evilneedles.blogspot.com

Album: Blithe
Label: Mental

For fans of: Melvins, Mike Patton, The Pixies, Nirvana, Guttermouth, X. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that this is one of Mike Patton's favorite bands. Instantly enigmatic, there's no way to prepare you for what this disc has to offer. Tom Petty meets the Melvins is barely a description as The Touchers move comfortably and seamlessly between garage rock, dirt rock, and twangy country-bred punk. The corkscrew vocals of singer/guitarist Ben Brisini are arresting and play off the smooth, dynamic instrumentation to create an indie vibe that is unsettling and aggressive while maintaining a high level of listenability.


 

razorkcake.org

Album: Blithe
Label: Mental

Dunno why, but I didn’t really expect to think much of this, so I was a bit surprised at what I got — well above-average ‘90s type alt-rock from a buncha cats that sound like they take their cues from the same puddle of influences that spawned both Nirvana and the Pixies. The songs are catchy, well structured and diverse, and delivered with much less morose moodiness than Mr. Cobain’s crew and less arty snootiness than Mr. Francis and friends. Apparently, the vato responsible for said tuneage is no longer with us, which gives the proceedings an air of unrealized potential ‘cause given the right amount of payola backing ’em, these kids could’ve had quite a career with enough hits to buy a small island for each. –Jimmy Alvarado


 

PunkRockTheory

Album: Blithe
Label: Mental

The Touchers call Montana home and have already released five other albums prior to “Blithe”. Somehow I’d never heard of them before but count on the fine folks over at Mental Records to get this album out there so people can experience one huge nineties flashback. Because that’s exactly what this is with the kind of jangly, out of control indie rock that brings back memories of The Pixies. Ah, sweet memories! Vocalist Bipolar Ben did a great job of chasing the meters into the red one last time before calling it a life (he passed away  in 2007) and leaves an impressive legacy with this last album that will be played quite a few times at PRT headquarters thanks to songs like “History Of Strange Fruit” and “Vampire”.


 

leftofthedialmag.com

Album: Blithe
Label: Mental

Rooted in the depths and death of Ben Spangler, who died in 2007, this music would have found a happy home in old school labels like Dutch East Indies or Sub Pop before they went utterly sub-corporate — imagine the likes of Happy Flowers, or the Pixies made both ruralized and front porch adventurous. For instance, “Martin Luther King” and “Made and Sold” seem to cross the line between utter hillbilly stompin and blistering noise fest within seconds, from weird country fair to fuzzbox amphetamine sleaze. “History of Strange Fruit,” which may or may not extend a hand to the Billy Holiday standard “Strange Fruit,” is a mutant piece of madness, a helter skelter tirade that goes hippy trippy right in the middle, lovely and almost lilting. In the end, perhaps it’s a slyly winking Hall and Oats song, if Hall and Oats were debauched and discordant. “Always Up For Selling” is as wired and wily as the Meat Puppets in their prime, stuffed with razory fast, whoop-ass shake rattle and roll that makes you feel itchy and wrong all over. In turn, “Nott Right in the Head” lets us know the clock is ticking, and that means we better be prepared for meltdown. For slightly relaxed dream parades, try the Frank Black-ish “The Left Hand is Unclean” while “Vampire” comes as close to a left of the dial radio ruckus as possible. It’s actually something mom might tap her feet too. A bit unshaven and rattled, it’s actually a pop song. In the acoustic alleyway sits “Black Wallstreet,” which also harbors some electric psychedelic fusion too. To complete the whole picture, they get knee-deep in Butthole Surfers territory on “There’s a Dollar at the Bottom of the Pool,” plowing drums across our foreheads and tossing landsides of defoliated guitars down our ear lobes. The plodding beat makes a bulldozer seem like Nightrider. Not for the feigning or the fainting, this one.


 

Penny Black Music

Album: Underwater Fascist
Label: Global Seepej

I'm really not sure what to make of this album at all. Just when I've decided The Touchers are dead serious, they drop a line that makes me decide the whole thing is one monster piss-take of the alt-country scene. Then, once I've settled into that attitude, they come back all serious again.

Maybe it's not my fault. According to the press release Ben Spangler, the band's founder, is "an admitted sufferer of bipolar disorder", and while it's a cheap and easy generalisation to make, there's more than a hint of the Jekyll and Hyde about 'The Underwater Fascist'. The sound is a country-blues-rock mish-mash, very reminiscent of some of the weirder tracks from the golden era of the Pixies. Spangler's vocal delivery, flipping from stoned kookiness to screeching belligerence between one line and the next, also evokes the memory of Frank Black. It's not a carbon copy, but the similarities become more striking the more I think about it.

Somewhat at odds with the slightly comedic country style of the music is the rather dark and sinister lyrical content. I can't make it all out, but the booklet in the CD case supplies me with some nuggets ˆ along with a barrage of collage, an array of bizarre and provocative images from Hitler Youth-ettes to one-eyed mutant kittens. The lyrics do the same thing - juxtaposing the weird, the cruel and the quirky to create a continual sense of "what the fuck?" that lasts through multiple listens. Lyrics about love suddenly turn into rants about overdoses and icepicks, or diatribes that rail against affluent yuppie conformity. It's disturbing and fascinating at once, like the site of a nasty road accident.

I'll be honest; the first time I listened through this album, I thought I hated it. Since then I've listened to it five more times, and every listen has found me noticing something new. I'm still not sure that I *like* it, but like is a weak word at the best of times. What I can say for certain is that there's something very compelling about it, a deceptive simplicity that peels away like the layers of an onion to reveal increasing levels of depth. Maybe if I listen to it once more, I'll be able to decide ...


