“What Moves the Heart” by the Santos Wussies – Review


Two samplers titled Dude, Where’s My Flannel? and Corporate Rock Still Sucks are available for free on Bandcamp.com. They were compiled and posted by a user named “Spread the word of good newer grunge bands” and the sixty included groups span the globe and play various brands of heavy metal, hard rock and bubblegum indie rock. A few (Pretty Please, Milk Duct Tape, 24 Broken Amps, Barry and the Beachcombers) are interesting and often fun anomalies; most (Resin, Minus Touch, Inner Temple, Blue City Mutt) work competently in noble traditions, and nothing more; and several (Baby Milk, Fukked Up, Despairplane, Split Rock, Hung Bunny, This Is Confusing, Perfecto Desconocido) range from hilariously overwrought to plain garbage. Out of them all, though, one still holds my attention and rarely ceases to amaze me. That group is the Santos Wussies.

Their first album, What Moves the Heart, is a blast of scuzzy pop-punk topped by phonetically impeccable English nonsense.  This is Kurt Cobain songwriting, the kind that most people only aspire to. They toss off bizarre lines (“We’re doing stupid things/On Space Shower TV/And we’re doin’ it on TV”, “I don’t like drugs/But I do”, “You got to be the stone in my pumpkin” — what the fuck does it even MEAN?) over grungily played major-key melodies that would make the alternative kids in my hometown scream behind their lips and huddle over in a corner in a typical display of joy. There are maybe two iffy songs (“Later Later” and… well, that’s it actually) and no bad ones at all. Fuck me. If I’d ever listened to Nevermind and were in the business of making lazy comparisons I would probably say this has the potential to be the Nevermind of the twenty-teens. Or maybe the Bleach, with all its filth and buzz. (Their second album is even poppier and has a lot of modern-rock compression, which is a bit of a let-down after this vital bouncing glorious debut.)

I hope to God that they haven’t broken up permanently, if only so I can fantasize about bringing them on tour when my band gets huge. (Just you wait…) These two dudes, who go by Nico and Agus Wussy, have revitalized my faith in the freshness of KISS-principled punk rock (the acronym, not the band), in the effectiveness of four chords, a killer tune and a killerer beat. Basically they play punk rock like they fucking invented it — the crunch is theirs, the attitude is theirs, the unadulterated fun of the music is entirely the Wussies’ own creation. I never again thought, after enduring rock radio and “independent” “rock” for eighteen years, that I would rediscover that love I still hold for deceptively brainless pop that beats its head against walls a la The First Four Years or Pink Flag or Generic Flipper, rock which got away with being simple by virtue of its innovation and joy. And yet in the work of two goofy Argentinians, a self-professed “dino-killing boy band”, I feel alive once more and see the world anew. Maybe there’s some hope for the music of the future after all, in places (Eastern Europe, South America, Africa) where rock and roll has not run its course as in the Anglophone world. Or perhaps (this is my favorite theory) the relatively new groups which catch my attention are phenomenal in themselves, regardless of where they come from. In that case anybody with a knack for music and a strong commitment to expression and practice could “bring his personality to bear” on quality music, as Louis Hardin once wrote, ensuring that rock and roll and its hijos mutantes carry music’s essential genes for a long time to come. Thank you, Santos Wussies — you have restored my faith in the possibilities, if not the actualities, of contemporary music.


Author: noopinionshere

What Julian Cope does for German experimental rock, Mike Watt does for Japanese underground bands, and Mark Prindle did for Amphetamine Reptile Records, I'll just do for whatever. (Pretty much all of it is stuff I like -- that's the only criterion.) I will listen to your demos too, so send me a link or a CD-R or a flash drive or something. In the meantime, read my shit. Thanks, A.P.

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