-side holds for them. “Yellow Snow Drinks” opens the B-side and, again, lines up an awkward surprise as the band crosses country music (again, Ween-style) with bathroom humor (a la Frank Zappa – “Watch out where the huskies go”) with self-harm, children’s shows and candy for about two minutes. Depending on how deeply one chooses to dig into “Yellow Snow Drinks,” (or any song on You’re Class, I’m Trash, for that matter), listeners run the very real risk of getting offended by the obvious lack of tact and propriety that some of the songs on the album showcase pretty proudly (particularly “Yellow Show Drinks”) but, as long as long as listeners let the running remain light, they’ll find that the running remains un-hobbled. In fact, they may even find that the songs which feature expanded lyric sheets on the B-side (like “Electrobike Asshole” and, to a slightly lesser degree, “Get Drunk On You” and “Devil Baby”)are absolutely remarkable. As the side spins, listeners may ultimately reach the conclusion that the band can do no wrong and, by the time the needle lifts, be ready to run through the album all over again. Why? The reasoning is simple: as was the case with The Stooges, The Vaselines, Round Eye and other bands who do not labor over complicated forms The Monsters tap into a pure energy and innocence which is fantastic. It’s simple and listeners will find they crave that simplicity, before long. It’s not perfect and certainly not perfectly safe – listeners may find that they snag themselves on a sharp or un-milled edge on any number of songs in this runtime – but it’ll still be fun and exciting because both the band and listeners came through You’re Class, I’m Trash without injury. And after they make it throughYou’re Class, I’m Trash once, they’ll want to do it again and again.
“Hey readers, you’ve gotta hear this!” [Bill Adams]
The You’re Class, I’m Trash LP is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.