From the start of YRU Still Here?, Marc Ribot proclaims his intent, sneering "I got a right to be unhappy/I got a right to say 'Fuck You!'/I got a right to ignore everything you say, my feelings are political." Titled "Personal Nancy," as in Nancy Spungen, the doomed paramore of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, the song plays as an anthem for the fractured psyche of America in the Trump age. Which is exactly the point of YRU Still Here?, the pugilistic, stylistically expansive third album from Ceramic Dog, guitarist/singer Ribot's punk-infused trio with bassist/singer Shahzad Ismaily and drummer/singer Ches Smith. Grounded by Ribot's mutative, buzzy guitar lines and the band's taut, often humorous lyrics piping with literate rage, YRU Still Here? has the feel of an '80s hardcore punk 7" recorded on a four-track over an intense few hours. While the band's dissonant, MC5-esque brand of punk, improvisational jazz, and avant-garde rock has always evinced a kind of leftist artistic ire, it's never been as overtly politically and socially minded as it is here. On the blistering "Muslim Jewish Resistance," Ribot and his bandmates (egged on by Briggan Krauss' fiery saxophone squelch) present a unified vision, bucking authoritarian oppression and cultural divisiveness with the proclamation "We say never again/Believe it." Of course, Ceramic Dog's intent is never in doubt here. Cuts like the kinetic, rap-inflected "Fuck la Migra," a pro-immigration, anti-ICE anthem that sounds like the Beastie Boys backed by Sonic Youth, make that explicitly clear. Elsewhere, there are equally thrilling forays into Afro-beat ("Pennsylvania 6 6666"), Cramps-style surf rock insanity ("Agnes"), noise funk ("Oral Sidney with a 'U'"), and psychedelic raga ("Orthodoxy"). Despite its title, YRU Still Here? is less about asking questions and more about Ribot, Ismaily, and Smith taking a defiant stand.
© Matt Collar /TiVo