Reverberations: The Rippers, Thee Exciters and Brimstone Howl

Last week's Reverberations was eaten by the beast that was SXSW 2008. Which is a bummer, since I saw the Rippers play a fearsome set at the Mink on Saturday and very few of you were there. I know this because, until Uptown Bums – who played immediately before the Rippers – went on, it was me, my girlfriend, the bartender and the bands. Thereafter, we had a crowd of 14 to 20, depending on smoke breaks.

If you don’t know the Rippers, you need to. Seeing them live is like watching a derailed train slide toward you and your friends. That one will be a contender for Best Garage Show Of The Year, though it has some stiff competition coming up next week . . .

This week seems light on shows, so if anyone knows of any Rocking going on, post said Rocking in the comments. Personally, I advise spending Thursday night with a beer and Mutant Hardcore Flower Hour on KTRU starting at 10 p.m., then heading to Avant Garden on Tuesday for Rock and Roll Industry Night. Previously a Monday night event, last week it moved to Tuesdays, and the man behind the music remains the same: Psychedelic Sex Panther, denizen of Boondocks’ monthly Reverberation night, will be playing all sorts of ear splitting righteousness. And no, we didn't steal the name. Though, we should have, were we clever enough. It was a subliminal pilfering at best, and far too boring to try and explain. Besides, great minds think alike. Right? Whatever. These days, $2 wells will buy you a lot of temporary peace, love and understanding.

Also, a couple of album reviews for the week:

Thee Exciters, Spending Cash, Talking Trash (Dirty Water Records)

Were Thee Exciters to be stuck in their current mode for the rest of the band's life, they'd still whip the shit out of at least 70 percent of the garage bands working today. It's a lot like someone threw the Chocolate Watch Band in a room with the Stooges and Stiff Little Fingers (note the "Suspect Device" nod at the beginning of "Johnny’s Too Messed Up") with a case of whiskey and a sack of cocaine, then shut off the lights.

The grooves are tight and thick, and you'll probably never find better evidence to crown Southampton as "The new Detroit" (as claimed in a picture in the album’ s liner notes). Justin Cunningham's guitar is layered without hurting the recording’s grit, while vocalist Paul LeBrock comes from the same blues steeped lineage as Jack White. The rhythm section of Richey Walker and Alex Tapps, on drums and bass respectively, are like titanium cogs and recall a rhythm section like Jerome Arnold and Sam Lay on the second Paul Butterfield Blues Band album.

Bottom line is that LeBrock and Cunningham could so anything they want over the rhythm guys and no one would miss a beat. From the fuzz workouts ("Pretty, Elegant and Neat," "Mummies Little Boy," "Why Can't You See?") to the blues numbers ("Bringing Me Down," Things Ain’t Right") and the nasty punk ("Jacob’s Gutter," "Out of My Hands" and the title track), if Thee Exciters ever miss their mark, it's never by much.

(The second half of the 26 track disc contains the band’s entire live set from the tenth anniversary weekend of the Dirty Water Club, which means you get live versions of all Spending Cash tracks, excluding "Bringing Me Down" and "Two Dollar Bill," which are left out in favor of EP cuts "Queen of the Scene" and "With You."

Brimstone Howl, Guts of Steel (Alive NaturalSound Records)

A quartet from Lincoln, Nebraska, Brimstone Howl is more than just a "garage rock" band; they’re trying to write songs with some emotional weight. And if you consider that a party foul, you probably don’t deserve them anyway.

Album opener and Soledad-style rave up "Bad Seed" is immediately followed by the doom laden crescendo called "In the Valley," a respectable homage to mid period Nick Cave.

Much of the album stays close to the aforementioned Soledad Brothers garage blues, but with plenty of spooky, mid western tension to temper the Stones overtones, while a cow punk track like "Heart Attack" will give you something extra to gnaw on while you spend the rest of the album pondering the reasons why the Strokes never got any better than "Is This It?"

The one big flaw: "Six and Seven," which lumbers along and is finally crushed under its own weight, but is forgotten by the end of "Cyclone Boy" which – with a sheen of vinyl crackle – would sound like a buried treasure from the late 60s. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with the album’s final third, it does seem to end with a fizzle instead of the explosion you keep expecting.

No matter: If straightforward and good rock music isn't enough to warrant the purchase, feel free to promptly surrender your Hipster Badge to producer Dan Auerbach, who helped create what is easily of my favorite debut records in recent memory. – Chris Henderson



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