“Being in San Francisco right now is like living on borrowed time,” Justin Wasterlain of Sad Bastard Book Club says. “For people like us, the rising rents, evictions, mindless tech spending, and boutiquification of neighborhoods spell one thing: displacement. It’s like staring down a tidal wave. You can run, but it’s going to catch up and wash you away.”
This sense of impermanence, this profound acceptance of the inevitable end of all things, permeates the group’s new EP, The Crow Nose Quartet’s “Carrion, My Wayward Son”. From the haunting opening harmonies that sound like a Gregorian chant to bursts of violent double-bass attacks and the mournful melodies, the music screams doom, despair, destruction…Think Modest Mouse swapping genes with Pentagram and you can begin to get a sense of their sonic assault. It’s a prolonged funeral with everything from modern civilization to personal dreams stuffed into the casket.
Nothing that SBBC does on this EP is simple and straightforward, from the verbose titles to the lengthy and complex song structures, but I think that’s part of their appeal. It’s like a Victorian novel–dense and complicated but ultimately rewarding for those who stick it out till the end.
“You can burn down the world until it’s buried in soot,” they lament on “The Ruins of Machu Picchu Were an Ancient Prototype for the Future of Detroit” (told you they’re verbose). “It will remain, it’ll still be here / It’s biding its time until its head is reared.” That’s about as optimistic as the band gets.
Their desperation is not unfounded; rather, they are simply acknowledging the grim realities of the world they inhabit. Rents are rising as precipitously as the tides, the job market is drying up like drought-stricken California, and, sometimes, things don’t always turn out alright. Some bands allow you to escape from reality, others shine a stark light on its festering boils and open wounds. Sad Bastard Book Club certainly falls into the latter category.