New Orleans-via-Houston tandem Caddywhompus sticks to a simple objective: assault the eardrums. This much was made clear on the collegiate noise-rock duo’s 2009 debut, EPs, an incendiary and underrated effort which positioned the group amongst the South’s top indie acts. A year later, now aligned with New Orleans’ Community Records, the twosome return with Remainder, an equally unhinged, increasingly focused aural onslaught.
On the surface, not much has changed with Caddywhompus. Once again, the pair plays like a couple of muppets run amok. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Rehm churns out a slew of gonzo riffs as his buddy, Sean Hart, beats the bejesus out of the drums. It’s on the production side where Remainder trumps its predecessor. The abrasive transitions and ear-piercing shrieks found on EPs have been replaced with well-timed blitzes and escalating cascades, yielding a more perceptible balance between tension and release, or, in this case, chaos and melody.
Somewhere beneath the jerky rhythms and distorted guitar of the opener, “Let the Water Hit the Floor,” an air of detachment begins to mount, and it becomes apparent that Remainder will be a denser, more insular junket than one might expect. Turns out, it’s a full-fledged existential crisis. And while there’s nothing as carefree or irreverent as EPs’ “Absinthesizer,” Remainder’s standout, “Guilt,” is sure to jilt even the most highbrow of hipsters. Somewhere through this frenzied barrage of discordant fuzz, Rehm’s oft-buried angst creeps up. “What my future holds / It’s what frightens me,” he squeals against the reckless rattle of “Congo Half-Masks.” How we deal with what comes next is the thread the holds the album together; Caddywhompus’ solution is clearest on the album’s most lucid track “Same Difference,” an eerie, drifting requiem: “What’s my secret that I’ve kept from myself / It’s out of my mind.”