Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments

  • Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
  • Career Interruption Code EP7 (Datapanik) 1992 
  • You Can't Kill Stupid EP (Datapanik) 1993 
  • Bait and Switch (Onion/American) 1995 
  • Straight to Video (Anyway) 1997 

Most of the bands operating under the Luddite doctrine that’s been dubbed “lo-fi” are quiet…sweet-tempered…pussycats even. This Columbus-spawned quartet — the brainchild of former Great Plains frontman Ron House — makes like that same pussycat injected with a goodly dose of the rabies virus, tearing apart the shabby confines of its 4-track studio with glee. The Slave Apartments (to use the shorthand preferred by the band) spent a few years releasing limited-edition singles — including one that never went on sale at all; you had to write House directly with a good reason for him to send you one for free. The edition “sold” out quickly, and from the exhausting rush of Bait and Switch, it’s easy to see why. House’s high-pitched whine gives an oddly vulnerable edge to self-deflating tracks like “My Mysterious Death (Turn It Up)” and a reprise of the prior EP’s “You Can’t Kill Stupid” (which addresses the singer’s early-’90s battle with cancer), while Bob Petric’s splatter-punk guitar riffs action-paint the margins of pieces like the spot-on cover of “Cyclotron” (from the catalogue of Cleveland proto-punks Electric Eels) with unremittingly chaotic abandon. The topper, however, is the revolutionary screed “RnR Hall of Fame,” which tosses verbal firebombs at the very concept of the Cleveland rock hall, advocating that someone “blow it up…before Paul Westerberg gets in.” Bait and switch? Duck and cover is more like it.

[Deborah Sprague]