Rock music’s wildest mutants traditionally have short lifespans, so it’s a minor miracle that Providence, RI’s Arab On Radar survived for eight years. Though the band got going in 1994, their influences mostly date to the ill-defined but influential no-wave scene of late-’70s New York: the likes of the Contortions, DNA, and the early Lydia Lunch outfit Teenage Jesus & The Jerks.
Alongside a small handful of peers like the Flying Luttenbachers and U.S. Maple, Arab On Radar dragged no-wave’s guitar-choking skronk and brainy nihilism into the post-Soviet era, while retaining its penchant for absurdist provocation. (Read AOR frontman Eric Paul’s hilarious account of the band’s unlikely opening slot at a Marilyn Manson gig in 1995 to get a sense of their penchant for causing trouble.) After generating a surprisingly extensive discography, including the classic 2001 LP Yahweh Or The Highway, Arab On Radar called it quits in 2002; an aborted 2010 reunion aside, the group has kept quiet ever since, though three members of the band still work together in fine form as Doomsday Student.
Surprisingly, the corpse of Arab On Radar still has one last fetid belch left in it, in the form of a pair of B-sides from the Yahweh Or The Highway sessions. Skin Graft Records, the Chicago noise rock bellwether that issued Yahweh, is releasing these two tunes as a single. We’re premiering one of those two tracks, “Piggin’ In The Pumpkin Patch,” here today. Driven by a nervous 7-beat drum ostinato and chickenscratch guitars that don’t even pretend like they’re trying to carry a melody, it’s a brief trainwreck of a tune that captures much of Arab On Radar’s paradoxical appeal. It’ll probably sound like a malfunctioning appliance to most, but lucky ears will detect the sardonic but unmistakeable musicality that lies beneath the scabby surface. Listen.
The Yahweh Or The Highway B-sides are out in a variety of packaging formats — many of which also include an expanded version of the album on CD — via Skin Graft Records on 8/19. Preorder here.