My Life As A Woman

by Couch Slut

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about

As a fan of metal and related styles, you become pretty accustomed to music that ostensibly deals with pain, suffering, even violence but that doesn't sound particularly painful. Cannibal Corpse, for example, a band I love, actually evokes an idea of extreme achievement, of musical drive and athleticism, much more than a sense of horror and trauma. It's funny, given that they've built an entire career out of portraying actual murder, that their music takes no real human toll. It doesn't hurt to listen to it; personally, it makes me want to get up and run around and live.

I'm working through this concept because I'm trying to find a way to describe the sensation of seeing Couch Slut live. I'm far from an expert on what's going on musically day-to-day in NYC at this moment, but I would have no problem labeling them as the best band in the city right now. It's a title I would have formerly bestowed on the mighty Vaz, before they left town. These two bands share very little in common, but the area in which they do overlap is crucial: When I watch either band play, I feel, underneath a sense of exhilaration at the aggression, the command, the extremity, a sense of unease, of alarm, of "How far exactly are they going to take this?"

Couch Slut's music can take the form of frenzied, rhythmically jagged hardcore, or of leaden, thudding noise-rock, with hints of punkish black metal and swaggering riff rock poking through, but their strength as a band is not about style; it's about sensation. Whatever tempo they're playing at, their music gives me a Sisyphean feeling, a sense of grinding, methodical labor — a sense of relentless effort without payoff. A sense of "This is going to hurt us as much as it hurts you." A sense of the assumption of a great burden. A sense of extreme resignation coupled with extreme determination. Of music that asks a lot, that takes a real emotional toll rather than just alluding to that concept.

Couch Slut, in their current lineup, are operating in a very classic "three machines and a wild card' configuration. I'm talking about Led Zeppelin, the Jesus Lizard, etc., where you have an absolutely deadly, precision-engineered guitar-bass-drums band set against the presence of a singer whose job it is — and obviously the Lizard are the more apt comparison here — to essentially unravel, to flail, to purge.

Music that is both ever-advancing and never-progressing, tension that is ever-heightening. And on the flip side, vocals that are ever-exorcising but never getting to the relief at the end of catharsis, pitched at the harrowing intersection of a scream and a sob. I don't pretend to know exactly what Megan Osztrosits is giving voice to via her performance of this music, but the song titles alone — which, on My Life as a Woman, the band's sole release so far, include "Lust Chamber," "Rape Kit" and "Split Urethra Castle" — go a long way toward situating the listener in a place of degradation, despair and sexual trauma. As with the music, there is a quality of alarm inherent in paying witness to her performances. I'm a drummer more than a vocalist, but I've done my share of cathartic screaming, and the sense I have is that you don't tap into anguish as profound as that which Osztrosits summons without revisiting some kind of private hell.

As at last night's outstanding show at Aviv, an intimate, great-sounding venue on the Greenpoint/Bushwick border, Osztrosits tends to spend most of Couch Slut's live sets standing on the floor in front of the stage, getting right down into the mix, breaking the fourth wall in a purposeful way. Each line she howls is another mini mission of despair, sometimes accompanied by a hoisted, spewing beer can. She slams the microphone into her face or legs. She leans into each sentiment with the force of involuntary convulsion.

Meanwhile, the musicians behind her — I know their names, but they seem to favor quasi-anonymity online, so I'll respect that — operate with grim determination. The cliché of "It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it" seems to apply here. A sense of repetitive, churning labor, yes, but coupled with — and this element seems to have increased in prominence in the year or so, and this makes the Lizard and Zeppelin comparisons seem even more apt to me — a quality of true old-school rawk nastiness. If you took AC/DC and re-deployed their supple groove and hip-shaking swing in the service of harrowing pain rather than easy pleasure, you might have something like Couch Slut. Their music moves with a rare kind of looseness, even as it's advancing toward you like a tank — or, maybe, considering the aura of sordid, noxious nastiness that envelops this band and its listener, like projectile vomit in slo-mo.

The takeaway here — for me, at least — is that "metal," or what have you, is no guarantee of anything, in terms of actual affect. What I seem to be looking for these days — and have been looking for ever since I can remember, really — is music that antes up emotionally, Crowbar being an almost comically extreme example. Couch Slut doesn't just co-opt or shallowly depict pain, they convey it. And I mean that in the sense of "to express," but also of "to carry." A great burden (aesthetic, emotional, physical) is being shouldered, by all four members, when this band takes the stage. And if you value so-called extreme music, of whatever flavor, you owe it to yourself to be there next time to pay witness – as it were, to pull your weight.

-- Hank Shteamer, "Pulling their weight: Why Couch Slut is heavier than metal." Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches, August 20th 2016

credits

released October 13, 2014

My Life As A Woman

Megan Osztrosits - Vocals
Theo Nobel - Drums
Kevin Wunderlich - Guitar
Amy Mills - Guitar
Kevin Hall - Bass

Recorded and mixed by Amy Mills
Mastered by Caley Monahon-Ward

Baritone Sax by Davindar Singh, France 2013
Accordion by Leo Svirsky, New York 2013

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Track Name: Little Girl Things
I wanna talk about all those dainty little girl things what's more just sit and we'll talk about until it's sucked gone & watch it come this is war talk it over on the edge of my bed suck it up all we'll talk all day long on my bed and everything freezing outside was all I could think about when he said you need to be fucked sinewy lithe the blood is the life I come when I cry all sinewy lithe everything ripe I come when I cry
Track Name: Lust Chamber
Your alien neon ripe
You expect
Rye, your aching
Barren seed

Tie you another one
God it stinked

Fuck you dry 'till you're dead
Fuck you dry 'till you're dead

I make it a point never to like a slave
I sure don't like you
Here your status is no more than a fuckin' dog
But you're gonna make mistakes
Every slave does
I don't like repeat offenders
It gets me very upset
Track Name: Replacement Addiction
I'm stuck with a little uh oh monster
I'm stuck with a little unshaped monster

Anal fissure
fucking murder
Burning fissure
goodbye ego

You can't tell what to call it
You can't tell what to call it

You don't get your _______.
Track Name: Carpet Farmer
That man you brought here last night
said he was "Looking for James"
That guy that was here last night
scared the living shit out of me

I see him in the kitchen
I see him hiding in a tree
I found them all in the kitchen
I've seen them looking up at me

I think I got one
I think I got one

I've seen him running up the stairs all hours
I know what you're doing in there and
I'll break your legs you try that again, fucker

Evil satan
Burnt offering
Carpet farming
Trash in the sheets
Track Name: Rape Kit
Tangled up inside we're going for a ride stop I don't know my name the shit that's in my mouth and still we'll ride around this sordid fucked up night here. Oh, it's just one more time. Stay with me outside, one more time, one more time. With you, I'm like 2X strong. With you it's like fire. Tangled up inside we're going for a ride I don't know my name this shit that's in my mouth. One more, stay with me outside, one more. "Run, run." I have, body.
Track Name: Split Urethra Castle
I know you have the balls
I've had them in my mouth

Now I've got you nice and hard
Why don't you fuckin' make me?
Suck

(I will drink you)