Trash Talk shows are infamous for being batshit, off-the-wall orgies of chaos and unbridled energy. I saw this firsthand at SXSW last year, in which the band’s 20-minute set of blistering hardcore exploded in a spectacle of aggression and crowd surfing. Lead screamer Lee Spielman spent most of the band’s set writhing on the floor in the middle of the audience, or climbing the various load-bearing infrastructure at Emo’s (R.I.P.). And that was pretty tame by Trash Talk standards — check a recent Pitchfork mini-documentary on the band to see a guy with a pretty disgusting flesh wound from being thrashed around in the pit.
The level of unpredictability and anarchy that Trash Talk openly court make them a surprisingly perfect fit to be signed with Odd Future Records, a Columbia-affiliated imprint started by the eponymous Los Angeles hip-hop troublemakers that spent most of 2011 inviting controversy. On a musical level, Trash Talk is only antagonistic in the sense that the Sacramento quartet’s style of hardcore is particularly loud, angry and explosive. Don’t expect any different from 119, the band’s new album and first for Odd Future. Yet within that framework of violent, raw hardcore, Trash Talk has packed in more hooks, more sophisticated songwriting, and a lot more material in general — at 22 minutes long, it’s unusually sprawling.
One-minute rockets of spittle-flecked angst have been Trash Talk’s stock in trade for half a decade or so, and on 119 remain an important element. But they’re just part of the thing, rather than the whole of the thing. Where Spielman screeches his way through the high-speed dustup of leadoff track “Eat the Cycle,” halfway through it transitions into a slow rumble of bass, feedback and mosh-pit stomp. This is a recurrent theme on 119, from the closing doomcore chug of “The Dogman,” featuring bassist Spencer Pollard on vocals, to “Blossom and Burn,” which finds labelmates and skate buds Tyler the Creator and Hodgy Beats lending some snotty raps to an otherwise ominous, almost Celtic Frost-like progression.
A hardcore band doesn’t change its stripes that readily however, and 119 brings plenty of minute-long moshers where it counts — the straightforward power-chord punch of “Exile on Broadway,” the breakneck-paced “My Rules” and groove-heavy firestorm “F.E.B.N.”, to name a few standouts. Yet it’s clear that Trash Talk are aiming their efforts toward stretching their sound into something a bit more malleable and brooding. Given how legendary their live shows have become, however, it’s unlikely for their short, sharp punk rock pipe-bombs to ever be fully phased out. Trash Talk is just diversifying their violence.
Stream: Trash Talk – “Exile on Broadway”
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.