Rifle Sport

  • Rifle Sport
  • Voice of Reason (Reflex) 1983 
  • Complex EP (Ruthless) 1985 
  • White (Ruthless) 1987 
  • Live at the Entry, Dead at the Exit (Ruthless) 1989 
  • Primo (Big Money/Ruthless) 1991 
  • Flour
  • Flour (Touch and Go) 1988 
  • Luv 713 (Touch and Go) 1990 
  • Machinery Hill (Touch and Go) 1991 

Rifle Sport are central members of Minneapolis/St. Paul’s “third wave.” After the Suicide Commandos/Suburbs in the mid-’70s, and the Hüskers/Replacements at the beginning of the ’80s, along came bands like Soul Asylum, Man Sized Action and Otto’s Chemical Lounge. These combos bloomed roughly around the time of the worldwide hardcore explosion, but none of them were the least bit doctrinaire. Rifle Sport drew on some of the “post-punk” Angloisms that colored the sound of certain Chicago groups emerging in the same period, and the band has always valued structural tension over compositional speed. The lineup has been stable for almost a decade, and in that time the quartet’s sound has evolved into uniquely propulsive, but somehow low-key, guitar rock. The lyrics are sometimes opaquely personal, and the songs are more circularly mopey than ecstatically expanding.

Describing Rifle Sport as a younger version of Mission of Burma without the underlying Stooges-worship may have a bit of truth to it; the band’s records document its progress and evolution in a laudable and noisy fashion. Fans of edge-heavy shuffling should find them quite winning: newcomers should start with the most recent wax and work backwards.

Bassist Pete (Flour) Conway — also a longtime member of Breaking Circus — has cut several solo discs (the first two are on one CD) that are grungier one-man-shows. The sound is reminiscent of that Big Black/Helios Creed wall-of-shit approach, crossed with Eno’s early pop-whuzz. Both Flour and Luv 713 are pleasant pieces of atmospheric blanket-snuff.

[Byron Coley]

See also: Breaking Circus