Don't look now, but a vibrant little music scene appears to be sprouting up across the lake in Plattsburgh. In recent years, the beleaguered city has been mostly known, musically speaking, for the band Lucid and ... well, not much else. And even Lucid will soon be taking an "indefinite hiatus," possibly drawing the curtain on their decade-long career — see the review below of their latest album, Dirt. But thanks to a new cassette label called Rat Pâté Records, things in the Lake City are looking up. In a recent email to Seven Days, RPR's Matthew Hall writes that several area artists are "banding together to step things up and make some more noise in Plattsburgh."
Hall is also a member of the P-burgh punk duo Comrade Nixon, who specialize in making noise. Their debut full-length, Wine and Circuses, is a bracing, 10-song collection of ragged punk snarl that portends good things.
The record is short — only one tune even comes close to a three-minute run time. But it's not sweet. Hall — who in Comrade Nixon goes by the pseudonym Antwon Levee — and Andrew Wilson shred with a manic savagery that should please punk fans on either side of the lake.
Comrade Nixon are most overtly informed by early '80s hardcore punk. Album opener "Constant Scrape" unloads with squirrely guitars and a frantic backbeat that wouldn't sound out of place on a Minor Threat record. Wilson sings with a nearly tuneless, rapid-fire growl that imparts equal measures of agitation and churlish sarcasm.
If their name didn't make it obvious, Comrade Nixon write with a bit of a political edge, even if their politics aren't always explicitly clear. Under the "Band Interests" heading on their Facebook page, CN write: "Not interested." So perhaps their worldview could best be described as acerbic apathy. Blistering cuts such as "Polizei Panzer" and closer "It Had to Be Said" bolster that notion.
Comrade Nixon have little use for nuance in their writing or playing. By and large, Wilson and Levee eschew technical precision in favor of slobbering energy. And, more often than not, it works. "Swine Licker" starts by lazily teasing the familiar opening notes of "The Star Spangled Banner" before exploding into fevered punkabilly. Wilson plays with impressive speed, if not much accuracy. Levee matches his bandmate's battered aplomb by hitting with berserk fury. By song's end, his drum kit sounds on the verge of disintegration.
Wine and Circuses is only the first release from Rat Pâté Records, with several more reportedly on the way. If those forthcoming records are anything like Comrade Nixon's debut, the volume in Plattsbugh is about to be turned way up.