The bedroom of the young adult human is the scene of manys a diverse activity: sleeping and dreaming, of course, but also such activities as reading, studying, quiet contemplation, perhaps on occasion crying at the pointlessness of life, and – in the case of adolescents – frenzied masturbation on an Olympian scale.
Since the advent of the internet-abetted boom in home recording, the bedroom has become the site of another activity: the one-man (or -woman) musical project, resulting in multitudinous and diverse solo endeavours spanning the genres, emanating from homes up and down the land. While some of these solitary projects will result in a higher profile and even commercial success for their makers, the majority will never leave the bedroom. But some DIY efforts are undoubtedly deserving of a wider audience. One such venture is The Crytearions, a lone enterprise from one Jimmy Monaghan, all the way from sunny Belmullet, County Mayo.
While many such recording schemes seek to hide their humble origins – attempting to ape studio sounds using expensive (ie. pirated) software and plug-ins – Monaghan proudly proclaims The Crytearions to be a “shitty lo-fi bedroom punk recording project” – and all the better it is for it. Brief, noisy, raw and immediate, the superbly-titled I See What It Is And I Am Scared makes a compelling case in favour of these amateur auteurs, sealed hermetically in their private worlds.
Eschewing such established conventions of recorded music as having any production values whatsoever, or even having a bass, the album is adventurous is in its own ragged way. Opener ‘A New College Suburbia’ sets the tone, not only by having an excellent title, but also musically: there’s a gnarly, distorted guitar riff, some dirty drums (high in the mix), and Monaghan’s yelping vocals (low in the mix). It’s vicious, aggressive stuff, and it’s done and dusted in less than 90 seconds. ‘I Can’t Believe What You Are’ is more of the same, a rudimentary, thumping bass drum beat and some frenzied guitar suggesting The White Stripes. Next up is the punk-abilly (that’s ‘punk’ + ‘rockabilly’, genre fans!) of ‘Gross Situation’, which topically references the ongoing abortion debate in this fair isle, ending with the sardonic kiss-off “You can’t kill something that’s never been born, duh!”. In fact, the lyrics across the album are excellent, by turns biting, surreal and dryly witty (you can’t hear them very well, but Monaghan has helpfully provided them on The Crytearions’ bandcamp page).
‘Early Retirement Plan’ is a superb album highlight, Monaghan ironically evaluating his chances of making a living from this bedroom punk game (“Try to write some catchy hooks…I am working as hard as I can/It’s my early retirement plan”) over a brilliantly catchy, jagged guitar riff and a clattering beat. The instrumental title track sees some howling lead guitar placed atop a chugging main riff, while the chaotic punk of ‘Permanent Vacancy’ takes a full 44 seconds to cover the perils of unemployment (“Smoking green can take its toll/I’m livin’ like an unwashed troll”).
‘Masses’ sounds like an even less produced Ramones, with its one-line chant of “Come on, let’s go/Keep it in your masses”, while ‘Be A Good Little Girl And Get Your Daddy A Beer’ (told you those titles were good) is a scabrous, jerky dissection of a mundane life (“When the highlight of your day/Is what the actors say”) . ‘Any Way You Want’ is possibly the sole weak spot: throwaway even by the album’s slash-and-burn standards and uncharacteristically uninspired lyrically. It’s totally redeemed, however, by raucous closing track ‘FGM’ – pushing the boat out at a whole two-and-a-half minutes long, it features an unsettling spoken-word verse and a final, yelled salvo that contains some truly remarkable lyrics that recall In Utero-era Nirvana (“‘Take my love and shit it backwards/Fuck is nicest of all the words/Burn my senses, burn your fences/Cold like dead fish, I can’t have this.’”)
Uncompromising, entirely unpolished and, in places, not entirely pleasant, I See What It Is And I Am Scared is also completely one-note, but that’s kind of the point. So much for the bedroom. The next step for Monaghan should be to unleash The Crytearions on an unsuspecting outside world.