True misanthropes occupy a lonely corner in rock ‘n’ roll, the strangely smart kid in time-out, always sneering and scratching.
Enter Ben Wallers, employing his Scottish jesters Country Teasers in a dense satire, a piss-off that crosses lines of humor and basic good taste. His lyrics turn on silly points, but, when hate-speak creeps in, people often tune out. Wallers ingeniously speaks out of both sides of his mouth, the meaning behind his bilious commentary never quite clear. When this half-cocked fellow with large rectangular specs–looking like a mix between a middle-aged Jarvis Cocker and Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man, asking “Is it safe?”–sings “People Stop Fucking Each Other,” the sardonic laughs are hard to resist.
Wallers has been at this game long enough to know better. In a prolific output stretched over 15 years (maybe older: “The lyrical content gets more and more embarrassing as you go back in time, therefore pre-1991 albums are available to French clients only,” he says) both in the Teasers and solo as The Rebel, records come littered with whiskey-drool country ballads, tuneless Casio tirades and bizarre covers. They’ve turned Dutch Euro-dance cream puffs 2 Unlimited’s “No Limits” into a nihilist anthem and ripped into Ice Cube’s self-explanatory “We Had to Tear This Motherfucker Up.”
Wallers is interested in pulling the script apart for a “typical band,” but he and the Teasers acting up convinces many it’s part put-on. On a good night, they self-destruct on stage.
Wallers remains aloof from the trappings of his own politics and prefers to think of himself artistically, Cubism serving as the appropriate school for his teasing. As the skewed perspective in a painting or sculpture from the period defies a literal reading, Wallers’ music refracts itself, all sides of a face seen at once. He tosses out all the bad stuff and jollies he can muster, a proverbial ape hurling his own waste down below, banana peels in tow.
Shits. And giggles.
Country Teasers play at Kings in Raleigh with Grass Widow on Wednesday, June 7. Feel the vibe at 10 p.m.