Tad - God's Balls LP (Loser Edition)Sub Pop
When the grunge scene was incubating in the Pacific Northwest during the '80s, it often seemed like an outsized response to the increasing polish of alternative rock and the rarely acknowledged influence of primal hard rock and metal. But while Soundgarden played grunge like the arena rockers they would one day become, Mudhoney played grunge for clever laughs, and Nirvana added some pop accents to the formula, Tad were the band that proudly took up all that was ugly about grunge and waved their dirty banner high. Tad's debut album, 1989's God's Balls, wasn't their best work, but it laid down their template brilliantly, and both musically and lyrically, it was a strikingly accomplished statement. Tad Doyle and Gary Thorstensen were a ferocious guitar combination, grafting the slash and burn of punk to the beefy, epic-scale riffage of metal, with a potent undercurrent of noise that suggested the influence of Big Black and Sonic Youth. Drummer Steve Wied pummeled his kit like a brontosaurus, laying down a beat that was up to the scale of the guitars, and Kurt Danielson's thick, bulbous basslines gave the music a sonic floor strong enough to support the rest. Though the lyrics were clearly meant to be tongue in cheek, the degenerate caricatures of "Behemoth," "Tuna Car," and "Cyanide Bath" were grim enough to pass for clippings from some especially irresponsible tabloid. And Doyle delivered his songs with a gusto that made the lie that he was some half-bright lumberjack with a violent streak seem fairly plausible. While cut fast on a low budget, producer Jack Endino gave God's Balls a sound that was suitably overpowering, and at a time and place where dirty and heavy were the coin of the realm, Tad's debut album stood out as the biggest sound in town, and it still levels nearly all the competition.