Song debut: Whores – “Baby Bird”

It’s tough to be smart when you’re a kid. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and children between the ages of 8 and 18 are inclined to express such aversions loudly. Thus the phenomenon of kids — especially kids who happen to be popular or athletic — pretending to be dumber than they really are.

Whores remind me of the high school jock who hides his report card from his friends because it has too many As on it. At first glance, the band is all big, dumb noise rock tropes, like a happier Unsane or a more direct Melvins. Four-chord riffs, jokey self-effacement (this EP also has a song called “I Am An Amateur At Everything”), and gravel-pit instrumental tones abound. But considerable brains hide beneath the lunkish exterior. Whores are crafty showmen; they’ve cleverly placed drummer Travis Owen (also of Weedeater) up front at their shows, where his arsenal of stick tricks and camera-ready mugs works best. Moreover, they’re smart songwriters. “Baby Bird” sounds like a wall of dopey blues riffs at first, but the tune relies on a masterful series of tension-and-release setpieces. “My body is a bullet/My life is a gun in my hand,” sings vocalist/guitarist Christian Lembach near its end. Sharply put.

Stream “Baby Bird” below. Clean comes out on October 29th via Brutal Panda; preorder it here.

— Doug Moore