Bastro – Diablo Guapo (1989)
The only decent picture of this album cover I could find included the sticker that is on the front, which is a pain in the ass to remove, anyway (at least on my copy), so it must remain! At least it doesn’t say “Featuring:” and then a stream of turn-of-the-decade noise rock hits- you’ll have to reserve that for all of your Lubricated Goat albums.
Bastro is David Grubbs’ immediate post-Squirrel Bait band, and it’s treble-y as shit! Not that there is non-existent bass, but the guitar parts are all headache-inducing Big Black-inspired type stuff, SO BE PREPARED! The subject matter is a little more tasteful though, so at least you won’t get a headache and think about child-rape rings or dogs trained to bite black people the entire time- unless you like that sort of thing, I know that those subjects occupy at least 80% of my bedtime fantasies. And there you have it. This review is just an excuse for me to show up on Google searches for “child rape” and people looking for information about the film White Dog.
Honestly, the first time I listened to this, I wasn’t really impressed, so I’ll warn you- this is not an unlikely scenario upon your first listen. It’s a bit difficult to sort out differences between each song, initially, because, as I said before, the majority of them are buried in treble, which falsely makes them sound a LOT more like Big Black (as I ALSO mentioned before) than they actually do. Really, this album is quite different than that. First of all, there’s a real drummer drummin’ around the whole time! Also, Mr. Grubbs’ vocals come from the school of shouty D.C. post-hardcore, and not “snide, angry Midwest guy.” THIRDLY, after listening to the album more than once, none of the songs really sound like Big Black at all! The production just fools you (or maybe just me) into hearing similarities that aren’t there. These songs have much more variety than it appears upon a passive listen, though almost all of them are fast-paced and noisy.
So, how much variety you say? WELL- some of the song structures are pretty interesting, though not necessarily “crazy and unconventional,” there are parts with sudden tempo shifts or instruments dropping out unexpectedly, mostly in a chorus-less format. The majority of these songs just “keep going,” whether that means changing constantly, or repeating the same thing over and over in a sort of verse-verse-verse type deal. The latter songs may seem more boring on paper, but are quite enjoyable, particularly “Flesh Colored House,” which just repeats a driving riff over and over, eventually to be coupled with a noisy guitar effect that sounds like someone scratching the hologram on an amusement park novelty cup. Further examples of things that set the songs apart include: surprise swing beats!, surprise horns!, and titles that don’t really make much sense, or even seem to have anything to do with the song (“Short-Haired Robot”).
I feel like I’ve just spent a couple paragraphs describing why “Diablo Guapo isn’t really that bad even though everyone thinks it is!” which is odd, because I’m pretty sure that’s not a widely believed opinion by people that have heard it. I guess I’m just worried that you’ll download it and think every song sounds the same, because I sure did, as I have said at least three times already, but I know you aren’t me, so you may have a different opinion. We’re all different! AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES AMERICA GREAT!
In short: this album won’t blow you away, but goddamn does it rock if you’re driving fast. It’s odd how the “in short” part contains an element that wasn’t even brought up in the rest of the review, but that’s cutting-edge writing for you.
To download Handsome Devil, follow this illegal link below: