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Pay Toilets

Freedom Rock or Wet & Wild U.S.A.
White Denim

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Jim Lingo once wrote on my notebook, "Justin Hopper is a Shitty Music Journalist." I've still got that notebook, on top of my pile of rock memorabilia -- the pink slip from my first "Brand New Cadillac"; a napkin from the café where I had coffee with Serge Gainsbourg; a test tube with Priscilla's tears from Elvis's funeral; one lonely ounce of Howard Jones' blood. But it's Pay Toilets' front man Jim Lingo's words I cherish most -- so honest, so true.

 

On the back of that same notebook he scrawled, "Freedom Rock -- Wet and Wild U.S.A" and a few other potential titles for a recording the Toilets had just done. I don't remember when this was; I'm a pretty shitty music journalist, and I didn't jot down the date. But finally, after all these weeks -- months? years? -- the debut from Pittsburgh's most explicit purveyors of scum-fuck political riot rock has entered our lives. And, I dare to propose, our hearts.

 

"I'll be singing Stars and Stripes Forever / smelling bullshit, tasting leather / they wipe their cocks across the land / they fuck you in the ass before they brand." That's Lingo, from "Cowboys Call the Shots," and truer words about America have rarely been spoken. No fence-straddling, Dem-pleasing, protest-song strumming from the Pay Toilets. Just raw vocal cords lapping dog-like at the shit-strewn yard of punk rock, and Jeff Schreckengost's treble-crunched guitars clunking along drunkenly to one-arm-tied-behind-my-back, pre-metal drum bashing from John Roman.

 

Though they're better known for flamboyantly self-flagellating live shows, blood-covered venue floors, inflammatory and vitriolic sexual acts, Freedom Rock is Pay Toilets' chance to show that, behind the strap-on dildos and burning hair, there's some pretty serious punk rock going on. Punk in the "pissing off everybody" way, not the "three chords and a Mohawk" way. Schreck and Roman know how to play, but that doesn't stop 'em from making classics-to-be like "That's Exorcism, Pal," which at times resembles a spleen operation during which the patient prematurely awakens from anesthesia. And "Excitable Nurse," one of a few songs on this one-sided LP that could probably be a hit in some alternate punk world. ("How Punk Rock [Is That]" already is one.) And "Let's Get Organized," that both exhorts activist organizing and makes fun of it at the same time, over some killer riffage, dude.

 

Aesthetically brilliant packaging, hyper-cathartic murder-junkie blaaaoooww punk rock noise-fucking and speaking-in-tongues religious BLWEWEIEW pandemonium, plus a little bit of blood on the microphone. Drool, motherfuckers.

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