Seems like most contemporary punk bands feel the need to always go further and further, more extreme than everything that came before, more or less becoming a ridiculous parody of itself.
Few groups can strip away all that bullshit, leaving the primitive anger seething under repeating parts with only a few notes a piece. This reduction, and knowing how to do it well, is all too rare a trait these days.
Le Chômage does exactly that. Hailing from one of the most vital punk/experimental/industrial/sinister what-have-you scenes that I've heard in a long time (Strasbourg, France) and containing members of many great bands from La Grande Triple Alliance Internationale de l'Est: Guitar: Nafi (The Dreams, Scorpion Violente, The Anals, AH Kraken, The Funk Police, etc.), Bass/Organ: Seb Normal (The Feeling of Love, Delacave, Prison Beat, The Normals, The Cheeraks, etc.), Drums: Nic Normal (The Normals, The Cheeraks, etc.), and Vocals/Organ: Baron Dimanche (???). If you're familiar with those bands you may have an idea what kind of great stuff is in store here...and unfortunately, if you look for The Normals online, you're most likely to find the American Christian "alternative rock" band of the same name...
Whether they're playing slower tempo (Hemoragie, Moche), restrained, grinding mid-tempo tracks, set to explode (Dorniek, Traitre, Legionelle), full punk fury (Knees, 1 Minute) or any combination therein, they all seem to burn with the same sinister energy, leaving the receptive listener feeling good about their bad thoughts. Pummeling rhythm section, clamoring guitar noise, barked, screamed, or sung vocals seem to encircle the listener like a hungry shark toying with its food...but somehow leaves you feeling like the hungry shark yourself.
This album is also a great example of raw, gritty, distorted recording done just right. Everything sounds rough (in a great way), yet still clear...a wonderfully common thread in many bands from Le Grande Triple Alliance.
In case you're curious, their name means "Unemployment." Fucking great.
Somehow, bands with these odd-sinister qualities played in such a direct way unfortunately go over a lot of people's heads, but punk was never done for the masses, anyways.
It's just great to know there are still people out there making music like this.
Link to listen/buy:
and live recordings by many great French bands, including Le Chômage: