SAHUA: Arm a Ghetto: CDEP

Full disclosure up front: I’ve been friends with both Tito and Billy (Sahua’s vocalist/rhythm guitarist and bassist, respectively) for more than half my life (and did time in Plain Agony, Los Traviesos and Ollin with one, the other or both) and remember when their lead guitarist (and Tito’s son) Michael was but a few days old. Does that bias me favorably towards their music? Maybe, but my affinity for their musical efforts (Tito was singer for the legendary Chainsaw Blues, which changed its name to The Fingers and became a trash punk institution; and Billy has been in tons of off-kilter L.A. punk acts, including Trash Can School, Aphrodesian Heads, and Jazz from Hell, to name a few) has always been an honest one. Both have much in their past of which they can be proud, and this latest venture is no exception. As illustrated by both the sly appropriation of the cover layout of the Circle Jerks’ Group Sex and the drawing of a gun-toting Virgen de Guadalupe inside, they incorporate non-punk influences amassed over the years into a punk sound and come up with something decidedly different in approach and content from the slew of vapid pop punkers whoring for the elusive big money label deal. From the outset, the music is a rough and tumble ride of both subtle experimentation with form and primal thud-punk reminiscent of proto-hardcore bands like the Cheifs and The Klan, while the poetic lyrics address the use of fear as a tool for population control, the appropriation of religious imagery, fascism, police brutality, and the plight of both the poor in southern Mexico and the hundreds of murdered women in northern Mexico. Though some of the songs may run a little on the long side, the strongest of the five tracks here is the longest, “Sheriff’s Gonna Die,” which pulses with righteous anger and recounts a bleak reality many of us know too well: “Count the black and whites/Count the flashing lights/Chasing cars at night/Better run the end is near/Believe in what you hear/The force the rounds are here/To knock your voice down.” All told, this is some good stuff.

 –jimmy (