The Drin :: Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom

The Drin, from Cincinnati, sheathes unyielding staccato rhythms in the undulating ooze of dub. Stark drum beats push electro-shocked funk/soul vamps into denatured, machine-like fury, while guitars scream and basses rumble and one Dylan McCartney chants blankly about worms and dooms and poisons. 

The Drin emerged rather suddenly in the summer of 2020 (the band’s Bandcamp page calls the debut Far Out Kicking “the lowly anticipated follow up to nothing”). This opening salvo was a good bit more conventionally rock, with actual sung melodies, but the following year, Engines Sing for the Pale Moon, a cassette on Drunken Sailor set the template of droning bass, heart-palpitating drums and murmured threat. Late 2022’s Down River in the Distance further refined the inchoate, echo-slathered aesthetic, with ramshackle drums and twining melodica; it was a shack about to fall in on itself but full of ghosts. Now comes Today My Friend You Drunk the Venom, the cleanest, clearest, most exhilarating version of the Drin yet. 

It begins in a swirl of monk-ish chants, a spectral fog of atmosphere leads directly and somewhat abruptly into the first banger, “Venom,” all snarling bass and old soul drum vamp with occasional chaotic stabs of guitar. McCartney mutters ominously above a driving clatter, his words evocative but ultimately unreadable. An evil watusi, a dance craze that leads towards death, “Venom” is exciting in a way that most contemporary post-punk isn’t. It jars you out of your rut and makes you like it. 

McCartney seems to like upending classic rock expectations. A cut called “Peaceful, Easy Feeling,” is wholly at odds with its Eagles-nodding title. A drill team’s staccato drunk cadence jitters over woozy maniacal vocals. There’s not a shred of melody in it, just pulse pounding rhythm and vague disquiet. “The Day (Azoic)” borrows one of the most hackneyed, overused line in pop music, “The day the music died,” and turns it into a droning, desolate, funeral dirge. 

The best cut comes last in “Mozart on the Wing,” with a white-noise scree of feedback addled guitars, like Sonic Youth without the lyricism, a bumptious drum beat the surges up out of the nether regions of sound and a half-sung, half-shouted anthemic chorus that must rile the kids up in a live setting. 

McCartney puts a thick coat of echo over everything, so that even the starkest, most rhythmically driven cuts take on a dream-like aura. The dub influence in post-punk waxes and wanes, but seems to be on a roll lately, with both Non Plus Temps’ Desire Choir and now, the Drin, channeling the spirit of Adrian Sherwood. Let’s hope it’s a trend. This is the good stuff. | j kelly

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