By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Offering up a pungent mix of noise rock and punk injected with guitarist Chris Owen’s corrosive six-string squall, Bay Area band Musk has been a furious racket since first coming together in 2011. Inspired by Australian punk bands like the Scientists and feedtime — Owen (ex-Killers Kiss) bonded with singer Rob Fletcher at a San Francisco reunion show by the latter band as both lamented the lack of real hostility in modern garage punk — as well as the roots-focused sounds of the Chrome Cranks and the Cramps, the group was soon forging its uniquely malevolent sound.
The band’s unhinged early demos featuring Fletcher’s demented howling and Owens’ hyper-distorted guitar abuse led to the debut Musk album coming out on Holy Mountain Records in 2014. A solid approximation of what the Jesus Lizard might have sounded like if iconic instrumental great Link Wray took over on guitar, the band’s menacing self-titled effort produced by regular John Dwyer studio collaborator Chris Woodhouse earned a slew of rave reviews, as did their woolly, chaotic live performances at clubs on both coasts.
While it took some time for the band to get together a follow-up, in 2016 the even more caustic sequel entitled Musk 2: The Second Skumming finally surfaced on 12XU records. Introducing elements of downtown NYC jazz skronk reminiscent of John Zorn’s Naked City, the band produced an even more baleful cacophony that balanced against woozy, Neil Young and Crazy Horse-style lament “Weathervane.”
After a period of working in new members Warren Huegel (drums) and Jim Vail (of the band FNU Clones on bass), the band has increased its activity over the past year. Musk played a number of notable gigs including a show with former Lubricated Goat guitarist Stu Spasm’s new all-star outfit the Art Gray Noizz Quintet and a slot at this year’s Burger Boogaloo right before avowed inspiration the Scientists in July that featured a special five-member line-up with Vail switching over to second guitar. Musk also recently issued its first new music in ages with the ferocious “Animal Husbandry” 7-inch single for Total Punk Records.
This Thursday night, the band returns to the Knockout in San Francisco, sharing the stage with equally noisy local electro-punk minimalists the Tunnel (who released a pair of corrosive EPs in the past year that recall the dark foreboding sounds of Killing Joke, Bauhaus and Scratch Acid) and the skronking, saxophone-driven SF experimental punk band Blank Square.
Musk with Blank Square and The Tunnel
Thursday, Aug. 22, 9 p.m. $10