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Tuff Guy Electronics

by Marijuana Deathsquads

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Marijuana Deathsquads’ Tuff Guy Electronics is the first new music that the Minneapolis centered collective has released since 2013. It simultaneously sounds like a heavily digitized ride on the motorik highway and a droll stroll through the apocalypse, the kind of music only people with conceptual talent to burn (and an inherent desire to touch that flame) choose to envision. It’s a pop-avant-garde paean to the space between an abstract higher power and the creative open road — full of primal groove and techno subtlety, but beholden to neither. If you claim Marijuana Deathsquads to be the Midwest’s answer to Boredoms (or at least F*ck B*tt*ns), they probably wouldn’t mind the compliment.

Though the Deathsquads line-up on Tuff Guy Electronics is — as has always been the case — a loosely defined and mutating structure, its core consists of long time Marijuaners Ryan Olson, Ben Ivascu and Isaac Gale; with first-time smoker Trever Hagen also heavily involved. These names are constants amidst a blur of bold-faces (Justin Vernon and Alex “Boys Noize” Ridha), secret heroes (drummers Greg Fox, Chris Egan and Freddy Votel, fine artist/ambient guru Eric Timothy Carlson), and a growing army of talented musical thinkers, many of whom play with Bon Iver, Gayngs, Polica, Har Mar Superstar and a host of other bands in Minneapolis’ cross-pollinating musical scene.

The album was predominantly recorded during a residency at Pioneer Works, the artist retreat/studio/gallery/venue located in Brooklyn’s secluded Red Hook neighborhood; at Funkhaus, the legendary recording palace built by the East German government and recently refurbished in Berlin; and throughout Minneapolis. It is a collection of late-night head-nods, comedowns and might-have-beens. Or as one of the song-titles here, puts it pretty succinctly, “Ain't Been Right Since That Party.” Yup, that!

Electronics is also a staggering pastiche of power and glide, and throughout its 32 minutes, it splits that difference – at times track by track, at times within them. “Last Sunny Day” is an epic evolution, opening with a trance-like processional at the end of the world, before exploding into a drum circle that at least contemplates an affirmation of life. If “Party” opens with the noisy, heavily processed heat of faraway suns burning, it descends into a lo-fi, industrial-pop bad trip. “O No” moves on symphonic pop-hymnal chords in the direction its lyrics dictate, from the serenity of “a strange and beautiful dream” to an attack by vengeful cops — and sounds like the best Flaming Lips song in more than 20 years. And the closing “Where That Wild Thing Is?” is another epic, a kitchen-sink approach to rhythm and composition, the kind of track that could have been conceived in one psychedelic sitting or by a thousand cuts over years, and we’ll never know the difference. As expected with this mostly testosterone-fuelled affair, there are also Tuff Guy noise asides throughout.


released October 12, 2018

Album Art: Eric Carlson
Album Design: Daniel Kent

Recorded and Mixed at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn; Funkhaus, Berlin; AB EC; & MPLS 2016/17

Engineer/Mix: Josh Berg

Art: Eric Timothy Carlson

Master'd: Huntley Miller

Gabriel Florenz, Nadine May, Tom Michelberger, Pioneer Works, Dustin Yellin, Joe Mabbot, Sam & Zac Zorch, JoLynn Garnes, Brian McOmber, Andrew Broder


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Marijuana Deathsquads Minneapolis, Minnesota


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Track Name: Last Sunny Day
On the last sunny day
In the hour, the minute
You won’t know
Was it all a joke?

On the last sunny day
Shoulda slopped on all this stuff
Just glistened for a while

Now we’re out here
With the trees and the stones
Looking for a fire
In the blinding snow

On the last sunny day
Didn’t take a step outside
That was a mistake
What a mistake

I wish I’d let it burn a hole through my face

We didn’t know
Can’t say we didn’t know
Now we’re out here
With the trees and the stones
Looking for a fire
In the blinding snow

Now we’re down here
With the slime and the mold
Now we’re desperate for light, space, time
We got nowhere to go
Track Name: Ain't Been Right Since That Party
Ain't been right since that party
I never shoulda spent all that money
Nobody never did nothin for me
That's how it is

Been followed by a black cloud always
Everything is crumbling all around us
Every time you need a little more but there's
Never enough

Right now it's a sticky situation
I know a lot of people ain't gonna make it
Gotta find a way to fuck with all these
That’s how it is

So far we’re play-
ing masters of the eons
Never had a single bad idea
Could be permanently tripping off the freedom it’s the
End of the end

Time to take back all the wasted hours
Hold these assholes down & rip back all the power
After that start tearing down the towers
That's how it is

Probably the last time you’ll ever see us
After this we become hallucinations
To forget about the whole mess
Yesterday’s done

That’s how it is
That’s just how it is
We’re just trying to live here
But they won’t let us live
Track Name: O No
I woke up
From a strange and beautiful dream
Set a limousine on fire
and rolled it down the street

The cops came around
Broke into my place
Smashed up all my things
To retaliate

I hope my cats got away

Oh no
I think they’re tapping this phone

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