The Los Angeles band, Chotto Ghetto (facebook : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chotto-Ghetto/86601612418) , will soon be releasing their full length record, Sparkles, on Asian Man Records; and although it is their first on label, this isn’t their first trip to the proverbial rodeo.
Chotto Ghetto has been around since 2005, and has four previous releases, which is probably why they were able to work with such talent on the latest record – producer Tim Gedemer and engineer Bryan Carlstrom (Alice in Chains, The Offspring, Anthrax) at Tranzformer Studios, and was mixed by Taylor Voeltz (Mureau, Suffokate). In addition, the record features punk legend Mike Watt (The Minutemen) and New York indie star Laura Stevenson.
As for the record, it reminds me of the first time I read “Naked Lunch” by William Burroughs – it is better to not have a preconceived notion of the record but instead just sit back and enjoy the ride. The band plays “visceral hardcore punk with a Patton-esque experimental metal sensibility” – a simple explanation but the album goes far beyond that. While Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) uses a great variety of singing styles – Chotto Ghetto takes that notion and applies it to the music, resulting in a multifaceted journey full of twists and turns, with plenty of punk vocals and thrash type metal. For example, the tracks “These Kids Crave Discipline” and “Bermuda”.
“These Kids Crave Discipline” is dominated with a thrash metal type rhythm similar to older Anthrax with a weirdly melodic chorus section, which suddenly switches and strips down as Chris (vocals) points an accusing finger at music executives that measure a band by sales instead of the music (the end includes a donkey). By contrast, “Bermuda” features Laura Stevenson singing “I’ll give you everything you are, and take the backlash of your claim, I’m masochistic in that way” to a slower, mellower cadence which sometimes morphs into twisted, nightmare like circus music. At times there the changes are more methodical, such as the slow “accelerando” at beginning of the track “Pet Gold” – taking 2 minutes to build to the forceful, pounding rhythm that carries the rest of the song. “Snake Bumby” ends with an exchange with an overly enthusiastic crowd in Stanton Island, and the album ends with a weird, disjointed sing a long “Sparkles”. Despite the sudden changes in the music, the band is tight and have their individual musical GPS’ on the same course; which is important to prevent the songs from becoming discombobulated noise.
These sudden changes, blind corners, and sudden switches in tempo and rhythm are the one consistent thing on the record, which makes this a truly adventurous outing by the band. In a similar vein of some of the bands Chotto Ghetto states as influences – Faith No More, Mars Volta, and Fishbone – Chotto Ghetto has managed to make a great overall album of eclectic, and sometimes chaotic (yet very interesting) songs.
The Chotto Ghetto release, Sparkles, will be released on September 11 on Asian Man Records. You can order it here on the Asian Man website.