The 10 Best Bay Area Albums of 2016: CCR Headcleaner, 'Tear Down the Wall'

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CCR Headcleaner

Some of the songs on CCR Headcleaner’s Tear Down the Wall end with their guitar amps petering out just like they do on old Misfits and Melvins records, and it makes the album that much more perfect. When a song like “I’m Alive” finishes, you want to hear it die like a squealing animal after it beat you down with its sweet riffage.

A record like Tear Down the Wall should be that kind of trip -- heavy, dark and BRUTAL. You don’t put on a record that has naked woman swinging a guitar on fire at a wall of amps on the cover and expect to hear soothing acoustic guitars and a choir singing. You wanna hear screaming -- lots of it -- and you want those riffs to be as face-melting hot as the flames coming off that guitar.

The cover art for CCR Headcleaner's 'Tear Down the Wall.'
The cover art for CCR Headcleaner's 'Tear Down the Wall.'

Tear Down the Wall is the 8-year-old San Francisco band’s second album, but it seems like it's the first one that has a shot at making the band something bigger. The label that released it, In The Red, became somewhat of a household name thanks to garage punk groups like Jay Reatard and the Reigning Sound. But label head Larry Hardy long ago eschewed any rules for his label stable, and in recent years he’s been supporting heavy neo proto-metal groups like Fuzz, Wand and the Zig Zags (whose new album on Castleface is a must-own). With Hardy on their team, CCR Headcleaner might see some of the same success as labelmates Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall.

Label support and popularity aside, this record just plain smokes. In our formula-loving world, Tear Down the Wall could be described as the Butthole Surfers at their most Black Sabbathy, but with the sonic force of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Yet that base description leaves out the genius of CCR Headcleaner's musical pivots, like the one in “Eat This Riff” that goes from a chugging KARP-inspired verse to a chorus that could’ve been written by The Hunches, the noisy-but-tuneful punkers from Portland. It’s so technically difficult it's almost "prog," but the results are too brutal to be put in the same camp as a Yes song.


In conclusion, Tear Down the Wall is for serious riff lovers like myself. Yes, we're still out there, and we'd like to say "thank you" CCR Headcleaner for remembering us during a time when more people are playing laptops than guitars. It's a dark time; it feels like riffs aren't worshipped like they were, even though bands like Sabbath and Metallica are still around. Thankfully we have CCR Headcleaner, who are still preaching the gospel and still taking us to church.


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E-40, 'The D-Boy Diaries Books 1 &2'
Fantastic Negrito, 'The Last Days of Oakland'
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, 'A Man Alive'
Jay Som, 'Turn Into'