There’s never a shortage of songs dedicated to the happiest of cities, where there is absolutely no corruption, everyone is peaceful and copacetic, and the smiles are as wide as the iconic rivers. Are we talkling about Disneyland? Hollywood? No, silly! We’re talking about the most pure of American cities: Washington, D.C.! And who else to discuss such a snow-white, clean, pure, totally uncorrupted bastion of goodness that is America’s capital than Athens, Georgia’s travellin’ husband-and-wife DIY team, Jucifer? Their seventh full-length, Districts of Dystopia, chronicles in-depth the
corruption and gross misuse of power rich and vibrant history of this young nation.
*checks outside for drones, notices none except for a suspicious-looking sprinkler in the rear garden, sighs and goes back to properly write the review*
What we have here, folks, is nine of America’s ugliest history lessons put to record. “Non Gratus Anus Rodentum” (or not worth a rat’s ass in Latin) is a sludgy, murky ode to the Tunnel Rats, U.S. Army infantry soliders who would enter Viet Cong tunnel systems to kill enemy soldiers, oftentimes with just a bayonet, a .45, and a flashlight. G. Amber Valentine’s rasp and tar-thick guitars blanket with a grimy, murky layer while her husband, Edgar Livengood, drums slowly through the mire, adding blasts when appropriate. There’s no flash, no thrills, just straight-up ugliness that would make Eyehategod stand up and take notice.
There’s not a moment on District of Dystopia where you don’t feel Jucifer coughing up phlegm and vitriol on you, like a bitter war veteran cast aside by the very people he swore to protect. Whether it’s the lurch and slide of the guitars on “Decapitating the Regime,” the potent crawl and hideous vocals on “Narcissist,” or the more “upbeat” (and calling it that is absolutely pushing it) crust-punk of “Red Summer,” the entire album is different shades of pissed off rage from a couple who are sick of seeing their homeland continuing to commit atrocity after atrocity in the name of freedom. Sure, it’s sloppy and loose, but it’s also grossly effective in bathing the listener in a hateful muck that’ll require many showers to properly cleanse themselves afterwards.
The couple’s DIY ethic of touring, writing, and running their label also goes towards their production as well. I was going to joke that this album sounds like it was recorded in someone’s Winnebago until I realized that this was, indeed, recorded in their Winnebago (which doubles as their home and tour bus). Not the most ideal of sounds, but it speaks of the conviction and drive of this couple. One thing that did get me was that, after a while, it can all start to sound the same with repeated listens. Also, Valentine sounds like her voice is about to give out on certain songs (such as “It Can’t Be Helped” or “Justice”).
District of Dystopia is unapologetic and disgusting, but also eye-opening and welcome. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, Jucifer will gladly call you on your bullshit. An ugly album for ugly subject matter.