There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The men of McLusky make a dismal first impression: You can imagine them as a band of unlovable losers from an unfashionable suburb, playing the cleanup spot after a band that’s very popular and they think is crap, tearing the roof off the place while no one watches. So you’ll undoubtedly snort when singer-guitarist Andy Falkous asserts that he’s “tired from fucking too much” on McLusky Do Dallas’ magnificently titled opener, “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues.” There’s no way the snarling narrator of songs like that one and “The World Loves Us and Is Our Bitch” has seen any action since the kind of quiet-then-loud music McLusky plays—the dreaded Pixies/Nirvana/Fugazi hybrid—was last popular. But even unlovable losers have a way of wearing you down, especially when they combine self-hatred with arrogance so effectively and manage their influences so well. “To Hell With Good Intentions” is a good case in point: Over a one-note bass-and-drums stomp, Falkous shouts, “My love is bigger than your love/We take more drugs than a touring funk band,” also noting that “We’re all going straight to hell.” That last line, of course, comes right when the track falls apart into one of the best guitar-noise freakouts this side of Black Francis. If it didn’t have real tunes, McLusky could pass for any American band signed to a major in 1996: Steve Albini’s production verges on self-parody, bringing out every shiver and scrape in Falkous’ voice and making Jon Chapple’s bass sound like a slowing-down police siren. Mat Harding’s drums, meanwhile, could be cardboard boxes for all their resonance. But Falkous’ lyrics save the day. Besides being a spazzy singer with a guitar that sounds about as pleasant as a rat’s ass, he’s marvelously angry, taking on untalented, successful bands in “Collagen Rock” and his own group’s “obvious ploy” of swearing too much in—what else?—”Fuck This Band.” It’ll probably get him nowhere in the music biz, of course, but anyone who can manage a put-down like “All of your friends are cunts/Your mother is a ballpoint-pen thief” deserves a second chance at making a first impression. —Andrew Beaujon