Midwestern outfit ft (The Shadow Government) is an exercise in being obnoxious. By choosing a name that begins with two lowercase letters, they’ve made AutoCorrect go haywire on me. By choosing song titles like “Bullshit Shit,” “Dong Is My Autopilot” and “Clitorious P.I.G.,” they incite groans and hysterical fits of laughter simultaneously. And by interspersing squealing digital noise explosions between songs, they make the listener squirm a little more as playback progresses. Yep, ft (The Shadow Government) has a particular knack for being obnoxious buggers.
The true question to ask when listening to ft (The Shadow Government) is whether or not it’s a bad thing to be obnoxious buggers. After all, bands like The Jesus Lizard and McLusky have made noise-induced smart-assery into a form of high art. In the case of this Great Lakes band (the individual members live in four separate cities in country’s midsection), obnoxiousness is something of a gift. They don’t annoy just to annoy; this isn’t G.G. Allin level shock value or an early Siouxsie and the Banshees level audible audience hostage situation. It’s more like a Black Dice and Fugazi mixtape, with a goofball smirk worn from beginning to end.
Built on the basis of a `Shadow Government’ that is now operating the United States after effectively abolishing the Constitution, The Black and White Album isn’t really much of a concept album. The glue that binds this collection together is an overwhelming sense of tension and power. One need very well brace himself for the stomach punch of horns in “The Greatest Generation Doesn’t Have to Apologize For Anything,” as well as having to fend for himself against the cacophonous and deep grooves of “Forked Tongue (Steady Groove)”. Of course, the shrieking frequencies in “Clitorious P.I.G.” will leave ears ringing for some time after the album has ended.
Then come the moments during which ft (The Shadow Government) combines their rock power and noise experimentation, such as the electro beat rocking “Dong Is My Autopilot.” Album closer “Momo Eat the Taxman” returns the album to riffs and furious beats, rocking heavily just when it seems that the static has completely taken over. ft (The Shadow Government) is unorthodox, and they are intense. They are powerful, and yet they are, at times, impenetrable, and lest we forget, terribly obnoxious, if for no other reason than making me type their cumbersome name so many times. Jerks.
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.