Label: Fainting Room Collective
Released: October 2009
There’s no doubt that the Family Curse really like noise in general and the Butthole Surfers in particular. The opening track certainly makes no bones about it, but also shows that they don’t quite get it. It’s random and pointless and they miss that even the wild abandon of the Buttholes and the better of their ilk had direction even when it wasn’t particularly discernible. There was always the notion, swimming around in the music somewhere, that there was some point. By “Laughing My Way to the Bank,” it seems quite clear that that’s what this band would be doing if this record took off. However, “Back in the Water” begins to turn the corner. It’s every bit as crazy as the first two tracks, but it has purpose and that purpose gives it form. It begins to break down as it meanders through what amount to two other songs within it, but at least the album looks like it’s going somewhere. Much of the album continues to struggle as it wanders through their contrived stabs at shallow darkness.
All hope is not lost however. On the album’s second to last tune (though tune seems like such a stretch for these exercises in dissonance), “Exodus from Birds in the Night,” they draw on a higher school of noise – John Zorn. While they’re still nowhere near joining his league (well, who is?), the song’s subtleties are more moving and deep and its excellence not only saves the album, but sheds some light on the rest of the music, making all but their worst moments at least a little more interesting.
White Medicine spends too much time trying and too little time being and that’s i’s serious flaw. However, dismissing it entirely or dismissing the Family Curse would be a mistake. There’s something there if only they can simply allow that to happen. Aside from one fantastic track, this record isn’t very good, but this a band that clearly has a good record in them.
If you’re curious about my rating categories, read the description.