Local Wire

The Plainfield Butchers: Hard To Be Human

Title: Hard To Be Human

Basics: Billed as "the new project featuring members of Big Vinny and the Cattle Thieves, Digital Leather, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and The Half Empties," The Plainfield Butchers have some impressive experience among their four members. Their debut record Hard To Be Human is a tight tour de force of punk and power pop. The album consists of 10 songs that clock in at just over 22 minutes long. What is not to love about that? 

The Butchers definitely get their money's worth out of those 10 songs, crafting some immensely enjoyable and polished punk.

Best Song: Martin Cizmar might favor "Truckstop Urinal," which is plenty a fine song, but I have to go with "Nothing To Prove." Don't get me wrong -- there are a lot of solid songs on this album, and "Nothing To Prove" is really just a personal choice. It features the band's fantastic organ, is under 2:30 long and is actually quite a complex offering. There's not a lot of room to really flesh out a punk song -- to find that wall of sound and really drive home the song's hidden metaphors. "Nothing To Prove" is simple, yet it follows a rather unique song structure. As well, the band has nothing to prove, so why the hell not let everyone know?

Worst Song: There really is no worst song on this album. There's no smarmy, heartfelt love song that throws a wrench in the album's cohesiveness. That's not to say that there's no substance to The Butchers' music. They just realized such a song would seem out of place and, honestly, pretty trite on their album. The longest song on the album -- the titular "Hard To Be Human" -- is five seconds short of three minutes, so there's no freakout/funk jam to make listeners scratch their collective heads. The symmetry, the momentum, the flow of the album -- all of it is on point.

Suggestions: I see that the band's name comes from the nickname of Ed Gein, a notorious murderer and grave-robber who fashioned trophies out of his victims' bones and skin who was best known as the Butcher of Plainfield. When I first got the album and saw that name, The Plainfield Butchers, I must admit I wasn't jumping with joy at the prospect of what was to come. I half-expected some countrified rock music. Now that I have heard the band's music and I know the band's name comes from a severely fucked up individual, I kinda like it. What better way to celebrate, if you will, the life of Ed Gein than to name your band The Plainfield Butchers?

Grade: A

If you're a musician from the Phoenix metro area and would like to have your music reviewed in You Asked For It (our first-come, first-served and often harsh record review column) please send it in an envelope marked "YAFI" to:

Michael Lopez
You Asked For It
c/o Phoenix New Times
1201 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix, AZ 85034

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