Rhythm and Views
NOVEMBER 16, 1998:
THESE THREE BORED teenage Memphis bad-asses would scare the petrified shit out of Elvis' rotting corpse if they came within spitting distance of his grave. Take equal amounts of lo-fi slop-blues garage raunch of Japanese trash-rock desperadoes Guitar Wolf, and the speed-punk wrath of porno freaks the Dwarves and you'll get the Reatards, a band that will leave you scratching your nuts, utterly dazed and confused after hearing their twisted take on hopeless teenage angst and wasted youth. Shake your fist to "When I Get Mad" before Jon Spencer does--after he hears the similarity to any one of his hipster-chic, blues-punk explosions, he'll be looking to lynch these snot-nosed mofos. However, what does set these raging hormonal serial killers apart from the Blues Explosion is the full-throttle, in-yer-face delivery that Spencer abandoned once Pussy Galore called it quits. The Reatards' completely disaffected fuck-off-and-die attitude that littered all Pussy Galore releases has been absorbed to uncompromising effect on the 19 blasts of twin guitars subterfuge uncovered on "Teenage Hate." Lust-crazed, sex-starved hormones gone amok never sounded so sloppy, distorted and downright lewd all at once. Check out the demented crank-fueled cover of Fear's "I Love Living in the City," as lead screamer/guitar mauler Jay Reatard does his best adolescent Lee Ving impersonation. The dissonant dual guitar ambush of this bass-less trio thwacks you across the face like a stiff jab from Lobster Boy's deformed claw. Step right up, folks. The Reatards' freak show has just hit town.
--By Ron Bally
ROBERT LOCKWOOD JR.
I Got To Find Me A Woman
WE SHOULD ALL sound as good as this when we're 81 years old. Lockwood, whose main claim to fame is having been taught the blues by the legendary Robert Johnson, shares the spotlight with Joe Louis Walker and B. B. King, though his own axe-grinding is impressive enough to carry the disc without any guitarist guest stars. Considering how clearly he sings and how cleanly he plays at his age, could be that Johnson passed on to Lockwood that soul-selling devil connection he was known for. Whether de debil's claws are fingering the fretboard or not, the flawless, sparse guitar work like that found on "Feel Like Blowing My Horn" will getcha.
HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH
IMAGINE, FOR JUST one minute, that the last decade never happened. Now, recall some of the great guitar bands you were listening to circa '85-'88: R.E.M., Windbreakers, Green On Red, Dreams So Real, Zeitgeist/Reivers, Sidewinders...
Years before angst, imagined parental abuse and a crummy day serving up lattes translated into songwriting fodder for goobers with no discernible vocal skills, America was producing a wealth of groups that actually grasped the rock and roll tunesmith's imperative: melodic verse, harmony-strewn chorus, and a backbeat you definitely can't lose. That's the tradition Hootie slots into, and you owe it to yourself to absorb this album with ears untainted by the bleating anti-Hooties who prefer playing reactionary games to actually listening to music. Among the record's many highlights: "Home Again," with its gentle melody borrowed from "Leaving On A Jet Plane"; "I Will Wait," an uplifting look at secrets, lies, and how we learn to reaffirm fidelity, all set against an amazingly compelling jangly guitar/surging organ arrangement; and "Desert Mountain Showdown," a slice of twangy good-time with fiddle, dobro and mandolin, pure Sweetheart of the Rodeo stuff at that.
Speaking personally, I think I "got it" while watching Hootie on TV at this year's Farm Aid. They'd turned their "Let Her Cry" chestnut into the most soulful gospel anthem I'd heard in ages, and it made me feel great. Try humming along to the seething rage of, say, Korn or The Deftones; it can't be done. Hootie, then, is for folks who take a quiet, profound joy in being alive.
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