Subsonics - In the Black Spot (Slovenly Records)
(SLICE OF LIFE part of the review)
I'm going to save a lot of you a lot of reading time. Subsonics’ In The Black Spot is my album of the year. Period. So, if you’re easily impressed, it shouldn't take you more than that to go buy this album.
For you jaded hipsters, listen to this: The Black Lips, YOUR favorite band, said that Subsonics are the BEST band in Atlanta. So, again, it shouldn't take you more than that to buy this album, right?
For the rest of the readers that have a longer attention spam (DAMN YOU), let's talk, shall we? First of all, this is Subsonics’ first album in seven years!!! You don't release anything after seven years unless it's an amazing record. That's one of the first signs of a great album, in my opinion. Here are three simple questions I ask myself when I’m wondering, is this a good album?
1 - Is it the band’s first album in seven years? And if so, does it rock? Well, yes it is! And it does, indeed, rock.
2 - Can I stop listening to this album? I (being the listener) CAN'T STOP listening to it.
3 - Can I change the mind of someone who doesn't like this album, by making him (violently or not) listen to this album? True story: I was sitting in my living room with a friend, minding my own business, talking about ''rock n roll'' and ''music'' and maybe ''drinking''. I said to this person in the room (for the purpose of this essay, let's call him ''a friend''), ''Have you heard the new Subsonics album? It's great.” The friend said, ''Bah! Subsonics! Never really liked them.'' (I'd like to point out that the ''friend'' in this story is well over 45 years old, listened to punk and rock n roll all of his life, and NEVER CHANGED HIS OPINION ABOUT ANYTHING...what an asshole, really). ''Well,'' I told him, “let's give it a listen, shall we?” And then I put on the record. And guess what? He loved it! Here are his exact words: ''I'm always looking for a great mid-tempo rock n roll album, and this, my friend, is a great mid-tempo rock n roll album''. And he bought it.
If your answers to those questions are YES, NO, YES, then, my friend, you have a GREAT musical artifact in your hand. (Granted, this only works with bands that release albums every seven years).
(REVIEW part of the review)
First things first: the album cover. Love the colors: purple and black. Love Clay’s (singer/guitar) hair. Love the fact that Buffi (drum/back vox) seems to have tons of hair and just one eye. Not sure about Rob (bass) though...is he playing bass with his fingers or a pick? Bass players playing with their fingers make me feel uneasy...
Next is the actual music. I'm a big fan of the early New York punk scene in the 70's, especially because of its diversity. You had the likes of The Ramones, The New York Dolls, Television, The Dictators and Suicide, all sounding different and all sharing the same stages. And when I listen to Subsonics, I can totally picture them sharing the stage with these bands. They sound like a bunch of twenty-something weirdos who listened to 50's rock n roll, 60's garage, went to the first couple of Velvet Underground shows and decided to do that crazy thing called punk, too.
Picture a singer with an androgynous voice (think Lou Reed or Atlanta's Marc Bolan), backed up by a Mo Tucker drumming style, part Bo Diddley-like guitar and some good steady bass playing, playing some mean rock n roll, sounding like a meaner version of The Modern Lovers.
Even though they’re from Atlanta, Subsonics recorded In The Black Spot in New York with Matt Verta-Ray (of Speedball Baby and Heavy Trash). I would also like to note the participation on the album of one Johnny ''Vendetta'' Vignault, an excellent guitar player who played with Subsonics’ drummer Buffi in Atlanta's The Vendettas and also in New York super group The Lost Crusaders, who included in their ranks people like Chandler from The Raunch Hands, Matt Verta-Ray, Jon Spencer and, surprise, Subsonics' own drummer, Buffi. You should also check out Buffi’s great other band, Tiger! Tiger!
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