From the barren streets of middle-America come Shaved Women. Reigning as the supreme harbingers of chaos in Saint Louis, Missouri, this nihilistic quartet has risen to the top through an effective mix of brutal noise rock and self-destructive hardcore punk. Informed by the caustic nature of small city-towns, the band focuses its feedback-drenched dirge into a cross-section of existential anxiety and landlocked depression. With the ability to simultaneously smolder and combust, Shaved Women seamlessly blend the warring guitar riffs of Black Flag, the rabid mania of The Jesus Lizard, and Drunks With Guns’ reckless abandon.
Singer Ben Salyers’ animalistic vocal approach barrels in the red with self-loathing rage over guitarist Chris Eck’s grinding walls of feedback. Referencing the buzz-saw warp of Black Flag’s Greg Ginn, Eck weaves through a maze of discordant riffs while maintaining total control of the band’s uncompromising progression. Anchored by the dialed-in rhythm section of bassist John Birkner and drummer Tom Valli, the band easily transitions from erratic breakneck speeds to a headstomping trench crawl with metronomic vitality. The band’s unmatched tenacity results in a bevy of AmRep-style breakdowns hinged on unforgettable mid-tempo hooks and complete brainwave annihilation.
Lyrically, Salyers lends to the downer nature of the band as he wades through a sea of mediocrity and complacency with songs like “Choices” and “Every Day Life”. On “Circles,” Salyers barks, “It starts again! It starts again!” as he asserts the pain of mundane existence and the depravity of routine life. Too lazy for suicide. Too apathetic to change.
Straying away from the typical “blown-out” sounds of their contemporaries, Shaved Women’s self-titled record offers a balanced focus on the band’s defiant sound and innovative songwriting. Wielding a domineering death rattle, Shaved Women’s volatile brand of corrosive hardcore continues to bridge the gap between acid punks and hardcore weirdos. Fear. Anxiety. Depression. Isolation has never been so real.