Like all those freak-folk collectives, Dark Meat is a massive, ever-revolving gaggle of musicians and friends -- Day-Glo southerners caught in a train wreck between the Cockettes and the USA Is a Monster.
Dark Meat, however, is no campfire sing-along. Hailing from Athens, Georgia, the outfit's screaming freak rock recalls such classic proto-punks as Debris, Kevin Ayers, and Todd Tamanend Clark. These are dudes who filtered anthemic glam rock, avant-blues à la Captain Beefheart, psychedelic madness, and manic prog chops through punk's fuck-you abandon.
But unlike your typical proto-punk, Dark Meat isn't primitive. Cranking Universal Indians, the group's 2006 debut, reveals a large ensemble that's relentlessly cacophonous, but never sloppy. Not only does the group weave country twang, R&B, show-tune moxie, and gospel into its mix; the band also features seriously skilled musicians, including a full horn section and a trio of backup singers calling themselves the Subtweeters. These gals sure can howl -- as can the rest of Dark Meat.