Falling somewhere between Captain Beefheart, Throbbing Gristle and SALEM in the lineage of musicians who’ve found a muse in the nasty, brutish brevity of life, Supreme Dicks chose to cloak disarmingly real paranoia and grief in the contemporary trappings of late '80s and early '90s lo-fi college rock. They may have inhabited the same sonic and physical space as colleagues like Dinosaur Jr (Lou Barlow was an occasional Dick, and at least one early Dinosaur Jr show was actually played by Dicks in disguise), but they stripped away all youthful yearning and anticipation in favor of a bleak and unblinking certainty. Honest, frank, and free of ironic distance. Obtuse and yet so essential that it can’t help but feel familiar to anyone who’s ever spent a sleepless night wondering whether there's any point to all of this. And, on occasion, warm, intimate and lovely.
The Supreme Dicks formed while students at Massachusetts’ Hampshire College in the twilight of the Reagan era. The campus was a fractured posthippie free-for-all that many students theorized was a right- wing think tank experiment in pitting progressives against each other. The constantly revolving lineup centered around songwriters Daniel Oxenberg and Jon Shere, and whoever else was around and willing to torture an instrument. They advocated the teachings of Wilhelm Reich and were vocal about focusing their creative energy via celibacy. This may do much to explain the constant, unrelenting tension that provides the driving force behind the most powerful moments in their music. Regardless of tempo or arrangement, Supreme Dicks songs play like soundtracks to autoerotic asphyxiation, haunting tones that ring in the ears at the moment consciousness is lost and not guaranteed to return.