Some bands court confrontation, using it to involve their audiences in ways most people aren’t accustomed to or comfortable with. There are many ways a band could do this, from bizarre performances to purposefully offensive lyrics to even arranging their entire aesthetic to provoke their listeners. Chattanooga noise-punk band MudSex counts themselves among these bands whose work is meant to antagonize but is also built on a solid foundation of inspired creativity and brutal guitar riffs.
The vocals are howled, building to a crescendo of shrieked manifestos, while guitars, basses and bits of drum kits lay shattered in the music’s wake. Composed of singer Josh Allen, singer-guitarist Josh Mayfield, bassist Allen Beltran and drummer Jim Barnette, the band spits brimstone in their quest to fashion a maniacal punk sound. But even in this brew of caustic lyrics and even more acidic arrangements, they know their way around a memorable chorus. The music would be dead without this ability to infuse these harsh landscapes with something resembling a melody.
On their latest record, “Remedial Vacation Bible School Gang Bang,” the band tears through 13 vicious tracks that scorch the earth around them. But they’re not going to let you dig in without some effort. Just by reading the name of the record, you can tell that MudSex revels in making you uneasy, and with titles such as “Sex Offender Blues” and “Lake Flacid,” you don’t have to look far to feel that effect. It’s a gifted group of musicians wanting to force you to participate in the experience of their music. There’s no sideline activity here. You’re either throwing elbows in the pit or walking back to your car.
Although this kind of musical antagonism can be off-putting at first glance, it shouldn’t deter you from digging into the record and seeing it for the barrage of punk fury that it is. Yes, you’re going to hear songs called “Welfare Taco” and “It’s Not the Herpes I’m Afraid Of, It’s the Commitment,” but take the acerbic satire and hostility, and hear how the band uses them to require your contributions to the atmosphere of the music. Personally, I came to this record far too late—it was released last year on Mayfield’s own WereOpossum Records imprint—but I would unreservedly recommend it for those who possess an affection for bands like X-Ray Spex and Black Flag.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.