The freakout post-punk of Celebrity Death Slot Machine—a.k.a. CDSM—sounds like the backdrop of a vague and hallucinatory David Cronenberg film, or that point in From Dusk Till Dawn when everyone starts turning into vampires. You’re not really sure what’s happening or why, but you’re left thoroughly entertained. A dizzying array of battling synths, chaotic drum shifts, swirling saxophones, and vocal refrains reminiscent of Viagra Boys, The Birthday Party, or even the goth wave of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” CDSM’s debut EP Hell Stairs is the perfect musical cocktail of the appealingly bizarre.
This band, helmed by Ben Presley, Tyler Jundt, and John Restivo Jr. (past and current members of Material Girls, Mother, Neighbor Lady, and Rose Hotel), could easily be the next big name that starts dominating the underground/cult music scene. It’s a palpable sound easy for any listener to sink their teeth into, even though it’s technical and, at times, feels highly improvised and no-wavey.
Opener “Concrete,” with its brutalist synthpunk, is full of crooning swagger, while “666” is pure darkened madness. “GFH” is a demented disco burner telling the story of a man who cuts a deal with the police, goes undercover, is found out, and murdered—then comes back as a re-incarnated wolf. Yes, the story is weird, but the music matches every twist and turn.
The aptly named Hell Stairs seems like it’s only scratching the surface of what these guys are capable of. While many bands have the same kind of setup, no one has utilized this kind of sonic lineup as well as CDSM in years.