The debut album from Obits—the latest band to showcase vocalist/guitarist Rick Froberg—is not what you might expect.
It doesn't echo the blistering post-punk swirl of Hot Snakes, or the avant-apocalypse grind of Drive Like Jehu. Joined by Edsel's Sohrab Habibion on guitar, Shortstack drummer Scott Gursky, and bassist Greg Simpson, Froberg turns the clock back, rather than forward.
Jehu and Snakes both channeled a bleak futurism—Jehu's epic Yank Crime, from 1994, rendered hardcore as a kind of unstoppable, mechanized pulse, and the Snakes' fantastic Audit in Progress articulated a sound befitting the landscape Mel Gibson traversed in The Road Warrior.
The sound on I Blame You lacks that kind of nihilism and filth. Froberg instead goes back to the roots of rock 'n' roll, looking mainly to the mid-'60s garage rock of bands like The Zombies or The Pretty Things. Songs like "Milk Cow Blues," "SUD" and "Pine On" are simple garage numbers on which Froberg's vocals channel a plaintive soulful growl more than a post-hard-core screech. There's still a bit of edge to songs like "Light Sweet Crude" and "Fake Kinkade," but the band never goes all-out punk like garage-revivalists The Peechees or The Gories did. "Back and Forth" could actually have played back at the sock hop alongside "Louie Louie."
There are some odd moments, like "Run," which sounds like Lee Ranaldo channeling mid-'80s new wave, but most of I Blame You is consistent, classic retro-rock.