Arresting development
Cop Shoot Cop's "Last Legs," off their recently released Release, is probably the best nonhit single of the year. It packs the same wallop as the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," both songs linked by their similarity to TV cop-show themes of the late '60s and early '70s, but goes the Beasties one better. Beginning with driving piano and horns, it devolves into a powerful piece of music, guitars and horns and growled images ("Santa is bleeding / Some punk shot him in the eye") piled onto the throttling package. And yet the song, as loud as it becomes, remains bizarrely funky and catchy; it's Henry Mancini's "Theme from Peter Gunn" redone as industrial-rock.

But that's just one little piece of CSC: Release--by far the band's best, most coherent work in its six-year existence--ranges from the gorgeously uncomfortable "Lullaby" to the increasingly psychotic rantings of "One of These Days" (as in, "One of these days, I'll blow my brains out on TV") to the dissonant funk of "It Only Hurts When I Breathe." This is a band that fits in nowhere because it encompasses everything.

Cop Shoot Cop is, in so many ways, similar to Barkmarket (due, no doubt, to the fact Barkmarket frontman Dave Sardy produced Cop Shoot Cop): both share a fascination with the noise of rock and roll, the way the instruments can be (de)tuned and combined till they sound like the fragments of wires and metal and wood they really are. Barkmarket and Cop Shoot Cop take apart the music like children who bust open a watch to see what makes it tick, fascinated more by the functions of each tiny piece than by what happens when they work together. It's as Cop Shoot Cop's Tod A. sings in "Swimming in Circles": "A machine I could not understand made a terrible sound, a terrible sound."

And both bands peddle dark, perverse images filled with bodily functions and biological descriptions. But where Dave Sardy writes angry, freeform antipoetry, Tod A.'s lyrics are more concrete and definite. Tod A. is the Andrew Vachss of underground rock, telling stories of pathetic losers and maniac outsiders who believe they are the sane ones, using up their "lucky days two at a time" before they finally act upon their impulses to "strangle 'em all."

Cop Shoot Cop performs November 7 at Trees, opening for Killing Joke. Stabbing Westward also performs.

--Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky