Back To The Cruel World

by Strange Attractor

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about

Third LP from Sudbury, Ontario's Strange Attractor, first domestic release (Mammoth Cave/FDH/Resurrection)

Strange Attractor have a long history in one of Canada's most alien landscapes - Sudbury, Ontario, so it is fitting that the aliens in Strange Attractor have made one of the most surprising, compelling and honest LPs of 2013 that no one will hear.
Highlights include the "Total Shit" trilogy on the b-side. "Feel Like Total Shit" / "This is Total Shit" / "I'm Total Shit" - three songs that give you a 360 degree views from the dregs of modern life: making bad choices, feeling powerless against the will of people who make bad choices, and just generally having everything stacked against you and turning those bad vibes inwards. In the Strange Attractor land, when we point fingers we have to remember that we are simultaneously pointing at ourselves.
"Back to the Cruel World" will fail to get the attention it rightfully deserves. It will not get the head space it needs, the listening time required to unlock the riches contained within. Sure, there will be a few true believers who will wave the flag of Strange Attractor, who will herald this LP as a cornerstone of Canadian music in 2013, but they will be met with complete blank stares and people turning back to topics they are versed in whenever they try to spread the word.
Why? Strange Attractor are from a small town in Northern Ontario. Strange Attractor don't tour much, and when they do, they tour in Europe where they are already massive punk rock
superstars. Strange Attractor don't have a street team, management, or a fancy P.R. person who can 'guarantee a Best New Music.' Strange Attractor don't have a social media strategy outside "making cool records" and "making cool videos." Strange Attractor are not hot 20-year old dudes. There are no drops.
But make no mistake, "Back to the Cruel World" rules and is perfectly happy standing on its own, outsider status intact. When you find other people with Strange Attractor records on their shelves, give them the secret Punk Handshake™ and congratulate them on their good taste.

REVIEWS

There's plenty of punk rock immediacy on Strange Attractor's Back to the Cruel World, but a little patience goes a long way to let this album's strange, sometimes chaotic universe unfurl. Not that this is Quadrophenia or anything—there are three songs on the B-side called the "Total Shit" Trilogy and most of these tracks offer under two minutes of punk fury. But the Sudbury, Ontario band offer something more than meets the eye: "Gimme Something Else" has a narrative about addiction, while "In Your Eyes" features an impressively restrained bridge. There's an array of percussion on "I'm Trying to Wake You Up" that adds nuance to their otherwise fast, booming, kit-centric approach. While the singer's voice has a quality that could accurately be described as "rat-like", this ain't just mindless speed punk. PITCHFORK

From only the finest of decrepit driveways and dingy, rock-filled basements of Sudbury come the latest wonder from Strange Attractor. This garage punk trip hits you in the best of strange ways, like somebody fiddled with the knobs on the way out of the time machine, freaking out as the jams swirl in a sweaty haze of indignant distortion. Throw the Stooges out into the woods for a while and this is what you’ll get. That, or it’ll just make you want to get naked and climb the rafters. Loud, capricious, and making bad decisions. Mammoth Cave said it’s too bad nobody will listen to this record. Prove them wrong.
(BL) WEIRD CANADA

STRANGE ATTRACTOR: Back To The Cruel World: LP
Am I fucking nuts or does this band have something to do with the criminally underrated band the Statues??? I have no idea, but how many punk rock aliens live in Sudbury Ontario??? I’ve always said the best music comes from places that are hostile and inaccessible; no peers to impress, no chicks to pick up on, allowing musical freaks to be free to go wild uninhibited. Case in point this band… or person, or group of extra terrestrials, this is mind blowing freak punk. Taking the best aspects of hyper obscure Killed By Death punk from Canada like the Red Squares, Proles, Hot Nasties and other no-marks who have had record tweakers freaking out for decades. This slab isn’t just some throwback; those names were just starting point. If you are new to the game, think Ty Segall or some hip shit mixed with the Angry Samoans or some other loose ne’rdo well punk band full of fuck ups. I’d love to be wide eyed and 16 again thinking every cookie cutter piece of shit was the second coming, unfortunately a lot of new shit bores me to tears. This record blew my ears clean off my bald head. You need a blueprint or a fucking roadmap how to make dense, strange, interesting, elusive punk? Look no further. Top ten shit. Bet it’s sold out.-Tim Brooks
(FDH) RAZORCAKE


Amidst the unending buzz of modernity, more and more people fall through the cracks and become alienated from the world around them. Sudbury's Jeff Houle makes music for them as Strange Attractor.

Strange Attractor is already blowing up in Europe for good reason. Houle's storm of angular guitar—featured on "I'm Total Shit" and "Real Dark Place"—and bug-eyed sing-screaming combine to make powerful garage-punk that never crosses the two-minute mark.

Strange Attractor's Back to the Cruel World is fresh air in the stolid world of Canadian rock 'n' roll. Canadians are lucky to finally be able to get Houle's music here—Strange Attractor's past two records have gone unreleased in this country, and only thanks to Mammoth Cave Records are we lucky enough to finally get a taste of Sudbury's finest. (VUE Weekly)

Strange Attractor
Back to the Cruel World
(Mammoth Cave / FDH / Resurrection)

Well, this was unexpected. Strange Attractor were formed from the ashes of one of Canada’s most beloved power pop acts—Sudbury, ON’s Statues—and, after releasing a handful of singles and the Mutant Love EP, have dropped one of the most compelling releases of 2013 in Back to the Cruel World. While the band has always toyed with genre (notably, ‘60s garage, ‘80s American punk, power pop, and art rock), Strange Attractor has never felt this polarized, nor this cohesive. Writ large, Cruel World makes negativity, alienation, hatred, and paranoia sound deceptively sweet—and it’s almost freeing to follow the band down the wormhole of negative emotions and mental illness. Sometimes, they feel like bad trips (“S.C.S.”), other times, they’re pathetic waltzes (“Back to the Cruel World”), and they’re almost always brimming with self-hatred (as on the trifecta of “Hot Dog Water,” “This is Total Shit,” and “I’m Total Shit”). It’s not self-deprecation. It’s not self-effacing. It’s self-hatred—and it sounds incredible. (MT) AUX



Their record label (Mammoth Cave Recording Co.) says it’s an album no one will hear, but Sudbury, ON’s Strange Attractor are most definitely a band you need to hear, and hear now. Three albums in and they’re already huge in Europe, but Back to the Cruel World is their first domestic release.

Volatile, unpredictable, and reeking of rot and revolt, Back to the Cruel World is the 2013 album that you didn’t know was missing from your collection, but once it’s in, isn’t going to cede its spot for all the Swedish meatballs in Stockholm.

The b-side features the “Total Shit” trilogy–”Feel Like Total Shit”, “This is Total Shit”, and “I’m Total Shit”–an all-encompassing negative worldview that looks inward, too: “In the Strange Attractor land, when we point fingers we have to remember that we are simultaneously pointing at ourselves.”
Quick Before It Melts



I’ve a peculiar affinity for songs, and especially albums, that open with a cathartic scream.

When a singer lets loose with an up-front shriek—as Strange Attractor’s Jeff Houle does in the first five seconds of Back To The Cruel World—he’s handing listeners a reason to press STOP, should they be hunting for one, and informing those who’ll be sticking around: “Fair warning—this ain’t gonna be pretty.” Label Mammoth Cave echoes: “Strange Attractor have made one of the most surprising, compelling and honest LPs of 2013 that no one will hear.”

Cruel World is a basement recording in all the desirable ways—you’re in the dungeon with them, catching the reverberations of the strings and the wall-to-wall echoes. It comes with teenage angst and alienation (perhaps even literal aliens) aplenty: “I just wanna feel… anything!” Sample song titles: “Feel Like Total Shit,” “This is Total Shit,” “I’m Total Shit.”

