In this edition: Endless Boogie, Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’, Wire, The Night Marchers, and Guided By Voices.
Dennis’ Pick of the Week:
Endless Boogie: Long Island (No Quarter)
This is that not fade away, chakra massaging, get it done like you needs to get it done good shit. Three albums in, these NYC chooglin’ pros have fully snagged the dragon they’ve been chasing since 2001. Long Island (released February 19) drops in from such a high altitude, track after track, that it’s hard to conceive how they maintain their massive, salacious groove and unexpected kick-strut through each elongated stream of consciousness boogie. And it’s a damn good thing they’ve got that word in their moniker because it’s THE one that fits, both in terms of spiritual inspiration John Lee Hooker and the long hairs he attracted after his 60s/70s revival and the boogie man lurking in the shadows, the badness we’re endlessly fascinated with and whose scare we crave even as we publicly throw up our arms in fear.
Frankly, it’s kinda amazing to find a band so unadulterated by fashion and free of irony in 2013. Too often the vintage/nostalgia brand gets pressed on Endless Boogie but take a good listen, particularly on Long Island, and there’s no direct line to any of their supposed ancestors. Sure, a cut like Taking Out The Trash gives Exile-era Stones a more than solid run for their money, but it’s the only joint here that has any visible fingerprints. For all the Canned Heat, Blue Cheer, Can, et al. references they’ve garnered, Endless Boogie is simply a band utterly and completely after IT in the same way as the foundational cats that made rock hucklebuck in ways that reverberate today, tomorrow and forevermore. This band is on the same trail, voracious and hunting-dog-eyed in their search for the churn ‘n’ burn that gets folks off.
Endless Boogie is the kind of album you take as your sole listening for a long road trip, the sort without a lot of maps and an openness to whatever the fuck stumbles into your path; the kind of journey where you might bed a witch or meet your spirit animal in the badlands of America’s bulging underbelly. The sound is thick and full of hands and whispered notions about William Tecumseh Sherman and night trains, a vibe for hippies, freaks, and other creatures speeding and sauntering in the hours before dawn, a beatific, diamond-tipped chug both holy and profane, the dual poles greased up and wrestling in a steamy yin-yang while guitars run their fingers through your hair and you wonder where you are and how you got so far from home.
Calling a record classic right out of the gate is a bit of a fool’s errand, but I’m not always that smart in such ways. Like Endless Boogie, I feel it’s better to shout one’s passions from the rooftops without concern for propriety or temperance. So, I’ll say it: Endless Boogie is a newly minted classic. And these guys even have boss Beefheart-ian nicknames worthy of their monster sound: Jesper “The Governor” Eklow (guitar), Paul “Top Dollar” Major (guitar, vocals), Mark “Memories From Reno” Ohe (bass) and Harry Druzd (drums). Remember them, children, because this Boogie is the real deal, and y’all know there’s way too few of those roaming ‘round nowadays. (Dennis Cook)
Dennis’ Runner-Up of the Week:
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’: Songs From The Psychedelic Time Clock (New! Records)
What Kevn Kinney and the good men in Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ have done over the past year with their EP series is pretty ingenious. Each volume has been a celebration of the inspirations and passions that drive this band and their leader AND a showcase that this band can damn near play any style of rock they please AND play the living hell out of it, too. Songs From The Psychedelic Time Clock (released April 19), the third of four planned EPs, sets the Peppermint Alarm Clock for the late 60s to show what D n’ R learned from early Kinks, The Pretty Things, and LSD-laced Beatles. The sonic palette here adds sitar tones, 12-string jangle and other elements, expanding on the gutbucket rock ‘n’ roll the band usually practices – though anyone paying attention to Kinney’s solo work will recognize some of these colors.
While 60s leaning fare often feels like a fairground caricature of the original, this rolls with real style and sincerity, though a big heart and wide creative arms are a hallmark of Kinney’s personality and songwriting, particularly in recent years where compassion and raising a voice for the voiceless – amidst blazing power chords and bouncing rhythms – has been prevalent in his tunes. Beyond the underlying ethos, some of this EP just feels fuckin’ great – the Pink Floyd-y epilogue to Upside Down Round and Round, the tambourine dappled paisley buzz of Sometimes The Rain, or the Dave Davies worthy charge of The Little Record Store Around The Corner all spring to mind. This unfolding public love affair with all things rock is a real pleasure – a two-word phrase that neatly sums up these great American survivors.
Ron’s Pick of the Week:
Wire: Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)
Theoretically, the fourth Wire album is their excellent, underrated 1987 comeback LP The Ideal Copy, largely overlooked by the hype machine who swears by the group’s first three full-lengths Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154. But in a classic twist as post-modern as the band itself, the English punk greats’ 13th album is comprised of material they had written as song sketches in 1979 and 1980 for what would have been their fourth proper outing had they not spent much of the 80s on hiatus. Most of these tunes were incorporated into their infamous 1981 live set Document and Eyewitness in addition to singer Colin Newman’s 1982 solo turn Not To as well as Wire’s 1996 rarities compilation Turns and Strokes. But on Change Becomes Us (released March 26), material beloved by the group’s diehard fanbase like Lorries (now B/W Silence), 5/10 (now Time Lock Fog) and Ally in Exile (now opening cut Doubles & Trebles) are given a second breath of life as part of the group’s post-Bruce Gilbert output. What transpires is a wild kind of parallel universe in the world of Wire where they are writing songs exactly like they did in their late 70s heyday but in the mature style of their present incarnation. Now all they need is Mr. Gilbert back in the fold. [Listen to full album here]. (Ron Hart)
Ron’s Runner-Up of the Week:
The Night Marchers: Allez Allez (Swami)
If you’ve followed the career of John Reis and the great bands he has formed over the course of the last twenty-odd years, be it Pitchfork, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu or Rocket from the Crypt, no matter how different each respective project may be there is the thread of consistency in the California-born sonic swami’s unique hybrid of streetcar rock and hardcore punk that is entirely his own, give or take a horn section. The trend continues on the second album from his latest outfit, The Night Marchers. Though it was recorded in 2010, Reis allowed these dozen songs he has crafted alongside three-quarters of Hot Snakes to ferment for a good three years before unleashing them on the public. And the anticipation to hear it seems to make Allez Allez (released January 22) sound all the better, coming across like a union of Speedo’s entire stable of acts melded together into a wildfire of old school indie rage. Dig it! (RH)
Ron’s Bonus Review:
Guided By Voices: English Little League (GBV Inc.)
Guided By Voices press agents promise English Little League (released April 30) will be the only LP the classic lineup of the Dayton greats will be putting out in 2013. A good thing too, ‘cuz this is by far the Voices’ best work since the reunion kicked off four years ago. Recorded in frontman Robert Pollard’s newly furbished man cave studio, League is vintage GBV through and through, teeming with the kind of drunken late night home brew of British Invasion passion and American power pop purity that has defined the best moments of this band for three decades. (RH)