Cheap Meat brings together Philly’s Jazz Adam with friends across the country for a cathartic, catchy collaboration
Los Angeles and Philly are worlds apart, separated by an American land mass that mutates and evolves before your eyes while viewing it from the backseat of a rusting Ford on a cross country trip. But four folks scattered across both towns have managed to fuse LA’s shape-shifting noise rock scene and Philly’s post-feminist noise punk into four tasty blasts — this is Cheap Meat (members listed on their Bandcamp as Jazz, Augie, T, and Sam) and the music you’re hearing, in all it’s entropic, giant bass amp falling down the basement steps and into the drum set glory, is Let’s Eat, the band’s first EP.
This is shit is an unhinged, and yet totally cohesive banger of a tape. Jazz, the lyricist (formerly of Old Maybe), attacks the mic one minute with lines like “You think you know me but you never really got to know me / Face me you fucking prick!” as they rail against past tumultuous relationships, and the next they’re navigating personal maelstroms with a delivery detached and monotone. All of this over wild, electro-inspired beats, part Go-Go’s on whatever fancy new designer drug is hot in Venice Beach these days, part ESG, part turn of the century post-(ugh, dare I say!) riot grrl. In a perfect world, Brian Eno would be clamoring to dust off his cow bell and 16 track for a follow up to seminal no wave compilation NO NEW YORK for a chance to record this Cheap Meat record, or perhaps Thurston Moore would be name-dropping these guys on 120 Minutes before reluctantly showing a Smithereens video. Again. But we live in this world — post-COVID, where bands like Cheap Meat send tracks across the American wasteland via the internet, and, despite the digitization, can still create music as discordant, blistering, and raw as this.
From the discomforting opener “Ages” where Jazz calls out skeevy ex-partners, the band is fully submerged in their own chaotic world. The song is all bombastic rhythm, wayward baselines, and angular guitar with Jazz’s desperate monotone cutting through the noise. “Something At Bard,” an epic here at 2:09, crushes from the opening note’s wall of guitar and slithery beats. This is the weirdest, longest, and simultaneously the most ESG-est track on the record. The best, though, is “Face Me,” with its ramschackle wreck of a song structure; it’s as if the song is deconstructing itself as the band is writing it. On the surface, this may seem like a jangly, bangly little punk ditty, but as the lyrics weave through the charged sounds, it feels as if something sinister is emerging.
It’s Cheap Meat’s beautiful, playful rage, their insistence on making you, the listener, as uncomfortable, confronted, and accountable as the very subjects, the very individuals, they’re actually singing about. Their candidness might make you uncomfortable, but their assuredness — much of which hinges on Jazz’s superb command on vocal duties — will make you want to celebrate them.