 

Slug Mag

Album: Underwater Fascist
Label: Global Seepej

The Touchers, also known as Bipolar Ben and The Touchers, call Montana home and yes, Ben Spangler (also known as Ben Brisini in some text), is a self-proclaimed sufferer of bipolar disorder. It is my belief that this medical condition may be an aide to his mulit-sided and schizophrenic music. The Underwater Fascist rocks like a garage punk/alt country/rock ‘n’ roll/hardcore buffet of music. Throughout the record Spangler’s vocals go from his regular scratchy-throat to blistering screaming without warning and the distortion-laced music itself is hard to pin down and define as a whole. Trying to classify a band such as The Touchers only demeans what they are all about. Catchy hooks and dirt-throat singing, mixed with blistering screaming, along with insightful lyrics make up the masterpiece that is The Underwater Fascist, –Jeremy C. Wilkins


 

diskant.net

Album: Underwater Fascist
Label: Global Seepej

This is the first I’ve heard of Montana’s Touchers, but on the evidence of this, their sixth long-player, they are in a strange place. The sleeve folds out to reveal a collage including Nazi children, a three-breasted pinup model, several guillotines and many sharks. Perhaps The Underwater Fascist is a concept album then, a meditation on aquatic fascism; but this isn’t obvious from the music here. Not that that’s a problem - the thirteen tracks need no over-arching theme to do their job. They do just fine as they are. And what they are is a dizzying collection of rockabilly rhythms, throat-shredding screeching vocals, upbeat pop melodies and an unhealthy bucketload of weirdness and threatening desperation.

The most obvious musical reference point is Come On Pilgrim-era Pixies: latino skipping timings, clean guitar lines and damaged-sounding vocals that veer from gruff proclamations to screaming outbursts. I have literally no idea what songs such as ‘Aphrodite Has Gone Mad’, ‘The Mattress Song’, ‘February 22nd 1975′ or ‘Brain’ might be about, but then I’ve never been much of a lyrical analyst. What Touchers are good at is creating an atmosphere of something, an ethereal weirdness that’s as unsettling as it is musical and listenable.

Tracks like ‘Michigan’, with its rolling drumbeats and frenetic strummed guitar, butt up against odd acoustic singalongs like ‘There’s The Rub’, which seems to open with the line “I think you are beautiful, but you are for the worms”. There’s certainly a variety of styles and moods on display here, but I guess that despite what I wrote earlier, an over-arching musical theme becomes apparent as the album comes to a close. Touchers sound like many bands at times - Melvins, Pixies, even Butthole Surfers on the closing musique concrete noise of ‘Fire When Ready’ - but they retain a uniquely strange vibe and a confident grasp of whatever they’re about as a band. I’m still trying to work out what that is, but it’s certainly a positive thing.


 

babysue.com

Album: Underwater Fascist
Label: Global Seepej

The guys in Touchers represent the seedy underside of ski resort towns like Bozeman, Montana. While yuppy visitors are slipping down the slopes in their overpriced retard gear, these guys tuck themselves away in the background and play absolutely rip-roaring abrasive rock music (most likely to vent their frustrations about the yuppy visitors who are slipping down the slopes in their overpriced retard gear). The Underwater Fascist works. This self-recorded album succeeds because of the inherent sincerity of the delivery. Instead of trying to sound like the latest hipster band or drown their instruments and vocals in effects, these guys play like hell and just let the machine capture their sincere harsh energy. Fast, loose, and slightly trashy...these tracks are refreshingly effective. Top picks: "Aphrodite Has Gone Mad," "Country Killer," "77," "Fire When Ready." (We absolutely love the ad featuring sea monkeys who have been transformed into underwater fascists.)


 

Las Vegas Weekly

Album: Underwater Fascist
Label: Global Seepej

Quite possibly one of the weirdest bands ever heard, The Touchers play manic and metal-tinged alt-country that's fun, unique and totally addicting. If you're a fan of strange music, this disc is a must.


 

Punk Planet

Album: The Shotgun
Label: Beard of Blood

Catchy and twangy, this band has old-time rock 'n' roll, country and psychobilly in its blood. Short, simple and to-the-point, the songs have shapes of Uncle Tupelo, X and the Rev. Horton Heat. Not so steeped in one of the aforementioned genres, these songs appeal to me. Vocals often sway from scratchy abrasion to warm harmony, but they are neither too harsh nor too bubblegummy. With guitar-drenched in reverb (think Dick Dale), the classic surf guitar sound is all over the songs, but they comliment the songs very well. At 17 tracks, this is too much of a good thing, but this is a good thing regardless. (EG)


 

askewreviews.com

Album: The Shotgun
Label: Beard of Blood

The town of Bozeman is not known as a hotbed for rock’n’roll. But maybe it should be. If The Touchers are in any way indicative of what goes on in the home of Montana State University, then you might just want to plan a little trip.

The Touchers play a skronky kind of garage/punk, with sparkling hot lead guitar work inspired by ‘50s and 60’s legends like Scotty Moore and Dick Dale and lyrics that fuse the observational skills of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie with the biting incisiveness of the early punks. And to top it all off, the songs are catchy as all get-out. How do you beat a line like “shotguns are not used to being useful”?

Their web site describes them as “The Pixies meet Steve Earle outside a Nirvana show.” I think I understand what they’re getting at, but, on this cd at least, I don’t hear much Pixies or Nirvana. There is a bit of Country twang here and there, especially in the vocals, so the Steve Earle part makes some sense. But to my ears, this is way more simple and straightforward than The Pixies ever managed to be, and way more musical than Nirvana. Maybe that’s just because I never really liked either The Pixies of Nirvana, but whatever. The fact is that I like The Touchers’ The Shotgun a whole helluva lot. -Brian Mosher