by Josh Levi
St. Louis' musical history features a wealth of local D.I.Y. talent whose cultural significance has further solidified an ever-expanding reputation for true musicianship and solid attitude. Stemming from the underbelly of the river city, bands like Dazzling Killmen, White Pride and In Medias Res have resonated with music enthusiasts both near and far. Unfortunately, as often is the case, it is easy for handfuls of acts to fall into obscurity from the public arena, leaving only recordings. Culled from local band members as well as my personal collection, this feature will highlight recordings that will hopefully find a new home in the hearts of a growing generation of music lovers in St. Louis. This week: "Here's To The Good Life" and "The Last Thing" by Corbeta Corbata.
"The Last Thing" by Corbeta Corbata
Band: Corbeta Corbata (2000-2007) Members: Don Beasley, Ben Smith, Eric Von Damage Related: Doom Town, Nerve Parade, Bunnygrunt, Adversary Workers, Bill McClellan Motherfuckers, Dark Ages Recommended if you like: Nomeansno, The Birthday Party, Shellac, Jesus Lizard, The Minutemen
History: As one of the last bands from the "Two more and a cover!" era, Corbeta Corbata was a band like no other. Featuring three pillars of South St. Louis, the boys in the band grew up as the nerds who got into punk. Too raw to be considered art punk and too left-of-center to be labeled post-punk, Corbeta Corbata created a fresh and unique sound. Often branded with the laughable "angular" tag, Corbeta Corbata combated the label with dynamic songwriting and a punk edge. Infiltrating all venues of the local music community, the band could be seen playing anywhere from the Creepy Crawl to the American Czech Center to the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center -- the band once even played in the middle of a boxing ring!
Learning from the school of Nomeansno, Corbeta Corbata's progressive sound married demented, warped punk with a goofball sense of humor. Full of tempo shifts and jazz elements, the freight train pacing of Von Damage's airtight percussion complemented the raw tone of Smith's hyper-active basslines. Don Beasley's treble-stenched guitar rips hovered above the rhythm section, creating a hypnotic swirl of reverb. With song lyrics echoing themes of working class sentiment and rigid self-assessment, Smith's guttural vocal delivery was almost maniacal, matched by his primal grimace during live shows.
Live, the band's danceable brand of off-kilter punk bridged the gap between punks and weirdos. Often you could find local rabble-rouser Peat Henry (of the Pubes) yelping in unison to "Shank or Shiv" or the crowd fist-pumping to the anthematic climax of "Simpher," shouting along: "This is not acceptable!" Maturing in terms of songwriting over the years, Corbeta Corbata remains a huge influence for future generations of St. Louis punk kids, always gaining confidence but never lacking grit.
"Here's To The Good Life" featured on the s/t demo (2002), released by the Compound.