May 01, 2012

Long ago an idea suggested itself to me and such was its seductive powers that I remained under its spell for quite some time. It was the notion of a kind of nomenclature of punk, suggesting that all punk bands more or less fit into a category based on the prototypical first-wave punk bands of 1977: Sex Pistols Punk, Ramones Punk, Clash Punk, and Dead Boys Punk. For a long time that idea nested comfortably in my head, until finally it collapsed under the weight of its own ridiculousness. On a related note, one of the ideas currently nesting in my head is that categorizing is akin to trying to mummify a still-living thing. But the proto-punk-category idea is still an idea I like to trot out every so often, almost as a sort of parlor game. So you’re probably wondering: where does the band Highway Gimps fit in this particular schema? I asked myself that question and ascertained that they fit, with a little help from my critic’s shoehorn, into the Clash Punk category. Which might boil down to meaning that this band has a self-conscious, slightly artsy feel to them. But in all honesty, that’s such a crude classification, that it’s practically useless. To be fair, The Highway Gimps are very much their own monster, with hanging boils and hairy patches and twisting horns that simply prevent them from fitting neatly into any category. As I listen to the disc right now, I’m thinking that it sounds a bit like a lighter, looser, janglier Hot Water Music with occasional surf guitar undercurrents. Sort of tough and dirty in some places, and a little college-radio alterno-cute in other places. So, you see, it’s not so much that it nicely fits the Clash Punk classification, but more that it just so obviously doesn’t even begin to fit any of the other categories. Whatever strain of punk you want to link them too, this musical sampling could benefit immensely from the flying sweat and the spit and the grit that the environment of a live performance brings. The bottom line is this: this disc is just a little soft around the edges—dare I say, even a little on the gimpy side. But I can easily imagine that, performed live in some stinking, cramped little cement letterbox of a room, this distant relative to the Clash could come across as something more dangerous than a mewling invalid.

 –Aphid Peewit (Self-released)

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