BUSHPILOTAlready! [Vinyl] (2020)REVIEW

Tucked in the corner of a youth recreation center sweating and huddled up next to other greasy fellows who likewise couldn’t afford a nicer shade of plaid, at least nothing better than beige or brown. You know their brand of hairspray because Hell, there were only two or three they could afford and you’d got them all. Wherever you stick your nose there’s a cheroot musk or a body odor, a little more ripe than usual due to the rain evaporating off their dirty clothes. This isn’t the poor house, but you’ve hit an all too common bout of tough luck: You’re there to see your friend’s post-punk band and Hell, we’re -all- gonna sit down for this one. They’re freaks, man, the vocalist is smoking and rambling on over funk rhythms; I’m not even sure if the guitars’ve been tuned. It’s all too broken to ever feel like it’ll collapse, I makes you want to stare at the wall feeling every bit of shame for the dead, bumbling noise rock flopping like a dead fish in front of you. Chances are you were too much of an ass to ‘get it’ back in the day (1993-1996), the krautrock influenced motions, the ‘slice of mind/slice of life’ D.C. post-hardcore diction, and the funk-ass bop of whatever the bassist was doing. Hell they’re back in style anymore and what with whats happening today being something that should’ve been back then… It’s on you, eh? Leeds, England based no wave, kinda kosmische, and avant post-punkers Bushpilot had it right back in 1993, an amalgam of influences that resembled (then) nascent post-rock and then some. In fact they had it so right they didn’t know what to do with it, recording two albums intended for a three album Cherry Red Records (Dead Kennedys, Felt, Alien Sex Fiend) deal and releasing none of ’em before calling it quits. Their debut ‘Already!’ appears to be the first of two albums cut out of those extended sessions back in 1993-1994 and surprisingly enough, it sounds as if it’d been freshly cut today.

Now to be fair if this band had spanked up in Austin or Washington D.C. during the mid-to-late 80’s a post-punk/noise rock loving record store nerd like me would know ’em as well as Big Boys, Slint or perhaps even Minutemen just for the immediate vibe you’ll get from their sound. At the time the band themselves would’ve suggested their influences were along the lines of Talk Talk, Can, and the inch of funk in some of their pieces came from actual James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic enjoyment not necessarily obscure legends like Big Boys but, you’ll get my drift if you’re a fan of the softer side of ‘Where’s My Towel / Industry Standard’ as I am. A few of the more notable songs from this 41 minute proto-post-rock/post-punk record actually did get official release under a different mix back in 1993 as the long out of print ‘Canine’ 7″ where opener “1993” and “The Big Quaalude Thunder Nothing” were chosen as standouts just as they are chosen to kick off ‘Already!’. Why didn’t these charming krautrock influenced songs pick up traction? You’ll have to consider what folks were looking for back in 1993 or so, they wanted disillusioned alt-rock and jangling pop that landed more squarely within their grunge-era bubble. Basically, if it wasn’t necessarily the time and place for Slint it surely wasn’t for Bushpilot, as was the case with their earlier project the forward-thinking, backwards-looking psychedelic punk via the The Birthday Party-esque Purple Eternal. Too weird back then? Fine then, what they’ve crafted into ‘Already!’ holds up as a solid odd-rocking gem today.

The record really starts to sing as Side A progresses, starting with the brittle finger-picking and wailing electric guitar rants of “The Book of the Outlaw”, memorable for its kosmische motion and airy vocal effects. Affected yet jazzy, twinkling-yet-tense indie rock motions with the thin exasperation of The Fall‘s ‘Grotesque’ in mind, more or less; This song stuck with me initially I suppose for the sake of hearing the suggested krautrock influences a la ‘Tago Mago’ which I’d anticipated. Suggesting a band has Can influences can mean anything from minimal experimental mouth noises to jangling street sweeper guitar rock so, I’d been treading lightly. The funk and psychedelia kicks back in on “Bad Vibrations”, the running order hits a greatest point of lax on the easy bass-driven groove of “Black Sun”, but the biggest point of interest for my taste wheels back to Side A for the (early) Fugazi-esque strum of “Over the Earth I Came”; The lingering dread of its second guitar builds a tension which never fully grinds its way out. Sure they hit the distortion pedal around the 3.5 minute mark and swing a bit but they’ve only slightly twisted the greater rubberized motion of the piece. Side A is surely loaded with the more immediate points of interest but I found I was always willing to let Side B do its thing and balance the experience out. If I was restless, “No Rule” was always enough of a jogging post-punk clanger to pick it all back up.

So the record has a bit of everything, they were going for broke back in ’93/’94 and ‘Already!’ proves the smoking man and his fellow weirdos were onto something which, unfortunately nobody’d gotten to hear ’til now. Who is it for? Folks in tune with the history of noise rock/post-punk adjacent sounds, experimental rock weirdos, and anyone which enthusiasm for all things touched by kosmische musik’s unusual n’ timeless tentacles. It isn’t quite a ‘new’ recording but certainly not one suffering any dated notions or sonic degradation. It doesn’t feel like a stuffy archive, either. The clear 12″ LP feels lovingly made but not lavish or sentimental of the past, no old band photos or scribbled lyric sheet. I’ve found Bushpilot‘s first album valuable as a trip, an oddball freak rock record that doesn’t intend to stand in one place and bang out variations on a theme, instead a vigorous set of expressive songs gives way to a flipside full of atmosphere and groove. It feels natural as a venture from Point A to Point B despite the coordinates always being a bit fuzzy style-wise. A moderately high recommendation to most folks who’d encounter ‘Already!’, though I’d bump the recommend for those who’re interested in proto-post-rock forms, British post-punk activists, and anyone who’d dig through a hundred crates looking for that one rudely unknown trip.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
LABEL(S):God Unknown Records
RELEASE DATE:March 20th, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [All Formats]
Noise Rock,

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