Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Nerve Endings” by Eagulls from the 2014 album Eagulls on Partisan Records.
Maybe it’s appropriate that a year after posting a scathing open letter criticizing essentially every band and their tourmates, Leeds’ Eagulls are at SXSW, where they’re (probably) playing alongside some of the bands that they were calling out, because now they have the chance to show those groups up in person with their breathlessly furious brand of discordant post-punk. The quintet only released their debut full length this month, but they’ve been notorious in blogosphere circles for, among other things, their lawsuit-from-Don Henley-baiting moniker, the aforementioned letter, getting impulsive, drunken tattoos with journalists, and having the police called to their flat for a rotting pig brain in their backyard. Considering their reputation, it would be easy for the band’s music to be lost in the conversation, but maybe unsurprisingly, their music serves as the sonic counterpart to their filth and fury. It’s a grating counterpart to Savages’ elegant brutality: Loose, but never lazy. Noisy, but not devoid of melody or structure. Chaotic, but never directionless. “Nerve Endings” has been serving as the band’s opening number for their recent concerts, likely because it’s an eardrum-bursting hand grenade of an introduction. As double time drums and a pair of distorted and nebulous guitars roar, singer George Mitchell’s breathless shout rises above his bandmates’ tumultuous arsenal. His yell is barely controlled as he describes his state of anxious pandemonium, and by the time his refrain of “can’t find my head” is recognizable, it’s clear that this is a band that’s finding its power not in emotional resonance or technical skill, but one that is striving for – and capturing – sheer dissonant force.
Eagulls are touring throughout 2014 in support of their debut, including a stop in Seattle at the Crocodile on June 4th. Get tickets and more information about that 21+ show here, keep up with the band’s all caps antics on their website and Facebook, and watch the the aforementioned rotting pig brain-featuring video for “Nerve Endings” below. (Heads up: it’s not quite NSFW, but not something you’d show your mother either.)