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November 8, 2004

CD Reviews - David Thomas, Demolition Doll Rods, The Hives, Rev. Horton Heat

By Kevin Hillskemper

David Thomas and Two Pale Boys
18 Monkeys on a Dead Mans Chest
Smog Veil Records

I fell asleep listening to this and had dreams about being on an arctic expedition. After much trudging through snow, it turned out that the whole party was stranded on an ice floe. I can’t tell you how it ended, but you know what usually happens in these situations. Eventually (after about 10 or 15 minutes), the topic of cannibalism will rear its ugly head. Don’t ask me how I know this – I’d rather not talk about it.
Here’s a history lesson:
David Thomas invented everything. In the 70’s, he was a founding member of Rocket From the Tombs and co-wrote future punk classics like “Sonic Reducer” and “Final Solution”. He formed the band Pere Ubu. He sometimes used the stage name “Crocus Behemoth”. If you don’t think that’s a cool name – I don’t like you.
“18 Monkeys on a Dead Man’s Chest” is pretty artsy stuff, but Thomas’s voice and highly developed sense of the absurd prevent it from becoming pretentious or high-falutin’. A word of caution - he is no Pavarotti. In fact, his singing is similar in pitch and resonance to the braying of a wounded yak.
I like this a lot. A few of the songs have almost blues-like structures. Riffs and melodies develop and seem to change slightly each time. The words seem to change too – what was that line about a trout farm? It wasn’t there last time.
Some of these songs could be rock songs if they wanted to be. There are no drums.
There’s even a nice acoustic ballad with a Theremin, or something that sounds like it. It could be a melodeon, or a musette (whatever that is).
The best song titles, but not necessarily the best songs, are “Brunswick Parking Lot” and “Nebraska Alcohol Abuse”.
It’s good to listen to at different volume levels while reading or driving in traffic. Wear wool socks and keep a fork in your pocket in case you fall asleep.

Check out The Day the Earth Met Rocket From the Tombs also on Smog Veil.


Demolition Doll Rods
Swami Records

How long have they been doing this? Ten years? I don’t know. If you do anything long enough, it becomes legitimate. Two chicks and one guy wearing skimpy little outfits and playing sleazy garage rock are now too legit – too legit to quit. This is good.
The Stooges and Dolls rip-offs are to be expected, but the blues-sounding stuff is becoming more predominant in their sound. Not like Johnny Lang or anything horrible like that, but more like Hound Dog Taylor by way of Jon Spencer.
It lacks the authenticity of a Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf record, but as far as I know – and I don’t claim to be any kind of blues scholar – Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf never performed in pasties and a G-string.

The Hives
Tyrannosaurus Hives

I liked this before I heard it. I like the song titles “Abra Cadaver”, “Walk Idiot Walk”, and “B is for Brutus”. The bass players name is “Dr. Matt Destruction”. I like that.
Listening to the CD, however, is an emotionally empty experience.

Reverend Horton Heat
Yep Roc Records

I believe the term “preaching to the choir” applies here. You’re either hip to the Reverend or your not. This is as good as anything he’s/they've done, maybe even better, but it’s the same old stuff. The guitar playing is top notch, but the bag of lyrics is getting stale. There are a couple of “serious” songs on here, but since they contradict the point I’m trying to make, I will choose to ignore them.
I think it’s time for The Reverend Horton Heat to make an instrumental album. The same goes for Brian Setzer and Deke Dickerson too. Don’t these guys know that they’re better guitarists than singer/songwriters? I’d rather hear a six-minute tuba solo than another dumb song about what a party animal you are.
Don’t they know that The Ventures are the best band ever?
Make an instrumental album. It will sell. Trust me. Give me a free copy and I will give it a rave review – even if it sucks. Twenty-three people will read the review and at least four people will buy it.

Posted by Big Kev at 8:33 PM