(Detonic Recordings, 2014)
OK. This is Detonic Recordings 002, the second (obviously) release from Australian synthpunk/darkwave label formed and run by mnttaB’s Dik. There’s definitely a style Dik’s going for. It’s pretty wild and whacked out, which makes for compelling listening. Two 7-inches in, and Detonic is probably your new go-to label for Germanic post punk.
I listened to Diesel Dudes, a duo from Oakland, California, on April Fool’s Day, and I wasn’t totally sure if I was being put on or not. (Dik sent me the record well before the first – it was divine confluence that I happened to be listening to it on this day.) The first song on the EP is confounding in its hilariousness – “Spot Me While I Lift (Watch Me Take a Hit)” is about going to the gym. Spotting, for you wimps, is what your weightlifting partner does while you hammer out some gnarly reps, making sure you can put the weight back when you’re done instead of getting pinned under it due to fatigue. The song is about that. It’s also about smoking pot in the sauna and getting booted from said gym. I’m not kidding.
These guys are all about muscles and the gym, and I’ve never listened to a band so enamored. I probably should have checked the promo sheet first: “Diesel Dudes … come (uninvited) bearing gifts of Adrenalin, Testosterone, Steroids, and Sweat.” Right. Got it. This plus drum machines and sequencers.
“Muscle Memories” is still about lifting, I think – heck, everything’s about lifting with Diesel Dudes. And I still can’t pin this band, whether or not I should take them at face value. But within lies this conundrum – is the music terrible because it’s post punk made by gym rats about going to the gym? Or is it terrible because the band’s using really obvious entendres in a sort of “Jocko Homo”-esque attempt to flout an über-manliness and cover an unacknowledged lack of self-confidence?
Or is it amazingly awesome because it’s up to you to figure it out?
I found myself chuckling, lost in the middle of the questions and imagining Diesel Dudes opening up for Rammstein, revving the crowd into some sort of hateful swath of indignation. Let confusion and chaos abound. In the end, Hercules Initiative is a fun EP, lasting for all of eight minutes, and raising a flurry of questions you have to ask about yourself as much as you have to ask about the band. Diesel Dudes just want you to connect on their level. As they say in “East Bay Rats” – in fact, it’s pretty much all they say in “East Bay Rats” – “Life isn’t easy for a rat from the East Bay.” Indeed, dudes, indeed.
RIYL: Rammstein, Atari Teenage Riot, Nitzer Ebb