Calling the Honeymoon Killers’ debut disc a bad album is about as informative as calling Catch a Fire a reggae record: it’s just a generic description. This New York four-piece (not to be confused with the Belgian band named after the same 1970 psychotronic cinema classic) is firmly rooted in the aesthetics of the splatter drive-in, where badness is just the starting point. The fake voodoo music, recorded in “four track horror fidelity,” is abrasive and primitive — like the Cramps with less-commercial instincts and an even sicker sense of humor. More a curio than anything anyone would ever want to listen to, Honeymoon Killers From Mars is at least an entertaining curio. Think of it as aural pain in the service of black humor. Or think of it as obnoxious incompetence — you’ll be neither alone nor unjustified. But miss it, and you’ll never get to hear the world’s worst version of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.”
After half of the band split, guitarist Jerry Teel and bassist Lisa recruited drummer Sally for Love American Style, another crunching descent into lighthearted sonic warfare, recorded at CBGB in such a way as to suggest the sound of a bottomless pit. The squeals, screams, beats and roars hung on vari-speed rockabilly that strolls around like a dissipated hog caller don’t always engage, but it’s perfect accompaniment for late-night movie viewing with the TV sound off. And miss the ultimate garage grunge version of “Batman” at your peril.
Let It Breed ends with a version of the Blue Öyster Cult’s “Godzilla” that falls right in with the album’s horror motif. “Day of the Dead” eulogizes that classic cinematic series; “Brain Dead Bird Brain” suggests a future project for some current film student to contemplate. Trimming the musical insanity a tad without giving up any of their intensity, the Killers try a few numbers that are relatively straightforward. Investing more in vocals, the women chime in with Jerry for a neat X/Cramps-like effect; they also exchange bass and drum chores on the brief “Zoo Train.”
The Killers expanded to a quartet with the addition of Pussy Galore/Boss Hogg guitarist Cristina Martinez and became an even noisier proposition, as evidenced on Turn Me On. Songs like “Choppin’ Mall” (basically a reworking of the pre-Who High Numbers’ already derivative “I’m the Face”), “Octopussy,” “Flophausen” and “Fingerlickin’ Spring Chicken” demonstrate abundant junk-cinema wit; the music shows continued development and structural strength.
Within Take It Off!‘s day-glo sleeve (in itself a radical time-frame jolt for these orthodox back-to-the- stone-agers), the Killers dole out six more glistening slabs from their well-stocked abbatoir. Back to being a trio (those members do seem to disappear rather quickly), the group struts its primordial stuff on “I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone” and six tantalizingly trashy minutes of “The Sexorcist.” Talk about your drive-in massacres!