Saturday, July 11, 2009

Psychostick - Sandwich

Half a block down from the twin flat shared by Tenacious D and the Bloodhound Gang lies the derelict frat house that Psychostick calls home. Festooned with jester hats and bad goatees, the members of "the greatest band in the world" took up residence in August of 2000 and embarked upon a campaign of terror against their neighbors. Early morning drag races and all-night keggers resulted in anonymous threats and visits from the cops, at which point the band hunkered down and started to record. Their first attempt at writing music resulted in a miscarriage, but they went ahead and sold it anyway, under the title of We Couldn't Think of a Title. A portion of the afterbirth, nicknamed "Beer", somehow made its way onto the XM station Squizz, where it quickly found an audience of like-minded knuckle-draggers. The self-produced video for "Beer" was subsequently adopted by such bastions of culture as and, emboldening the band to take a sabbatical from the car wash and enter the studio again. The result of this misguided foray was Sandwich, an album so surpassingly idiotic that it fails even to succeed in spite of itself.

Sandwich could have been good, but Psychostick didn't know the rules. In order for novelty music to work, it must satisfy two criteria: It must never exceed a nominal level of self-consciousness, and it must maintain at least a modicum of listenability. Psychostick falls short on both counts. Their primary fault is that they attempt to operate under an umbrella of ironic detachment, despite the fact that their frat boy mentality is clearly all too real. It's a thin line between clever and stupid, to paraphrase David St. Hubbins, and Sandwich falls off the balance beam right from the start. Riddled with subliterate puns so excruciating that even the fourteen-year-old in me is offended, the album is an exhausting parade of thrice-baked Tenacious D skits, odes to food, and other painfully contrived juvenilia.

The question arises: Why does such pedestrian subject matter yield decent material for such purveyors of the highbrow lowbrow as "Weird Al" Yankovic and the Bloodhound Gang, but not for Psychostick? After all, the Bloodhound Gang's target audience is presumably the same as Psychostick's, and the former's disappearance from the scene has left the latter with a commercial hole to fill. Alas, the Bloodhound Gang's tongue-in-cheek co-option of hip-hop and trog metal always carried an effortless charm, whereas Psychostick's brain-dead aping of System of a Down reads as nothing more than a two-second joke spread out over a 75-minute CD. This kind of thing has been done much better in the past, from the debased sexuality of the Meatmen and Fear to the cartoonish violence of Anal Cunt and Macabre; the only thing missing here is intelligence. Psychostick wants you to believe that they're in on the joke, but the joke's actually on them: Bereft of a sturdy foundation against which to ply their lame attempts at humor, they're just one more stupid metal band. F-

Manually lowering your IQ with the aid of blunt instruments

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