Nag, Human Coward Coyote (Convulse Records, 2023)

Nag’s Human Coward Coyote is fucking weird and, boy howdy, am I here for it.

The Atlanta oddballs have been on an absolute tear of prolificacy since their inception.

Having already dropped a grip of killer 7-inches, and a dazzling duo of long players in 2020’s Dead Deer and the following year’s Observer, Nag's inaugural release for the mighty Convulse Records is unquestionably my favorite.

Though they fell to Earth relatively fully formed, Nag's latest finds the band stretching every strand of their batshit DNA to its logical limit. 

Still replete with their adventurous and antagonistic punk, there’s again a smattering of noise, no wave, anarcho, and proto hardcore on display.

Though sonically dissimilar, they seem as uninterested in fitting in nearly amongst their peers as legends No Trend, Nog Watt, Spike In Vain, and personal favorites The Crucifucks. Nag's disdain for convention is only matched by their wildly infectious song craft. It’s a rare trick. 

In fitting with their punchy and brief moniker, the entire LP plays like one long, persistent urge to let the weird in. There’s a wide and wonderful world of sneering, antagonistic hardcore punk out there to be uncovered and Nag have likely absorbed it all. What makes this latest collection so compelling is that the band feels simultaneously at odds with the mere idea of song structure yet incapable of penning anything short of sticky, parasitic ear worms.

The cold remove of the vocals never feels affected or intentional. Instead, Nag’s, uhhh, bag, feels more the product of a malcontent disdain for genre rules altogether. Much like the legendary Fall front person Mark E. Smith, the emotional core resides in the brilliantly feigned lack of emotion itself. Let’s get into it, ya freaks… 

The album’s early run of “Camouflage” into “Crisis of Faith” is an early highlight. The former, while clocking in just over a minute, pairs wildly inventive guitar abuse to busy and propulsive rhythms. The latter opens with a sinister bass riff that, when standing alone, feels intentionally seasick and unsettling. The band eventually comes in huddled around it, and reprising the same riff elevates the proceedings into what feels like a lost no wave hardcore classic. 

Straightforward stompers like “Q Laz” drop the listeners guard for a moment because “Kismet” and its late album kissing cousin “Permafrost” are glorious and devastating washes of clattering, repetitive noise. Nag is somehow as comfortable and adept in outer space as they are here on Earth dropping tightly wound post-punk, anarcho punk ragers. 

“Space” is both a sonic and lyrical request for respite, though the drunken rhythms don’t dare give the listener the same consideration. Sardonic and weird as fuck, it’s likely to please Lumpy (and the Dumpers) loyalists as it is label mates Candy Apple. 

Photo: Ryan Ropebridge 

Showing they can just as easily drop a memorable ripper, lead single “Repulsion” is a ramshackle but taut two minutes that boasts some of the most inventive guitar runs I’ve heard in some time. “State of Flux” ratchets up the the aggression and again proves that Nag excels on all fronts, solidly placing the LP’s back end as the secret star of the show. 

This should appeal to fans of everyone from Institute, Powerplant, and Taqbir to Die Kruezen’s overlooked wilderness years. Convulse never misses. Neither should you. 

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