Sunday, 4 November 2007

Review: New Jack Rubys - Death To The Weird

The New Jack Rubys' debut LP is a strong, yet eclectic, beginning. The band is named for Lee Harvey Oswald's killer (which makes me curious as to who they believe to be the new Lee Harvey Oswald) and this, along with the album title, Death To The Weird, lays the groundwork for a doom-laden heavy rock affair.

The opening track, the eponymous 'Death To The Weird' is unashamed desert rock, from the slightly corny, slightly ambiguous lyrics ('The banshee screams for buffalo meat') to the surprisingly melodic chorus which is reminiscent of some of Josh Homme's best work.

The title track sets a strong pace for the album, a pace picked up by 'Miss Teen USA'. The spirits of long forgotten punks are somewhat-ironically evoked in a sleaze-ridden 3 minutes. The New Jack Rubys clean up the act for the slower 'Silver Tongue', which drops the faux-punk act to return to the favoured stoner rock genre. While 'Silver Tongue' drops the ball a bit lyrically, the grinding guitar solo towards the end of the track drags it kicking and screaming across the line (not to mention some sweet harmonica action). Simple yet effective.

'Warship Colossus & Me' is next, and here the band takes a stab at imitating Black Sabbath. They do well until the chorus kicks in and things get a lot too Wolfmother-y. The manage to salvage the shipwreck with a grimy brass section and some face melting guitar work.

The appropriately titled 'Speed Queen' puts Death To The Weird back on track. Moving and at a breakneck pace and kicking off with a couplet as irreverent as 'I'm hunting for white goods babe/You wanna get out of my way', 'Speed Queen' sets the stage for a run of the album's three best tracks. The final minute of the song which begins with a key change and ends with a screaming thrall of dirty noise is the aural equivalent of a molotov cocktail being thrown at your face. Its only fitting that the next track is the ominous 'Tesla Coil'. Only a fool would not think of Nick Cave on first hearing this song, but to say that the New Jack Rubys are simply aping Cave on this track would be entirely unwarranted. An organ plucked straight out of hell drives the song along, with cryptic lyrics ('The dead can laugh 'cause they are well fed/At least thats what the dead man said.') making the song even more frightening. The upbeat 'Swallow My Pride' switches things around with its 60's garage rock sound and a chorus that for some reason reminds me of Robbie Williams (no, really, thats not such a bad thing).

'Eight Ball' is a slow starter, but its fuzzy psychedelia (though i'm not sure that I know any gurus or mystics that would recommend actually using a magic eight ball) eventually pulls through and results in a cloudy chorus (we're talking good clouds, like rain clouds after a decade of drought) which would almost be at home in a shoegaze or post-rock bands repertoire. 'Roaming Eye' brings back the reliable heavy rock riffs that the band seems to favour. 'Roaming Eye' showcases the New Jack Rubys penchant for the morbid and bizarre, and it appears to be a anthem to the AWACS plane(thus winning my prize for most unique song topic of the year).

'I Am Big Time' is the closing track, and a track that (I hope) contains four tongues fully in cheek. The lyrics are boiling over with self-importance ('Come on and sign/I am big time.'), but I'd like to think that it is reference to the song itself. 'I Am Big Time' contains a chorus that is musically bigger then Ben Hur/Titanic/Lord Of The Rings. A perfect end to an impressive debut album.

If you'd like a second opinion then check out these live recordings, courtesy of our reliable bootlegger Brendan.

New Jack Rubys - Speed Queen (Live At The Troubadour)

New Jack Rubys - Tesla Coil (Live At The Troubadour)

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