JACK O' FIREBeware The Souless Cool
1 + 2/Get Hip
THESE TEXANS ARE the self-proclaimed "scissors of Matisse," the "sax of Coltrane" and the "wail of Ginsberg." They're also maniacs who specialize in deconstructing the blooze. Sorta like "testifying the blues," minus the whitewashed, homogenized treatments generally rendered by all those Alligator and Black Top bands.
So you get covers of The Cramps, The Who and Wire (huh?) alongside Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and Link Wray. From the lo-fi din of ultra-distorted vocals, crude riffing, and drunken harp honk emerges a band that's seriously in the pocket. I know you'll trust me when I assert that the Bar-kays' "Soul Finger" is lavished with a primitive love, not to mention Clarence Carter's "Ain't Got You" getting the kind of delirium tremens treatment no Yardbirds fan should miss.
RED THUNDERMakoce Wakan
WHEN I PICKED up the Red Thunder EP at a powwow, the young lady who sold it to me beamed and assured me that they were "the best Indian group in America."
Fifty-thousand in sales and a slot on the '95 H.O.R.D.E. later, Robby Romero & Co. just may justify that praise with this full-length effort. Guitarist/vocalist Romero is a skillful, charismatic folk-rocker on tracks like "Sacred Ground" and "Heartbeat" (the latter's upbeat, jangly and primed for radio). Yet by weaving in traditional sounds (rattles, rainsticks, flute, chants) his band's roots remain proudly on display; instrumental "Xuna" is cinematic music-making at its best.
And personally speaking, anybody that dedicates a record to Jessie Ed Davis and Gene Clark will always be tops in my book.
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ANTISEEN (the band) and Zebulon (the burg) can be found this N.C. trio. Since Lustre references neither that state's scuzzpunk underbelly nor the buzzchunk mainstream, it's tempting to say that pop's outer limits are being pushed. True, the distortion-fueled guitar sound is about as delicate as a rusty bandsaw, the muscular beat as polite as an irate club bouncer. Twee, the band ain't. But beating beneath this burly surface is the romantic heart of traditionalism descended directly from such pop icons as Matthew Sweet (the screwy-but-catchy vocals and the guitar swagger of "Musta Been Cool") and Tommy Keene ("Sheer" has a gorgeous melody and the same yearning quality that makes Keene so great). For a young band's debut, this is a remarkably mature effort--one that predicts a great future to boot.
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