Devilishly gruesome noise.
THE TELESCOPE




FDH, Resurrection and Mammoth Cave Records have all joined forces to bring us one of the most absurd punk records of 2013. Strange Attractor is the rock alias of Jeff Houle, an artist based in Sudbury, Ontario, who previously did time in Statues and the Havocs. Back to the Cruel World is his first record to be properly released in the US, and it’s a snarling batch of decrepit speed-punk that’s as angry and disgusted as anything ever committed to tape. It’s Houle’s third album with this basement recording project, and it continues the string of mutant punk filth the first two Strange Attractor records pioneered.

None of these songs ever reach the two minute mark (the record’s 14 songs clock in at a total of 20 minutes). They’re crammed with twisted guitars and howling effects — a deliciously evil sound with a bare-bones punk structure. Even with their minimalist approach, these songs hit like a brick medicine ball. They’re brimming with grit and hate, and Houle’s heinous, wide-eyed scowl will leave you sniveling in the corner, feeling belittled and worthless.

The record opens with a ragged-throated shriek, followed by a wave of wicked, surf-inflected guitars. It’s a hideous introduction, one that will end up scaring more people away then welcoming them. As the momentum builds, the guitars becomes increasingly strained, burying us bit by bit in a storm of noisy metallic shrapnel.

“Gimme Something Else” is a minute-long burner that lays out the highs and lows of addiction. It’s driven by stomping guitars, Houle freaking out about blowing lines. He comes down hard, furiously demanding a better fix as the track burns out and dies. It’s a harrowing look into the weird world of Strange Attractor.
Styrofoam Drone for eMusic.com


Fair warning: be careful when listening to Back to the Cruel World in public, as the inevitable head banging is sure to attract attention.
It’s befitting that Strange Attractor’s lead vocalist and frontman Jeff Houle opens the first track with an exasperated scream, setting the tone appropriately for the remainder of the album. Back to the Cruel World is the third full-length LP from the Sudbury-based group, with none of the album’s 14 songs clocking in past the two-minute mark. From start to finish, Strange Attractor sets you up for a relentless joyride, filled with grimy guitar licks, rage-riddled vocals, and enough snare drum rolls to make your head spin. It’s noise rock at its most unpolished and gruesome (and, therefore, at its finest).


The simultaneously menacing and restless sounds of “Escape from DMT” and “Real Dark Place” force you to yell along to their often unintelligible lyrics, while “In Your Eyes” perfectly strips away any notion of fancy guitar work in favour of chord progressions so simple your grandma could learn them—if she wasn’t already preoccupied with telling you to turn that damn racket down.

It would be an injustice not to mention the affectionately nicknamed “Total Shit Trilogy,” composed of “Feel Like Total Shit,” “This is Total Shit,” and “I’m Total Shit.” This trifecta of vulgarity comes together to encapsulate all the feelings of everyone’s rebellious teen years, rich with references to hangovers and fist fights that will bring you back to the night when you totaled your parents’ minivan like it was yesterday.

Back to the Cruel World will likely be written off as screechy punk trash by many, but those willing to give the compilation the chance it deserves may find something great (and more than likely sweaty) in Strange Attractor’s explosive creation.
Discorder Magazine


Pixbear:
Dans un mois, le groupe garage punk canadien Strange Attractor sortira son nouvel opus Back to the Cruel World, un dangereux brûlot punk à l’ancienne. L’intégralité de ce disque est diffusée en streaming dès maintenant. Amateurs de productions brutes et de voix de bête sauvage mi-mâle, mi-femelle, vous allez adorer !

