A Guide to Rational Living: Volume One Tape
The six songs on A Guide to Rational Living's debut tape are unexpectedly melodic and straightforward. The New Flesh was an enormously powerful group; they sounded like a tornado, loud as hell and too fast to grab onto anything. Scott Russell's (best known from Friend Collector) songs are more along the lines of Hüsker Dü or later period Unwound, sing-a-long melodies obscured by fuzzy double tracked vocals and a huge, blown out drum sound. What separates nearly everything Terra Firma has put out from progenitors like Polvo, U.S. Maple, Unwound, or early Don Caballero is how clean and propulsive the production is. Almost everything SST put out sounds like shit, thin guitars, limp bass and a treble heavy sound that castrates good rock songs. Russell's solo work is fleshed out and dense, and the work feels edited and calculated, setting it apart from lots of similar noisy, discordant rock bands who lose the plot in their own dark throb. "Careful" revolves a simple, bludgeoning bass pattern followed by gorgeously warm and ringing guitar harmonics, supporting Russell's double/triple-tracked vocals, wrung in a distortion that wavers between being too intense and impossible to understand to revealing Russell's surprisingly good voice. "Joke" is based around an atonal riff that embodies a very specific bright, cutting guitar sound that so many weird hard rock bands loved. His drumming is explosive and booming, as close to the Albini/Grohl "In Utero" sound as can be done on a shoestring budget. And the playing on the A Guide to Rational Living tape is superb and eschews the lazy/cool posture of sanctifying first takes and adorable mistakes, because why bother putting something down onto your hard drive, to be repeated digitally until the end of time, if it's sloppy? The songs on here are driving and adhere to precise, chopped rhythms that make it an exhilarating listen. Pro-duplicated tape with full colour j-card and digital download coupon.