Thursday, October 15, 2009

House of Broken Promises - Using the Useless

House of Broken Promises
Using the Useless
Small Stone

Featuring guitarist/producer Arthur Seay, who notably slung his ax in John Garcia’s Unida, House of Broken Promises lays down the beer-basted bombast with barely baked boogie fever on Using the Useless. As one might expect from a band with connections to the desert rock camp, HoBP has some Kyuss groove in its gas tank, gurgling with rolling thunder. But the trio knows the value of a big-ass hook and the virtues of slashing what you’ve got to say then shutting up. Tunes like Torn, Highway Grit and Obey the Snake roll on riffs and rage rather than on jamming; Walk On By even has a singalong chorus. Bassist Eddie Plascencia is no Garcia (who is?), but he makes up in power what he lacks in finesse, and the rest of the combo roars right along with him. Using the Useless is no-bullshit hard rock, as fresh and classic as a brand-new Les Paul.

- Michael Toland

The Shimmys - Brunettes On the Rocks

The Shimmys
Brunettes On the Rocks
Off the Hip

Armed with striped shirts, cheap instruments, miniskirts and the Nuggets albums, Australia’s Shimmys bash and crash their way into the hardest heart with Brunettes On the Rocks. The distaff trio (or co-ed quintet, if you count the auxiliary members on organ and lead guitar) embody the tough-but-cute chick syndrome with sweet smiles, grungy riffs and snarling singalongs – cf. Thanks For Nothing, Don’t Give Me Lip (no, ma’am!) and Walkin’ Out On You. And while I’m not sure what My Fastback and Two Pot Screamer are about, I’m sure it has something to do with sex, sin or rejection of guff. The band also attempts to put its stamp on other folks’ songs, with mixed results: the Small FacesWhatcha Gonna Do About It bops along with perfect joie de verve, the SonicsPsycho zooms by in an almost ephemeral blur, Roky Erickson’s Don’t Slander Me tumbles into anemia - a not uncommon occurrence when it comes to covers of Erickson songs, so no harm/no foul. The Shimmys’ strengths lie with their own tunes, and they’re happy to play kittens with whips in your living room, leaving lipstick on every collar in the process.

- Michael Toland
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