If you're compelled to wince at Shit Horse on first glance, that's understandable. The band—three young, white rock musicians from Carrboro and Danny Mason, a black frontman two decades older than the band's youngest member—doesn't do itself many favors: They're called Shit Horse, of course, and the title of their debut cassette is a riff on the 1969 Jane Fonda film about a dance marathon. They have a theme song—"Shit Horse! Is Gonna Ride!," ad infinitum—and they prefer to present their songs via guerilla sets late at night on the streets of Orange County. Their lyrics are a wasteland of scatological and equine references. "Have you ever bitten off more than you could chew? Have you ever had a log you couldn't poo?," the track "Twelve Horses" concludes.
But don't pardon yourself too quickly. They Shit Horses, Don't They? is a collection of seven willfully weird, delightfully corroded Nuggets, each having more to do with defiance and dignity than shit and saddles. The 78-second "Get Out of My Face" is a whipsmart kiss-off. Mason barks at the way the world's been treating him, and the band chants his layman mantra between verses: "I see you every day/ You get into my face/ Won't you just go away/ This job would be pretty cool without you." "Floating/ Drifting" is a brooding builder, guitars, bass and drums slinking through a morass as Mason earnestly condemns some naysayer. The band ratchets the rhythm until they deliver Mason into a post-punk fistfight, his exasperated voice insisting that he won't be defeated. So, yeah, maybe Shit Horse is a gimmick with an attitude and a sense of humor for teenagers. But what else did you think rock 'n' roll promised?