A band returning to record material years after the fact isn’t unheard of: the Sloths put out an album on Burger, 50 years after recording their only single, “Makin’ Love,” in 1965, and it’s absolutely fantastic. But for a band to return 40 years later to the material and seemingly be angrier than the majority of most young punks? It’s positively astonishing.
As they state: “This album contains the same bunch of songs we did back in the late ‘70s […] but recorded 40 years after the fact. The band is the same, except that Rob, who is still dead, has been replaced by our pal Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets.”
Exterminators’ Product of America is angry — no, it’s furious. The band puts forth the kind of rage that can only come from three men finding the topics which they were singing about, circa ‘79, to be still relevant. I mean, granted, there’s still songs about getting oral sex (“Gimmie Head”) and even a Samuel Beckett poem (“Serena II”), but the sheer pissed-offedness of vocalist Johnny Macho on the likes of opener “I Hate You” and “I Don’t Give A Fuck” belies the fact that these are dudes pushing (if not well inside) their 60s.
The ripping chords of guitarist Buzzy Murder is complimented by the pounding low end of drummer Don Bolles and Meat Puppet Cris Kirkwood on bass. This album sounds far better than one would think for a bunch of guys getting back to it decades after. The likes of Death’s new material made me think that this was going to be a bunch of stepped-down proto-rockers, but Exterminators’ Product of America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other Phoenix area punk rock. For real — this is just as good as anything on This Is Phoenix Not The Circle Jerks.
The sound is 100% robust, and the louder you crank this, the better it sounds. It’s frighteningly well-produced by bassist Kirkwood, who does exactly as one would hope: he takes modern recording technology and lets the band rip out track after track in a way which captures their natural energy and anger, without having it distorted and blown out.
Ugh. I hate the font for the album title and tracklisting. It’s a standard kind of “punk” font, and just makes Product of America look kind of cheap. I’m not saying you have to handwrite everything or get someone to create a new typography for you, but using a couple of typefaces that come with your copy of Photoshop — combined with a lot of imagery ran through a solarization filter — just makes Exterminators’ record look cheap. The cover’s not bad, but again: that typeface.
The collage in the liner notes looks a lot better, featuring the band present-day, surrounded by flyers from their original go-round. The flipside’s a history of Exterminators, both in their heyday and newly-relaunched formation. The inner sleeve is printed, and even though the artwork and typography is a little chintzy, it’s still nice to see the label go the extra mile. The blue vinyl looks amazing, as well.
Product of America is available from Slope Records.