Monday, January 6, 2014

The Fleshtones “Wheel of Talent”

(Yep Roc) Seeing the Fleshtones last October on their Halloween tour was an eye re-opener. Challenging the Cramps for best garage revivalists of the original punk era, the Fleshtones have been reviving and updating the 60s for so long and so well and that they developed a sound too distinct to be linked to nostalgia or any particular era. However, at some point in the late 90s I saw them and maybe one of us was having a bad night, or maybe I mistook Peter Zaremba’s heavy lids for laziness, but I just wasn’t sold, and have been cooler on them then I should have been for over a decade. My bad! The band was positively electric last year, younger than young bands, groovier than any new act, and just plain powerful. I think it helped that they were promoting an album of silly, ridiculous Halloween music, which allowed them to cut loose. And I think had I not just spun that album continuously (after being won over by the live show) I might be more enthused about their latest solid offering. Not that there’s no silly here (monkey orgasm sounds on “Hipster Heaven” qualify), but this is mostly a more mature, feet on the ground take on Farfisa-fueled surf/garage/punk/R&B/pop. All the playing, singing, harmonies, and rocking out is great here, and I really enjoy this, I’m just such a sucker for novelty that I got spoiled by their monster material. Highlights include lovely guest vocals by Mary of Southern Culture on the Skids, a sincere, non-mawkish ode to the Ramones and both bands shared CBGBs days, and a grand, bombastic opening track about awesome availability. Extra points for attempting a Spanish language track, where they make the correct decision of not using a faux Mexican accent when shouting “allright!”

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