THE MUGGS – “On With The Show” CD ’08 (Private, US) – Damn it, I shoulda paid attention! I knew Mrs. Bernard was right! Mrs. Bernard was my 5th grade teacher. She is no longer with us, God rest her soul, as I heard of her demise a few years ago in a local news article about the soup company she (post teaching career) and her son had run. She was a hard-ass, she screamed & yelled and scared the living shit out of every one of us piss-ass 5th graders but damn if she wasn’t right. If there was something she said 1000 times, it was “Pay attention!” “PAY ATTENTION!!!” But did I? No. Last year, a guy I should listen to, a guy who knows music told me his favourite disc of the year was “On With The Show” by THE MUGGS. This was not just some fluke who came & went but a dude who’s listening was known to include ’70’s hard rock hierarchy like Marcus, Target, Poobah, etc. But I basically blew him off! Why? Who friggin’ knows, maybe I thought the band name was silly, but I should know better than that, right? Anyway, all the sudden not long ago, an email shows up in the ol’ Realm-box saying “THE MUGGS have added you as a friend on Myspace.” Hmm…wasn’t that the band…yeah, yeah…and I jotted ‘em a note. Sure enough a few days later, this piece of plastic by Detroit’s self-proclaimed “ugliest band in the world” came sliding into my mailbox and…well, let’s just say it hasn’t left the player since.
I could do a lot of things right now, and I’ll touch on several of them. I could begin by saying the intro to opening cut “Motown Blues” sounds like something off Cactus’ ’71 masterpiece “One Way Or Another.” I could continue by saying that when the band kicks in on this song, the results are right up there with anything ever plastered by Day-McCarty-Bogert-&-Appice. Of course, I could touch on the fact that the guitar solo in this number alone has elevated Danny Methric to godlike status in my eyes already. I might add that the next song, “Slow Curve” is even better. Grand Funk? Never heard of ‘em! Rockkicks? Who? James Gang? Joe Who, who was their guitarist? This shit’ll make you start asking those kind of questions, that’s the kind of ass it kicks. I could do a lot more things but the only one that I should do is take you by the hand, help you get your credit card out & direct you to the sites below. And we haven’t even gotten to the middle-eastern guitar intro to the title song, sliding into the prime Status Quo boogie to follow, the tear-your-heart-out-gorgeous lament of “Curbside Constellation Blues” or the seething, paint-scraping “Never Know Why.” The real point is that everywhere they touch on this disc, Methric, Tony DeNardo (Rhodes bass) & Matt Rost (drums) serve up a mega-watt dollup of bluesed-out, raw and heavy RAWK that will pin your eyelids back, make your eardrums history, rip the soul from your gut and ask questions later. Listen closely, my friends: Had this record been issued in 1972, it could have been in that year’s Top 10. In 1972!!! If your record collection includes Stepson, Diamond Reo (not the country band, asswipe!) or early ZZ Top, this will sidle up nicely alongside each. If it doesn’t, it will instantly become the best disc you own. The choice is your’s to act, so don't let me say it again... PAY ATTENTION!
ATOMIC WORKERS – “Third Disaster” CD ’09 (Nasoni, Ita) – “Third Disaster?” Hmmm...I wasn’t even aware that these guys had one disaster, let alone 2 and much less 3 until I received this disc in the mail courtesy of my buddy Mass at Black Widow Records. And, to be perfectly honest, this one here is not what I’d call a disaster anyway. With the bio I read referencing a lot of words like “psych,” “freak-out,” etc. I was a little surprised by the directness of the first cut, “Secret Way To The Valley.” With mid-paced Sabbath-y chords borne on a “Sabbath, Bloody…” production style, there’s a serious metal quotient here, with vocals that kinda remind me of Scott Hill with an Italian accent. The title cut then continues things in a similar style until a minute or so from the end of it’s 6-odd minutes when the electronic gurgling (present in small part in the opener) makes itself a little more known and a spacey feel creeps in. From that point on, these workers begin to ply a wider path. “You” starts aggressively yet contains, yes, a several minute psych guitar freak-out that will have you donning your tie-dies & lighting some patchouli. “Here’s Where I Belong” could be a lost early Traffic cut, with it’s jazzy vibe & “Home” will bring you all the backward-tracked fun of a cross between a deep “Electric Ladyland” jam and Country Joe. That’s not to say that A.W. forget how to rock after the first couple cuts, though, as “Lost Pleasure” rips with a verve almost up there with the ol’ Stooges. In all, “Third Disaster” is a worthy record to check out for those who like to derail from the “norm” and it makes me want to explore their back-catalog. A Decent Work-Out
ANTONIUS REX – “Per Viam” CD ’09 (Black Widow, Ita) – Anyone who ever read my old printed fanzine, CHAOS (ok, let’s see…what else was it called? Hmm…METAL MAELSTROM, ENLIGHTENED CHAOS, CHAOS REALM…) will know of my love of Italy’s Paul Chain. Now I know what you’re thinking: Ray is now admitting to having an extra-marital affair with some Italian guy. No, that’s not it. I’m perfectly happy with my wife, I’m not swinging both ways, none of that. No, what I mean is that I have always really dug the dark, textural music of Mr. Chain and his ability to bring the most bone-shattering doom metal as well as ambient analog keys…and sometimes both at the same time. Well, that’s the vibe that this new offering from ANTONIUS REX brought me. In actuality, this music has it’s genesis much farther back than Mr. Chain, as A.R. main man Antonio Bartoccetti had his origins with Jacula in 1969. He was joined by Doris Norton (Fiamma Della Spirito) (who is also his wife) and the 2 went on, after 2 Jacula releases, to form ANTONIUS REX. Antonio & Doris (with others in tow) have produced 4 or 5 releases under the A.R. name and ol’ dummy Ray has chosen to ignore them until lately. Whether or not I’m a jackass for this negligence or just overworked & overly tired is debatable. The real question, however, is that if you like music that is dark, dense and would make most death metal fans (of which I’m one) run screaming to their mommies, why are you listening to me babble and not ordering this scary circular sliver from Black Widow right now. I could sit here and have verbal diarrhea about the blackened fields of bizarre keys, the otherworldly vox of Doris or Bartoccetti’s Iommi-like sludge riffs & seemingly endless solos. But that would be silly, wouldn’t it? If you’re not afraid, let your fingers do the walking. Seven Screaming Diz-Busters