Call it censorship, or a revocation of creative control, but when Universal Records released Be Your Own Pet’s second album, Get Awkward, they did so without three of the songs that were initially slated to be on the tracklist. Understandably, people were upset about this, namely the band. After all, they were the ones whose creative product was being stifled. The reasoning behind having “Black Hole,” “Becky” and “Blow Yr Mind” removed from the album is that the songs are `too violent.’ Funny thing, that, given that violence in music goes back, oh, a century or so, from early country music all the way through the present, in which you still occasionally hear about a glock being pulled in rap music. More importantly, Jemina Pearl Abegg sang on the group’s debut about drowning her boyfriend in a bog.
Obviously, nobody really drowned, and when it comes right down to it, the violence on Get Damaged, the EP of offending material graciously released by XL Recordings, is pretty tame stuff. Sure, there is talk of beatdowns and knife play, but heck, it’s still fun, carefree music, and more like watching an episode of “Itchy and Scratchy” than Saw. And that’s exactly why Get Damaged is such a great little EP—it’s engineered for maximum entertainment, super catchy, full of energy and ready to explode at any moment. “Becky” is a ’50s-style rocker about breaking up with a best friend, and subsequently waiting after class with knives to fuck her up. “Black Hole” rocks out even harder, standing up to the best of any of the group’s songs, but one particular pair of lines seem to be the offenders here: “eating pizza’s really great/ so is destroying everything I hate.” Pizza really is corrupting the youth of America.
The 54 second “Blow Yr Mind” is a hostile attack song as well, visceral and fierce, being the third in a series of songs with escalating speed and intensity. But Abegg’s shrieks in this track are muddled growls, making whatever harsh statements therein kind of hard to understand anyway. No matter, it’s all done in less than 7 minutes, which is short, but those 7 minutes offer some pretty spectacular material. As I learned in Austin this year, Be Your Own Pet is the kind of chaos that’s a lot of fun to get caught up in. There’s a little bit of danger, sure, but a few bruises from rocking out too hard are the biggest risk one faces in listening to these killer tracks.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.