Tigon / Canyons / Foreign Theatres – Can’t Have Nothin’ Nice split 12″
As a concept, Can’t Have Nothin’ Nice is pretty damn cool. It’s a three-way collaboration between three bands – Missouri’s Canyons and Foreign Theatres, San Francisco’s Tigon – and three labels, The Ghost is Clear, Melotov and Mayfly.
As a record, it’s a bit uneven; there are clear strengths and weaknesses. This might well be down to personal preference, though, since although all three bands are coming from the heavy end of the musical spectrum there are as many points of departure as there are confluence.
The record opens with a couple of tracks from Canyons, ‘I’m Worthy All the Time’ and ‘Simply Ruthless’. They’re overtly hardcore tunes but with a love of rock riffage ala. Clutch; seguing between slow- and mid-pace to allow those grooves time to breathe but retaining a confrontational aggression. They’re solid tunes whilst you’re listening to them but they’re not too memorable; none of the riffs worm into your brain and stick there.
Next we have a couple of tunes from Tigon. ‘Dreadnaught’ and ‘To Be Swallowed by the Infinite’ are significantly more technical affairs, at times feeling messy and at others tautly controlled – which might be uneven playing or it might be a deliberate conceit towards the chaotic. Either way it works. ‘Dreadnaught’s fat, grungy 90s alt-metal riffs and other nice touches multiple staggered vocals (“we were born to die young”) in the outro help keep things varied and interesting over it’s substantial length. ‘To Be Swallowed by the Infinite’ is a less busy song, focusing on slow, bruising metal riffs and vox that are almost spoken at times. At times it slips into an almost screamo style with octave-heavy guitar work; drawing them into a more sludgey structure, though.
Foreign Theatres are up next: stylistically they’re closer to Tigon than Canyons but structually they’re more like the latter thanks to their similarly brief songs. ‘Yinz Playing Piss Feet’ loops a slow riff under throaty vocals; the whole thing sounds like someone squaring up to you. ‘High on PVC’ is a nippier tune, again focusing on a few slightly odd looping riffs but this time with a few more little hooks thrown in.
After these six tunes the record loops back around to the start, presenting another two tracks from each band. This time around Canyons seem more interesting with ‘Have It Lavish’ and ‘On Stilts’ both injecting the earworms that their first couple of tracks failed to. I’m a bit unsure as to why these two tracks didn’t lead the record off as they’re a lot stronger. It might be that Canyons just seem more immediate and urgent after the lengthier offerings of Tigon, but I’ve listened to the record half a dozen times now and felt the same on every occasion. Go figure!
Tigon’s ‘Phantoms & Cities’ and ‘Sugar Skull’ are along similar lines to the prior offerings, which is to say they’re moody and mathy and heavy; ditto Foreign Theatres ‘I’m Beginning to Get the Fear’ and ‘No Words’ (it does have words) although the former is at points so sparse as to slightly come apart.
Overall this is a solid record and I’d recommend it to fans of heavy, dirty hardcore. It’s quite a cool release because the three bands are all coming from different areas of the 90s/00s hardcore tradition, which keeps things varied in a way that splits can often fail to manage. Some of the songs are stronger than others and most won’t stick in your mind for too long, but at least for the duration you’ll find yourself enjoying what it’s got to offer.