Tuesday, June 9, 2009
D - Doc Corbin Dart - "Patricia"
Who’s ready for some awkward & painful internal analysis?
No, it’s not me this time; I’m talking about Doc Corbin Dart’s first solo album “Patricia”, you silly head!
Doc Dart was the lead singer of the most politically radical, controversial punk band to ever come out of Lansing, Michigan…hell, ALL of Michigan (whoops, forgot the Meatmen were also out of Lansing – what on earth was in the water of THAT town?): a band whose name even outdid the Dead Kennedys for sheer tastelessness. Out of respect to the more gentle eyes out there in the internet world, I’ll call them the Crucifriends. Though their first record was musically your standard hardcore fastandloudisms, two things clearly stood out. One was the unbearingly angry hostile lyrics, even for punk standards. I wouldn’t even so much call them lyrics so much – more like bile; they covered some of usual punk targets (government, media, religion, police) but added an extra dose of deranged spleen (especially toward cops: when Alternative Tentacles re-released their first 2 albums on a CD, the back cover featured a purported photo of a policeman killed in the line of duty. Though the photo turned out to be from a police training exercise, the police union still sued the record label & initially got a couple million.) The second was the voice of Doc Dart; there’s not been a vocalist in rock, or any music whatsoever, who could match the pure obnoxiousness of Doc’s off-kilter tunelessness. Whereas Darby Crash of the Germs sounded like a very confused 2 year old whose lack of control of his own motor skills (plus heroic doses of alcohol and drugs) prevented him from expressing himself in anything more than a slurred bawl, Doc sounded like a very SPOILED 2 year old who knew that if an intense bombardment of nagging wouldn’t get him what he wants, the rage he unleashes when he starts screaming surely will. Holy Moses, it’s an unpleasant sound. Steve Minshew had this record, and I tried listening to it, believe me, I TRIED, but even with my built in tolerance for horrible noise, this was too much.
Their second album “Wisconsin” is a bit more traditionally listenable, with some actual melodies to accompany such soul stirrers as “Pig in a Blanket” and “When the Top Comes Off”. But Doc’s solo album that followed was a completely different beast. “Patricia” is very REM-like in its 12 string guitars, bouncy melodies, and occasional big drums. (The vocals are still hard to take, but manageable.) Lyrically, it’s far more introspective, and Doc bares more of his soul than probably anyone wants to hear. Rumor has it that the titular Patricia was his psychiatrist, and when the doctor/patient relationship ended, Doc freaked out – the result being this album. It certainly sounds that way: he may very well have recorded his vocals lying on a couch. He’s been broken by a multitude of causes, but returns often to feelings of abandonment: by friends, lovers, family, even someone who died before him. He knows that this issue is majorly screwing with his head, but doesn’t know how to conquer it, and the person he was leaning on to help get through it has cut him off (in the title song, he hints that Patricia stopped the sessions because the love he expressed for her was over the line). Only once does Doc fall into a Crucifriendish rant, as “Little Town, Little People” tears apart weekend protesters (if Doc is hardcore about one thing, it’s his protest): “It might be too much work to fight a war that you can win / so wear your t-shirt to a rally and get yourself on the news again / The cops were beating up a black man on your street the other night / While you were smoking pot and saving the world (or thinking that you might)”. Side two really sinks into his psyche, especially on “Casket with Flowers” and “Patricia”. Again, musically, its good jangly guitars and attractive sounding keyboards, which reflecting off the naked lyrics is a bizarre contrast. Anyway, after Doc and Patricia part, comes the benediction of “Here for You Now”, which on casual listening, sounds like the reassurance of a friendly voice, but really reveals a Travis Bickle-like character who is taking on a high moral stance for what he’s done (or is about to do). The song appears to be aimed at anti-abortion activists: whereas some of the true extremists claim the moral high ground that taking the life of the abortion doctor will save many more innocent lives (hey! This review is as timely as today’s headlines! How prescient!), Doc goes the other direction: killing the activists like some kind of avenging St. Michael (“So proud to manage other species now / Your own is out of control and still you can’t see how / A balance will be struck and shake your faith that day / Mine will be restored when you are blown away”). The chilling last phrase of the song and album is repeated several times: “I’m here for you now”.
Doc is still in the Lansing area causing trouble: a militant animal activist, he changed his name to “26”, and received death threats for his (some would say) unpatriotic activities following 9-11 (click here for a very interesting read on this unique individual.)
VERDICT: not a laugh riot, but appealing musically, lyrically, and psychotically, & will certainly make you rethink any desires to become a psychiatrist if this is what you’ll have to deal with.
VIDEO: this is early hardcore footage: it’s…well, a tad on the intense side (Doc seems upset), naturally not safe for work, and arguably not safe for human consumption (that’s Steve Shelley (future drummer of Sonic Youth) on the drums). YOWZA!