Double Play: Dos & All Pigs Must Die

Mike Watt is simply unable to release a bad album.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson


Dos Y Dos

Original Recording Group

Mike Watt is mostly know for his work with Minutemen but, in actuality, his longest running artistic statement is Dos, a two-pronged bass project featuring Watt and former Black Flag bass goddess Kira Roessler. Dos has released records off and on since 1985 and now they’re back with a new studio offering titled Dos y Dos. For those unfamiliar with Dos, or those who hear Kira from Black Flag and Mike Watt from the Minutemen, be warned. This is not some hyperkinetic punk rock explosion, nor is it a bass player’s freak out. Dos y Dos is a mellow record, mostly instrumental, and filled with textures and moods as opposed to songs. I’ve always said Mike Watt was more of a Jazz man than a straight bassist and this album proves that point again.

Watt’s driving ambition has always been to prove how versatile the bass can be. People tend to think of the bass as the back up, or the second instrument, giving the band’s name an even more ironic tinge to it. Watt sees the bass as something incredibly dynamic, something that’s only limited by the imagination of the player. Minutemen showed Watt’s determination to play alongside the guitar, not just behind it, his solo work allowed him to put the bass front and center, while the stuff he did with The Stooges was just straight badass motherfucking bass work. With Dos y Dos, Watt again turns the bass on its head (stock) by slowing it down and letting the subtle power of the four stringed giant shine through.

The music created on this record by Kira and Watt is outstanding. I don’t know if any of Dos y Dos was written ahead of time, but it sounds completely organic, as if two masters of the craft sat down and let the music flow freely. Kira Roessler is a devastating bass player, always has been. The larger personalities in Black Flag overshadowed her contributions but if you listen to any of the records she was on, Kira is righteous. Dos y Dos is a free-jazz record in the vein of Mingus or the slower work of Ron Carter. The dueling basses roll around and through each other, sometimes swinging, sometimes just getting lost in the duality of the music. At times Kira’s voice will appear and bring a melancholy depth to what’s happening. As much as I enjoyed her vocal work, the strength of Dos y Dos really lies with the instrumental material.

There are standard song titles and small gaps between the tunes on the record, but they're really unnecessary. Everything on Dos y Dos is interconnected, each fluid bass jam moves right into the next. Again, like his Hyphenated Man album, Watt is building a massive structure by stitching all the small and natural moments together. Not everybody will get this record, some will even gloss over it and wait for Watt to release another bass throbbing juggernaut. I feel bad for those people because they’re missing the entire point. Dos y Dos is a microcosm of Watt’s entire career. Every song on this album is an important part of the bigger statement. The same is true of every record Mike Watt has ever released; they’re all smaller parts of the bigger statement Watt’s trying to make. That kind of forethought is why Mike Watt has never released a bad album and Dos y Dos is no exception.


All Pigs Must Die on Page 2!

All Pigs Must Die

God Is War

Southern Lord Records

On the complete and total flipside is All Pigs Must Die. I know, with a sweet and tender name like that you’d expect their album God Is War to be full of love songs, nothing but love songs. If there is any love within the musical strike force of All Pigs Must Die, it’s the kind of vile and stench ridden love that would cause Demons to cry. Try to imagine a tornado made up of Wasps and Killer Bees that’s sucked up a thousand television sets all blasting white noise. If your brain can wrap around that idea, then you’ll be able to imagine what All Pigs Must Die are throwing at you. You don’t listen to God Is War so much as you survive it.

There isn’t much subtly to what All Pigs Must Die is doing. The name is confrontational, the album title is confrontational, even the cover art, the head of Jesus impaled on an upside down cross, is confrontational. With all that ammunition it’s no surprise that the music the band makes will be confrontational. All Pigs Must Die have no real use for dynamics or layered song structures. For them it’s more about bashing you over the head with a hybrid of punk and grindcore that would make Dr. Moreau proud. This is musical cage fighting, all blood lust and fire. Mean spirited and ugly music for a world that’s brimming with hate. All Pigs Must Die is an audio steam valve forthe poisons that build up inside us. They bleed out that ugliness so we don’t have to.

God Is War comes from a new breed of extreme music. Bands like Cursed, Trap Them. Black Breath, Burning Love and others whose disdain for modern society and anger towards the world we live in can’t be expressed through simple metal alone. What this album does is create a powder keg of raw emotion and then blow it up. The scar tissue, shrapnel and devastation left behind is what we hear and relate to.

If you’re not angry, if you’ve never been left embittered by the daily shit sandwich that life loves to feed you, then God Is War will confuse you. Extreme music can be a very robotic genre of music filled with technical savvy and little else. All Pigs Must Die is the antithesis of that; it’s reactionary music that you feel instead of just listen to. Much like kids who stared at arena rock and couldn’t relate to it created punk, this is the extreme music made by kids who just can’t relate to the antiseptic world of modern metal. God Is War is a not only a brutal album, it’s yet another musical statement from a genre of music that doesn’t want to write anthems of how awful the world is. It wants to burn this world to the ground.