Even before I had listened to Dragged By Horses’ new album Deep In The Woods, I was more than prepared to give them serious kudos for sending an LP copy of the album for review. Maybe I should be thanking High Wheel records for the packaging, or the group’s publicist for putting it in the mail, but seeing the band’s name in giant letters on the 12-inch sleeve puts me in a good mindset before preparing to write about the album. So when I happen to hear the crazy, spastic noise-rock sounds emanating from the stereo speakers, I’m all the more happy to give props to this Humboldt County, Calif. trio.
Dragged By Horses, composed of vocalist/guitarist Pablo Midence, bassist Jody Goldman and drummer Chris Jaster, rocks with an old-school post-hardcore grind. Their closest sonic relative would likely be Shellac, whose ear-splitting, treble-laden skronk finds an enthusiastic and similarly abrasive heir here. Where they differ is in Dragged By Horses’ tendency to let some occasionally gorgeous tones seep into their aggressive assault. Just about everything pummels and pounds, but sometimes, as in leadoff track “Queen of the Nile,” there’s an abstract, jazzy sensibility, similar to the underrated Karate.
Then again, pummeling is more or less what Dragged By Horses came to do, so one should expect to take a sonic beating while Deep In the Woods spins on the turntable. “Mas Por Dinero” chugs and scrapes while Midence howls lyrics in Spanish. “One Way Ticket to Rome” opens with jangly strums and beats that speed up and slow down in a fashion that’s disorienting to say the least, though ultimately, the song takes shape for more of a conventional rock raveup. A personal favorite is “The Need To Fight,” which begins with an ominous bass grumble, yet eases into a bluesy progression before exploding into a heavy rock `n’ roll punch.
There is ample reason to commend Dragged By Horses, as their music bursts with intensity and brawn, yet does so without piling layers upon the group’s simple, yet effective approach. That they were kind enough to let me experience this brutality on vinyl is just icing on the cake.
Shellac – At Action Park
Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice
Shooting At Unarmed Men – Yes! Tinnitus!
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.