Album of the Day: USA/Mexico, “Matamoros”

The members of Austin’s USA/Mexico have impressive backgrounds: King Coffey drums for the legendary Butthole Surfers, guitarist Craig Clouse engineers the indefinable outfit Shit & Shine, and bassist Nate Cross runs the great label Astral Spirits. They’d probably laugh at being a called a supergroup, though, so consider them more of a stupor-group, since their gravity-laden noise rock lumbers and staggers like an elephant on a bender. With punishing rhythms and scorched-earth distortion, USA/Mexico bask in the primitive beauty of dense sludge. They weren’t lying when they gave one song on their 2017 debut album Laredo the name “Dumber Rock Riff.”  

USA/Mexico’s second album, Matamoros, plays out even heavier and woozier than its predecessor. Most of the songs stomp slowly under the spell of Coffey’s bombed-out beats, drenching them in static and slobber. It’s monolithic without being monotone: dirty sounds and gritty textures sliding over each other like sandpaper wiped across a chalkboard. On “Eric Carr T-Shirt,” the plodding pace nearly collapses, while on a cover of Cherubs’ “Shoofly”—boosted by guest Kevin Whitley, Cherubs’ guitarist/volcalist—the band stretches and strains as if pumping iron in a vat of molasses. It’s not all one-speed lurch, though: the hectic “Vaporwave Headache” actually flies by, while 17-minute closer “Anxious Whitey” cycles through a veritable opera of pressurized gunk. Consider the latter USA/Mexico’s version of “Stairway to Heaven,” if that stairway was covered with mud—and led somewhere much more interesting than nirvana.

-Marc Masters

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