The revolutionary ESP-Disk’ label was founded in 1963 on the motto “You never heard such sounds in your life.” Nearly six decades later the storied label is still living up to that ethos with the debut by Attitude!, a politically charged New York City-based trio whose incendiary blitz combines the nihilism of no wave with Riot Grrl’s feminist punk-style screeds and Albert Ayler-esque tenor-saxophone blasts to unforgettable effect.
Made up of vocalist and guitarist Rose Tang (who’s of Mongol and Chinese descent), Japanese saxophonist Ayumi Ishito, and Taiwanese drummer Wen-Ting Wu, the staunchly DIY Attitude! spares nothing and no one over Pause & Effect’s five righteous anthems. From the album’s opening one-two gut punch “Gimme a Mic” and “Who Flung Dung,” it’s clear these are three strong musicians who aren’t anyone’s patsies and not to be messed with. “I may be small/but I think big,” Tang spits out with enough piss and vinegar to melt your face.
While Tang’s world-weary narratives are serious as a heart attack, the punk-jazz Attitude! belt out is a loose, fun, and gnarly rollick. Their deft sensibilities see them effortlessly hopping from off-the-rails skronk (“8 Steps/7 O’Clock”) to moments of restrained and delicate beauty (the 25-minute tour de force “Conversation”). On “Flames with No Names,” Tang sings “My ire/my fire/my fury.” That kind of intensity is the butt-kicking reality check we need right now.