6131 Records (2016)
Sounds Like: Beach Slang’s hardcore partier little brother
Culture Abuse’s first full-length album, released in April of last year, is such an eclectic mix of grunge, garage, hardcore, power pop, and straight punk that it’s difficult to pinpoint any one band that they sound like. Musically, the band refuses to be in a strictly defined genre, unless you count “90s” as a genre. With this album, they’re telling the listener, “Fuck what everyone else thinks, and just do what makes you happy.” The first track, “Chinatown,” with part of its chorus being “Gotta gotta gotta live the way you wanna,” echoes this sentiment perfectly.
Speaking of perfection: that’s how well this record goes with driving. It would also provide a fantastic soundtrack for house parties and get-togethers (if only my friends would let me DJ for once!). Peach is so fun and poppy that it’s no wonder that one of its tags on Bandcamp is “party music.”
That said, this album reminds me of that Foster the People song “Pumped Up Kicks” that was ridiculously popular several years ago, in how much the music contrasts with the lyrics. As poppy and upbeat as Peach sounds, there’s a lot embedded in the lyrics. And this begins with the first track: while the chorus of “Chinatown” does urge people to live how they want to, there’s a bit of a not-so-hidden agenda: it is explicitly said to “not let them win.” In the case of the song, “them” seems to obviously mean the authorities, and specifically the police, as some of the lines are “A kid got gunned down by SF police / It’s no longer far away it’s right down my street.”
Even my favorite track, “Jealous,” which is especially danceable and catchy, has some rather depressing lyrical matter. Essentially, the singer let his jealousy get the best of him and created tension in his relationship – maybe even ruined it – and now, as the song goes, he’s “embarrassed / embarrassed / so embarrassed.” There isn’t a person in the world who hasn’t had some sort of miscommunication mishap with someone they were dating. Perhaps the song’s relatability contributes to it being so damn catchy.
Every time I listen to this record, I remember that I missed out on Culture Abuse’s Reno show. Thankfully, they’re San Francisco natives, so here’s hoping that I’ll be able to see them in the next year. If you have the chance to see this record played live, don’t miss it. In the meantime, put Peach on at your next kickback and, provided your friends have good taste, it’ll be a hit.