Thursday, May 1, 2008

CD Review: Plastic Fang

1) Sweet N Sour
2) She Said
3) Money Rock'n'Roll
4) Killer Wolf
5) The Midnight Creep
6) Hold On
7) Down in the Beast
8) Shakin' Rock'n'Roll Tonight
9) Over and Over
10) Mother Nature
11) Mean Heart
12) Point of View
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays, as the name implies, the blues. However, theirs is a very different kind of blues, one that sounds quite different from the smoky simplicity of John Lee Hooker, and nowhere near the jazzy brand of Tony Bennett. Picture a style that's somewhere between Led Zeppelin and the White Stripes, with a pinch of Elvis.
And unlike any of those artists, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion made a rock opera about a werewolf. Plastic Fang has plenty of riffs, jamming, and rocking, a demonstration of the band's eclectic array of influences. Between the fun concept and the groovy songs, I immensely enjoyed this album.
"Hold On" begins with Spencer shouting like a preacher before his and Judah Bauer's guitars kick in with another killer riff. The track, like many of them, sounds simultaneously classic and modern, blending the influence of famed jam bands with the raw energy of a three-piece garage band. The guys immediately follow this with "Down in the Beast", with a performance that more prominently echoes the influence of great blues men - this one reminds me a little of Howlin' Wolf.
The definitive track of the album is "She Said", one of the funkier numbers that showcases all the great things about the disc: fun songs, a tight band, dynamic vocals, and an entertaining style. Not to mention lyrics like these...

now the villagers are comin'/with (uh) pitchforks and screamin dogs/I got long black hair growin'/way outta the back of my skull
The album will please fans of all different kinds of rock - the pioneering bluesy work of Elvis, the jamming of Woodstock acts, the freshness of today's garage rockers. Also, it's a rock opera about a werewolf. Come on.
***** out of five

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