Chemical Cautery – Get Fuckin’ Happy

4/10

Get Fuckin’ Happy by Chemical Cautery  is an album that is sure to leave most people flabbergasted. It’s an exercise in being as obnoxious as humanly possible. I wouldn’t even call it music in the strictest sense. Its creator has gone on record saying that his approach is largely improvisational and the results are not easy to consume. As an art piece in which the primary goal is to provoke, it absolutely succeeds. On paper, I respect it a lot. In execution, it makes me wants to rip my ears out and bleed all over my keyboard. It is by far one the least enjoyable albums I have ever heard, yet it is something that you should listen to at least once. Although fair warning: any more than that, and you will find yourself practicing masochism.

Again, even though I don’t like listening to this album, I think it is a highly successful piece of art. It confronts to get a reaction, and boy did it work on me! I found myself contacting Bucketlist’s fearless leader Liz Imperiale in utter confusion and desperation. “What is this?! How do I even approach this thing?” It was only after further research that we came to the conclusion that it’s SUPPOSED to confuse and make you mad. If you like it, great! If you don’t, then even better! Think of it as a cross between Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music and early Black Flag, both artists who reveled in baffling critics and audiences alike. The vocals are rarely ever in tune,  the production work is in dire need of mixing and the guitars are so monotonous that it’s hard to differentiate any of the tracks to the point that you will get a headache halfway through.

Despite being an excellent experiment, I can’t in good conscience call this “good music” or even recommend this to the average person. The first seven tracks are an utter chore to get through. The guitar work is actually fairly accomplished and reminiscent of Sonic Youth and countless hardcore bands of the 80s, but I just can’t deal with Jake Hancke’s vocal stylings. His delivery comes off as a moody teenager in his basement, yelling the first angry thought that pops into his head. There are no melodies and no second takes needed.  On “Preach” he actually yells, “YOUR GUN IS IN MY BALLS!” – an act that is both baffling and kind of hilarious.  To be fair, he probably doesn’t give a shit whether you like his performances or not. Admirable as that may be, it’s still really not a fun listen.

The last five tracks are actually an improvement. “Unfucked” and “The Needle” show signs of conventional songwriting and vocal work that almost emulates Henry Rollins circa 1984. I didn’t love them or anything, but I at least found myself tapping my foot and not wanting to reach for the Advil bottle. All of this leads me to believe that Chemical Cautery is in control of how out of control Get Fuckin’ Happy sounds. Deep within this record lies a respectable hardcore punk band that is ignoring every instinct of conventional taste. Jake Hancke is clearly aiming for notoriety over success. I may never listen to this album again, but I sure as hell will never forget it.

Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson

About Shawn Thicke 58 Articles
Shawn Thicke is a Montreal born music nerd, whose whole life was turned upside down the second he heard Led Zeppelin blaring from an old turntable at age 12. Besides addictively collecting vinyl records and analyzing every album to death, Shawn further fuels his passion for music by singing, song writing, performing and playing guitar for local rock band Thicke Sugar. You can find this energetic live act on Facebook, and they will be releasing studio recordings very shortly. He also possesses a Bachelors of Education from McGill University and has recently used it to get himself a job as an Elementary School music teacher at JPPS Bialik. Needless to say, his life-long goal of becoming Dewey Finn from School of Rock is now complete.

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