Tabs Out | Sexual Jeremy – The Real Sexual Jeremy

Sexual Jeremy – The Real Sexual Jeremy

12.7.22 by Peter Woods

It’s easy to say that there will never be another band like US Maple. The Chicago quartet, in a lot of ways, broke the mold of what noise rock could be, sitting somewhere between the sensibilities of a long running free improv group and a classic rock band. US Maple always sounded like they were on the verge of collapsing, barely held together by a few key moments of coherence that would surprise again and again, even after repeated listens. How someone else could pull off this kind of tightrope act seems nearly impossible.

But that hasn’t stopped the entire Denton, TX scene from trying.

In what seems like a never-ending slew of new collaborations with the best band names in the world (Gay Cum Daddies, Bukkakke Moms, Big Hole, Cherry Garcia and the Bong Bongs, Chris Angel Mind Freak, I Hate Basketball, The Bozo Big Shit Garbage Band, … I can go on), the musicians that comprise Denton’s scene constantly pull from the same source material that made US Maple what they were: no wave, postpunk, experimental music of all strands, and a light sprinkling of the cocky classic rock attitude that all of these genres supposedly mock. And while Denton’s scene stretches into a wide spectrum of sonic territory, groups like Sexual Jeremy are not only showing that musicians can still inhabit the ground that US Maple broke so many years ago but you can expand, iterate on, and reimagine that ground as well.

On “The Real Sexual Jeremy,” the band’s most accomplished release to date (not to mention my favorite album of the year), Sexual Jeremy draws directly from the playbook that made Long Hair in Three Stages so quintessentially US Maple but filters it through a modern lens. Long stretches of meandering guitar noodles and tight drum explosions sit alongside heavy, angular riffs in time signatures that only God can calculate and underneath deeply odd lyrics that are sometimes spat directly into your face and sometimes growled at you like a dog and sometimes recited in a tone that can only be compared to a teenager being forced to recite the declaration of independence in their least favorite class. The vocals never mimic the impression of an old man dying that Al Johnson perfected over five albums, but it sounds just as a weird.

To jump to another set of references, the album sounds like The Conformists (another band that pulls from the US Maple playbook) listened to a lot less Fugazi and a lot more Load Records bands from the early 2000s. Sexual Jeremy doesn’t have quite the same angular sensibility as The Conformists, but it still peaks through while a whole host of other influences get moved to the foreground. The coexistence of the hypnotic and glittery polyrhythms of “Bowls of Fruit,” the frenetic (and nearly Mars Volta-esque) prog sensibilities of “Chloe from the Strange,” the almost thrash anthem that is “Hell and Suck,” and the jagged riffs plus even more jagged vocals formula that defines opener “My First Rodeo” speaks to the diversity and complexity of these tracks. Especially because these stylistic jumps don’t just happen from song to song but from section to section, refusing to ever go in a direction the listener might expect (including, but not limited to, returning to riffs you heard so long ago you thought they were part of another track).

The pinnacle of the album, however, is “Came,” a seven-and-a-half-minute behemoth of a jam that begs you to try air drumming along with it just so it can trip you up and laugh in your face in front of your friends. The song begins with a barely audible yet hypnotically repetitive two-note guitar riff, slowly gaining in volume before the bass and drums announce themselves with a swift kick to the stomach in the form of an angular, polyrhythmic, and barely comprehensible post-punk sort of riff that ends with a full band turn around that sounds like they pulled it straight from the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Free noodling ensues and then the riff kicks back in, but after one repetition the guitars just… sort of… speed up? But everything else is the same? And then they slow down? And then just start doing whatever they want? And then everyone is back together on that Looney Tunes thing. Then everyone is going wild but the turnaround comes back and then more feedback and noodling and then the turn around one last time before a new, quieter guitar riff begins that is, again, in some time signature that demands a TI-86 be used while figuring it out. Over the top of this comes howled and delayed vocals that sound like they were straight up stolen from an ONO record. And then THAT stops and a NEW two note riff kicks in that is so goddamn heavy and then a one-note riff that I’m pretty sure is in 1/1 kicks in as the feedback moves to the background and then the foreground.

Then it all just stops on a dime. And as the cutsie 4/4 riff that opens “The Quick Trip” starts up, all you can do is ask what the hell just happened before forcing yourself to just move on.

Not to belabor the comparison, but mapping this track reveals exactly how Sexual Jeremy can so easily tie into US Maple’s whole vibe without simply recreating their exact sound (even though they do sound like them sometimes). Writing out what happens in the song from moment to moment makes the whole thing sound like an absolute jumbled mess but when you listen to it, it all becomes crystal clear. Because at the core of Sexual Jeremy’s music (and the music of their predecessors), there exists an internal logic that can be felt and experienced but can never be fully understood or known from an outsider’s perspective. Sure, you can follow along, but only the people making the music can really understand (really know) what’s happening. And while that makes for highly cerebral music, the fact that it hits so goddamn hard makes you forget that part of the band in the moment. In turn, the album demands an endless number of repeated listens to pull apart and put back together the brains and the guts that can’t actually ever be separated in a sound like this.

But eventually, if you’re like me, you’ll just give up on trying to “figure it out” and let the album pull you back into it’s weird, encompassing, and enthralling world. Again, and again, and again.