Mutual Jerk

About a month ago, Mutual Jerk teased an upcoming album with the scorching single “He’s Harmless.” A couple of weeks later, an untitled 7″ appeared on their Bandcamp page and at their shows. Now, they’ve finally announced a proper release for the record (June 9 at 529). The band started working on the three-song record nearly a year ago, and it finally saw the light of day thanks to local juggernaut State Laughter Records. The new 7″ distills the four-piece’s frenzied live shows and highlights the emotional depth and vulnerability which make their aggressive social critiques so powerful.

Mutual Jerk began as somewhat of a punk experiment. It was singer Tyler Roberts’ first time fronting a punk band in ATL, as well as the first time guitarist Bobby Michaud and drummer Rob Sarabia attempted playing their respective instruments, but the band quickly found their footing. The few tentative moments scattered throughout the band’s 2015 demo have been replaced with a willingness to go straight for the throat of social issues like rape culture and homophobia. Roberts’ clever commentary is sharp and impassioned — especially on standout track “S.S.W.M.” — and the whole package is wound up in jagged rhythms which leave just enough room for the acerbic lyrics to infiltrate the room before Roberts moves on to his next target.

Initially, Roberts wanted to title the record Male Friendship, because, as he puts its, “every song has a loose theme of analyzing a specific kind of function of male friendship.” In part, it’s this detail-oriented ambition which makes the 7″ such a consequential hardcore record. On the other hand, the brevity of the album accentuates the band’s laconic style. The raw honesty of “He’s Harmless” and the blunt synopsis of small town life in “Parking Lot” sting so sharply because the band never belabors the point or preaches to the listener. Throughout each of the tracks, Mutual Jerk takes root in the sordid realities of 21st century America, while hacking at the tentacles of greed, desire, and violence which threaten to infect the core of the Atlanta punk scene.

UPDATE: In the above review, I regrettably didn’t mention the contributions of bassist and songwriter Sam Camirand to the 7″ and I am sincerely sorry. It was an especially gross mistake considering one of the main purposes of Mutual Jerk: to destroy the chokehold of toxic masculinity on punk. In addition to their songwriting, anyone who has seen Mutual Jerk perform knows how critical Camirand’s consistent bass work is to the band, and on the 7″ it underpins the momentum which grows throughout the record. The pinnacle of the record, “He’s Harmless” was drawn directly from some of Camirand’s own experiences, and the frustration which oozes from each sarcastic line is emphasized in their playing. I know I’ve said it before, but Atlanta needs Mutual Jerk — and my screw up only emphasizes that fact all the more.

Mutual Jerk will celebrate the release of their 7″ on Fri., June 9 at 529. Supporting them will be Lois Righteous, Mannequin Lover, and Trashcan. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission TBA. 21+ to enter.

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