We Cater To Cowards by Oozing Wound

Release date: January 27, 2023
Label: Thrill Jockey

Chicago noise-niks Oozing Wound send another one whistling overhead. Sailing just out of view beyond the tree line and landing with a satisfyingly forceful crunch. This is some yards west of the designated zone. It’s at an angle, hissing and filthy. They’re late, probably stoned, and do not seem to care about either the punctuality or accuracy of their arrival. The backs of their work shirts bear the odd slogan We Cater To Cowards above an even weirder logo of, what, three sinister dancing teeth or something?

The trio’s slacker irreverence, snarky tone and general lack of respect for correct genre procedure has often earned them accusations of not taking things seriously. For a band who don’t care for the genre boxes they don’t fit, it sure comes up a lot, mostly thanks to the kind of weakeners who do. This time those guys need to just tick the box next to ‘noise rock’, put the clipboard down, drink a beer and enjoy. Or take your little mosquito whine someplace else, whatever. Life is short.

Kevin ‘n’ Kyle are still an absolute powerhouse rhythm section, Zak’s vocals sound more raw throated than ever, his guitar distorted, bendy and atonal. The first three tunes are like a particularly wired and vicious cousin of In Utero. Although reports they’ve made a grunge album are not to be taken entirely seriously. A ‘Hypnic Jerk’ is that weird electrical jolt you get as you’re falling asleep and the tune alternates rolling grind with a locked groove lurch in a short and disconcerting blast. It’s also the first to feature the brass which lurks among the foliage of half the album’s tracks. Mostly it blends into the background, sometimes to the point of disappearing. It adds long drones to the dread and dirge of instrumental ‘Crypto Fash’ but is hard to spot midst the raging churn of ‘Chudly’.

‘Old Sludge’ is the one time the sax steps forward for a bit of a skronking solo. There’s a much reduced level of guitar soloing on the album too in favour of a unified blunt force. Longest track ‘Between Cults’ breaks in the middle heading out towards something more cosmic and so allowing for virtually the full album’s quota of guitar widdle in its second half.

Long time movers and shakers in local DIY labels and spaces there’s a lot of Chicago in Oozing Wound and their new album. Not just that it’s recorded at Electrical Audio and released on Thrill Jockey but sonically there are echoes of Touch and Go releases by local acts like The Jesus Lizard and Big Black. The overall tone is a little less jokey although ‘Midlife Crisis Actor’ is a pretty funny title, perhaps to balance the dark intensity of the tune,  Weil barking “I’m not a violent man” in a way that recalls the Albini of old.

So, yeah, We Cater To Cowards sees ‘The world’s fastest noise rock’ band adjust the controls of their spaceship, dialling up the noise rock and pulling back on the thrash pace a couple of notches. Remain calm, it is still loud and angry, it’s still pretty fast and sometimes dumb. It’s great. Part thrash, part grunge, all Ooze.


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