Fast and Furious 

Be Your Own Pet grow up on their new record

From the opening Sabbath-like riff of “Thresher’s Flail,” Be Your Own Pet’s major-label debut proves their first single “Damn, Damn Leash”—and the tempest it created in Nashville’s indie rock teapot two years ago—was no fluke.
From the opening Sabbath-like riff of “Thresher’s Flail,” Be Your Own Pet’s major-label debut proves their first single “Damn, Damn Leash”—and the tempest it created in Nashville’s indie rock teapot two years ago—was no fluke. Like the world’s fastest roller coaster, Kingda Ka, the self-titled record takes the listener on a breakneck journey, with 15 tracks that are short and fast, born of furious pacing and rock-solid hooks. From the opening Sabbath-like riff of “Thresher’s Flail,” Be Your Own Pet’s major-label debut proves their first single “Damn, Damn Leash”—and the tempest it created in Nashville’s indie rock teapot two years ago—was no fluke. Like the world’s fastest roller coaster, Kingda Ka, the self-titled record takes the listener on a breakneck journey, with 15 tracks that are short and fast, born of furious pacing and rock-solid hooks. Though their hell-bent-for-leather approach betrays a love of punk, there’s evidence of an an emerging musicianship. The intertwined distortion of bassist Nathan Vasquez and guitarist Jonas Stein offsets the ragged frenzy of songs like “Wildcat!,” which rages through its minute and 20 seconds like Sleater-Kinney at the world’s last garage sale. Fetching looks aside, vocalist Jemina Pearl’s presence once threatened to overshadow the band. Her contribution is more muted now; on songs like “Girls on TV,” the singer recalls Romeo Void’s Debora Iyall or S-K’s Corin Tucker. Pearl (née Abegg) is still a force to be reckoned with (witness her cry of “I’m an independent motherfucker!” on “Bunk Trunk Skunk”), but as a team player her childlike sexuality is toned down and even more insurgent. It’s true that BYOP were never truly indie. Drummer Jamin Orrall is the son of songwriter (and Al Gore pal) Robert Ellis Orrall; Stein’s father is manager Burt Stein, and Pearl is the daughter of music photog Jimmy Abegg. Since forming in ’02, the childhood friends have enjoyed unlimited use of the senior Orrall’s studio and the family’s business connections. And given their early association with production types like Angelo (Kings of Leon), Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo), Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes) and Jaquire King (Modest Mouse), it’s hard to argue that they haven’t had a leg up. But connections are a double-edged sword, and it’s worth noting that industry clamor contributed to delays in getting the band’s CD out. All manner of managerial shakeups and music biz fuckery—too convoluted to enter into here—preceded its release. At one point, so much attention was lavished on the band that, as one inside source says, “Following BYOP was like going to South By Southwest every night.” In the end, Universal/Ecstatic Peace Records, an offshoot label founded by Thurston Moore, was the suitor left standing. Be Your Own Pet was recorded in Nashville by Stephen McDonald and engineered by Jeremy Ferguson; it will be distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Universal, with UK label XL Records handling availability elsewhere. Between preparation for the record and side projects (Jamin and brother Jake run boutique label Infinity Cat), the band have logged a remarkable amount of studio time in the last four years. As any studio vet will tell you, there’s no substitute for that kind of learning. Also, BYOP’s semi-regular touring includes appearances at UK’s Glastonbury and Reading/Leeds festivals. Connections may have helped get a foot in the door, but their new record proves that BYOP can deliver over the long haul. Be Your Own Pet shows a young band at the peak of its powers, and that’s more exhilarating than any carnival ride.

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