Originaire de Sudbury (Ontario), les Canadiens énervés de Strange Attractor traînent leur punk sur la scène musicale américaine depuis la parution de leur premier album éponyme en 2009. Emmené par Jeff Houle, le groupe avait livré l’année dernière l’EP Mutant Love. Le 15 novembre 2013, Strange Attractor poursuivra sa carrière en proposant son troisième opus Back to the Cruel World.
Pixbear




Finalmente un po’ di garage punk putrido al punto giusto, che prende le distanze dagli esercizi di stile vintage leccati e fini a se stessi, degni del peggior hipster e delle derive che si sono generate spesso da questo genere. I canadesi Strange Attractor giungono meno inquadrati dei The Seeds e più incazzati dei The Spits col nuovo album ‘Back To The Cruel World’, che consta ben quattordici brani raccolti in venti minuti scarsi. La brevità delle tracce (nessuna arriva a due minuti di durata) è fondamentale per esprimere la vena punk, anche perché implica necessariamente una destrutturazione delle canzoni nei confronti dei canoni commerciali. I suoni sono azzeccati, in pieno stile lo-fi, grezzi come i riff, diretti e rumorosi, senza pretese pseudo-intellettuali. L’album risulta molto facile all’ascolto pur essendo fuori dagli schemi, perché porta con sé originalità, energia e cattiveria, ma anche una buona dose di autoironia, come ci dimostra il trittico di canzoni ‘Feel Like Total Shit’, ‘This Is Total Shit’ e ‘I’m Total Shit’. Per queste caratteristiche di genuinità ‘Back To The Cruel World’ può essere un buon album da ascoltare anche per chi non frequenta abitualmente queste sonorità.
(Francesco Banci) 8/10. Salad Days Magazine, Italy

Fair warning: be careful when listening to Back to the Cruel World in public, as the inevitable head banging is sure to attract attention.

It’s befitting that Strange Attractor’s lead vocalist and frontman Jeff Houle opens the first track with an exasperated scream, setting the tone appropriately for the remainder of the album. Back to the Cruel World is the third full-length LP from the Sudbury-based group, with none of the album’s 14 songs clocking in past the two-minute mark. From start to finish, Strange Attractor sets you up for a relentless joyride, filled with grimy guitar licks, rage-riddled vocals, and enough snare drum rolls to make your head spin. It’s noise rock at its most unpolished and gruesome (and, therefore, at its finest).

The simultaneously menacing and restless sounds of “Escape from DMT” and “Real Dark Place” force you to yell along to their often unintelligible lyrics, while “In Your Eyes” perfectly strips away any notion of fancy guitar work in favour of chord progressions so simple your grandma could learn them—if she wasn’t already preoccupied with telling you to turn that damn racket down.

It would be an injustice not to mention the affectionately nicknamed “Total Shit Trilogy,” composed of “Feel Like Total Shit,” “This is Total Shit,” and “I’m Total Shit.” This trifecta of vulgarity comes together to encapsulate all the feelings of everyone’s rebellious teen years, rich with references to hangovers and fist fights that will bring you back to the night when you totaled your parents’ minivan like it was yesterday.

Back to the Cruel World will likely be written off as screechy punk trash by many, but those willing to give the compilation the chance it deserves may find something great (and more than likely sweaty) in Strange Attractor’s explosive creation. DISCORDER

BEST OF 2013

No other record was quite as absurd and disgraceful as this disheveled mess from Strange Attractor. Boasting 14 mangled tracks ranging anywhere from crusty speed punk to squealing noise rock, Strange Attractor’s plan is a little more complex than just shoving mindless racket down your throat. Weaved into their nasty songs are a slew and angry and disgusted messages about aliens and feeling utterly helpless, so why not join them on their downward spiral straight to hell? #2 Styrofoam Done Top 30 of 2013

Snotty, jerky punk with a penchant for mushroom munching. Kind of like a druggy Circle Jerks. I must have listened to”This is Total Shit” a dozen times in a row the first time I put this on. Hippie Cult

A 19-minute blast of punk-rock isolation and alienation, this is the first Canadian release from Sudbury’s Strange Attractor—one of Canada’s, sadly, best-kept secrets. #2 Vue Weekly

Strange Attractor – Back To The Cruel World – Anti-socialites Strange Attractor present all the things missing in so much of today’s punk rock: snottiness, weirdness, and danger. A messy record that makes one feel alive in their bedroom mosh pit. CFCR Saskatoon

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released November 15, 2013

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