It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to anything on Revelation records. And I’m not sure I’ve ever bought anything on the legendary hardcore label, though I had some friends in high school that owned a Will Haven album or two. Needless to say, when I received a package in the mail from Revelation, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The new Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower full-length? Nah, couldn’t be. They just signed this year. A Gorilla Biscuits reissue? I don’t even think they ever went out of print. Casting all assumptions aside, I discovered this new Revelation release to be The Trouble We’re In, the new album by a band called Call Me Lightning.
Having a name that suggests speed metal, a whimsical album cover that belongs on an Elephant Six disc and a press release that compares them to The Minutemen and Led Zeppelin, I was stumped. I could have formed some more creative opinions about the group, but the only way to surely reach any conclusions was to actually listen to the album. And it’s a good thing I did.
The Trouble We’re In isn’t your typical Revelation release. Rather than taking cues from label forebears like Youth of Today or Burn, Call Me Lightning had more in common with Chicago post-hardcore like Shellac and Jesus Lizard. “Hungry Lions” begins with some eerie guitar riffs and heavy drums, but, easily, the highest point of the song occurs when vocalist Nathan Lilley shouts “Shazam!,” like Jim Nabors interrupting Big Black. “Pizza Party” is more dizzying punk rock, with a chorus that actually bears a (lightning?) striking similarity to the aforementioned Minutemen. And Albini wishes he wrote “Horseflies.”
What separates Call Me Lightning from their predecessors is their knack for writing hooks, a skill that Yow and Albini never cared for much. Call Me Lightning, however, is a pop band disguised in jagged riffs and unsettling low end. And if nothing else, they can boast the silliest song title, “Asses to Ashes,” which is actually one of the best tracks on the album, melding a manic vocal delivery and stunning bass and guitar harmonies.
Looking back, Revelation was never strictly a hardcore label. The Smiths-y Kill Holiday, the experimental Iceburn Collective and emo pioneers like Texas is the Reason and Farside were all inked with Quicksand’s one time home. But Call Me Lightning is one of the few signings that Revelation made that they may have to keep an eye on. There’s no way a band that kicks this much ass isn’t getting more high profile offers.
The Detachment Kit – They Raging, Quiet Army
Jesus Lizard – Goat
The Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
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.