Mikaela's Fiend, Big Business
Fri Sept 16, Vera Project, 7:30 pm, $7,
If at all possible, stay the hell away from hospitals. They are horrific places, incubators for disease, and hazardous to one's mental health, even under the best circumstances.
If confronted with the Hospitals—a San Francisco trio consisting of Adam Stonehouse (drums, vocals), Ned Meiners (guitar), and Rob Enbom (guitar)—I have to proffer the same advice: Git yourself gone. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life shouting, "Huh?! Speak up!" every two minutes? I thought not.
Okay, now that only hardasses are left, let's get down to business. For people who need reference points, the Hospitals are the rancid hellspawn of Pussy Galore, the Fall, and Swell Maps. But not as studied and polite as that comparison sounds. The Hospitals descend from a long line of maverick, ne'er-do-well garage rockers. Rather than revere garage-rock conventions, though, these bastards pulverize Nuggets boxed sets into soot and then infest the air with their trebly blasphemies of the genre.
The band's new sophomore album, I've Visited the Island of Jocks and Jazz (Load), was produced by Chris Woodhouse (A-Frames). The excessive treble and reverb in which he bathes these 13 songs (that race by in 24 minutes) are designed to cause maximum disorientation. The Hospitals' penchant for piercing feedback and scabrous white noise makes Jocks and Jazz a powerful brain enema. They play with the sort of brute primitivism that makes "Louie Louie" sound like the apex of baroque prog rock.
A spin of the Hospitals' self-titled 2003 debut album on In the Red proves that these Bay Area hotheads have never really conformed to the region's rep for THC-baked mellowness. Lo-fi with a vengeance, The Hospitals is all linear, trebly hell-raising momentum, as the group fights off feelings of impotent rage with aural tantrums that leave cochleae black, blue, and blown.
This is music for those who care little about self-preservation, for those who think they're indestructible. The Hospitals leave you feeling shell-shocked, your molecules agitated beyond belief. Note to band: My hearing-aid bill is in the mail.