The band recorded a staggering 20 songs at a studio in Brooklyn over one day, after jettisoning the previous day’s recordings because they didn’t feel right. And they weren’t all first takes: “Typically we would do a song repeatedly, sometimes as much as 10 times, until [producer] Mike Mariconda was satisfied,” says NBT guitarist Jim Weber in the liner notes of the record’s new 20th anniversary reissue.
That the band played multiple takes of many of the 20 songs and still finished in roughly 10 booze-fueled hours speaks to Davidson’s second hallmark of supposedly important music: a middle tempo. !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! fails here again. “The speed of the songs on the record is largely attributed to this,” Weber writes. “We would get so worked up when we were on the fifth take of something that it would just pour out in a burst of nervous energy.”
!!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! is all shuddering energy, from the opening salvos of “Born Toulouse-Lautrec” to the side-one closer “We Give A Rat’s Ass.” Side two continues it with “Runnin’ On Go” and doesn’t really slow down until the cover of Wire’s “Mr. Suit.” The sound qualifies as punk, but owes a significant debt to classic rock ’n’ roll, just sped up, made more intense, and decidedly playful (disqualifying it for the third hallmark of important music). In his book, Davidson notes that people called it “punk ’n’ roll,” “lo-fi punk,” “beer punk,” and more, but he decided on “gunk punk” for his book, though he notes “such denunciations are never the bother for bands of this ilk.”
!!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! is fast, simple, and straightforward, but with personality and charm to spare. The New Bomb Turks would release another six full-lengths before petering out in the early 2000s (though it still performs occasionally), but the band made its boldest, most electrifying statement on its debut. The new reissue offers a chance to discover its greatness all over again.
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