Rhythm & Views


Early Hour Blues

(Blind Pig Records)


CRAYTON'S HEYDAY AS a blues guitarist was in the '40s and '50s, thanks to having built on the popularity of his mentor, T-Bone Walker. Though his popularity in ensuing decades never equalled his early success, the music remained aggressively urban and contemporary. The material presented here was taken from his last two albums, recorded in 1983 and 1984 for the small Murray Brothers label. Crayton's an intense stylist who phrases with far more passion than damn near any other guitarist, thanks to the jazz influence of Walker. Lots of the material can be classified as jump blues, which, given its cousin status to swing, may very well become the next New Thing when the retro swing fad plays itself out. Swingsters currently looking to swim into deeper waters might want to check out Crayton's cocky, up-tempo take on the blues.

-- Dave McElfresh





DAVE CRIDER DIDN'T waste much time when he broke up his turbo-charged, ass-kickin' rock 'n' roll band The Mono Men; he formed Watts, a "turbo-charged, ass-kickin' rock 'n' roll" band" (his words). Watts is less garagey/dragstrip rock than the Monos, more metallic punk vibed in the same vein as the Stooges and the Fluid, Bob heroes The Lazy Cowgirls, and a host of classic '80s Australian bands including New Christs, Eastern Dark, Celibate Rifles, etc. The sound is stripped-down and electric in its immediacy -- Jeff Braimes' vocals in particular are in-your-face, and when he engages the old call-and-response with Crider, it's like having a pair of leather-lunged stereo speakers blaring right up next to your head. And whether ripping through a thrashy, hardcore gallop like "Star Fukka," taking the pace down a few notches for a slice of melodic, bloozy, misery-drenched psych in "Out Of My Mind" or ripping a page from the Mudhoney songbook with the piercingly vicious "Goddam Devil," Watts consistently stalks the edge, teetering at the brink, daring the listener to take the leap with 'em.

-- Fred Mills


Veterans of Disorder

(Drag City)


I'VE ONLY STOLEN two things in my life: a bag of Doritos and last year's much underrated and fantastically catchy Accelerator by the Royal Trux, which I took home to review and just wasn't able to let go of. The Trux sound like a psychedelic boogie band à la Sticky Fingers-era Stones. Keeping with the tradition of every Trux release, Veterans takes repeated listens before all the pieces come together. Building off the multi-layered elements of Accelerator, Veterans adds more straight-forward rock to the mix. The tracks seem to progress from the rockin' Waterpark to the layered and chaotic Sickazz Dog, ending with the opus Blue is the Frequency, which seems to tie it all together. Listening directions: Invite all your friends over to dance to side one; and kick back and trip out on side two. Repeat 18 times.

-- Brian Mock


Sunset Beach: The Best Of The Sentinals



WACKO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA producer/Del-Fi labelhead Bob Keane is experiencing a well-deserved resurrection of interest thanks to a resurgence of interest in surf music. His new clout's no doubt fueled by nostalgia, appreciation of primitive rock and roll, and/or a tendency to bask in the bad taste associated with surf and lounge music. No matter. And no big thing that The Sentinals certainly offer nothing that tops the Beach Boys or even the Ventures. But unintentionally, the band's twangy guitar, '50s era sax section and beach-born revision of R&B makes it a West Coast update of the blues that demands attention. Yeah, it's generally corny, but so are most of the baby-baby songs sung by Southerners during the same era. Though yet to be designated as such, this regional material needs to be given credit as how young white Californians successfully interpreted the black music that evolved into various flavors of rock and roll all across the country. That aside, they're great party tunes, especially for rolling out the second keg.

-- Dave McElfresh

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