Song of the Day

Cliterati, “Trans is Beautiful,” from Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies (Tankcrimes, 2019)

Don’t expect to find the blinding glitz and corporate sheen of media glitterati before digging into the latest Song of the Day installment.

Cliterati is the patriarchy-baiting and endlessly clever nom de plume of these Portland D-beat thrashers. At the end of August, the Oregon-based crust punk quartet dropped the fiery full length, Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies, via the inimitable Tankcrimes label. It’s fitting they call the Oakland label home as part of an eye-poppingly rad cadre of bands said label, as the Cliterati’s messages are delivered with the subtlety of a steamroller and the intensity of said tank. Like most things worth learning, the lyrical lessons herein are best learned with brute force, with a devastating militaristic bent that unapologetically drives home their righteous barbs without request. 

Photo: Darren Plank

The 15 songs herein clock in at just North of 30 minutes and high points abound, but the violent song du jour is “Trans is Beautiful.” Sitting somewhere in the putrid well where the brackish waters of UK82, crust, thrash, and hardcore meet, the song churns violently. As straight ahead as the hard charge of the discordant riffing and floor tom heavy that opens the song is, they manage to shoehorn unexpected changes of pace. In less than two minutes, they deftly maneuver between a pummeling hXC breakdown and various passages of rampaging crust.

The manic ripping thrash elements that made Voetsek so rad are, as expected due to the band’s lineage, still here in spades. This results in a flare for the unhinged vibes that lay thick all over this monster. As is case for the rest of the LP, a peek at the sheet would be an enriching decision for multiple reasons, as the vocals are a desperately rasped blast of indignation and freedom. Added to the oft-indecipherable rage on display, the lyrics are as gorgeously rendered and tender as they are considered and confrontational. Clearly stated and thoughtful, “Trans is Beautiful” reads as a rousing call for solidarity, equality, and understanding for anyone navigating identity and self.

Truly a carrion call for the marginalized, it’s a warm and welcome respite from the apolitical. 

As much as they sit in the modern era of rampaging punk, Producer Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust “fame” has an unparalleled ear for updating the singular and bruising sound of early D-beat. The influences of English Dogs, Broken Bones, Doom, Bolt Thrower, and Discharge all make cameos. There are moments of rollicking DIY punk a la Törso, albeit fused with modern sonics and top tier Teutonic thrash. The sound is warm and thick yet still manages to be impossibly thick and muscular.

Recorded by Greg Wilkinson (Necrot, Deny the Cross) at Earhammer Studios with masterful on-brand artwork by the Japanese legend Sugi, Cliterati is the complete package. Tankcrimes would be happy to oblige should you want the package itself. 

Having recently wrapped a full US tour that saw found them devouring the lower 48, one that included crushing the Baltimore pizza joint-cum-stage Joe Squared, one can only hope we’ll be gifted more shows ASAP. 

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Pick up a copy of the Cliterati album on vinyl at Tankcrimes, and if you want digital, Bandcamp is the spot.

Tagged: cliterati

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