LIVING LEGENDS - Backwood Creatures (Stardumb)
It's official. I'm so far out of the loop that until The Barman shipped Backwood Creatures' "Living Legends" halfway around the world to yours truly here in Murder City, I never even knew Rotterdam's Stardumb Records lived and breathed, let alone boasted a roster including Groovie Ghoulies, The Apers (the cover of whose "The Buzz Electric" makes my knees tremble), Peawees, Retarded, and Sonic Dolls. If the rest of the catalogue measures up to "Living Legends," I may end up in debtors' prison.

Looks-wise, Backwood Creatures live up to their name, resembling nothing so much as the grown-up cousins of the inbred, banjo-picking cracker in "Deliverance," living it on the down-low but still dressing up in their Sunday-go-to-meetin' finest for the photo shoot. Hailing from the backwater town of Cologne, Germany (you know - out by the county line), these guys' first album, "Kings Of The Beach Boulevard," is trumpeted by their label is being right up there with the debuts of The Undertones, Buzzcocks, and Stiff Little Fingers. Before anyone gets carried away with hyperbole, it's probably best to let "Living Legends" have a little elbow room as the beer-swilling, pop-punk housewrecker it is.

From the minute the laser beam zaps whatever it is on CD's that produce sound, the twin guitars of Tommy Toilet and Nilz Nonchalant (yes, they all have dopey, old-school punk names) kick up a cloud of dust on "You Definitely Suck," with the leather-lunged perfection of Heini Heartbreaker grunting and groaning about some poor wart-on-the-ass-of-progress who was born in "Yousucksobadlyland." In theory it sounds corny as hell, but damned if these Teutons don't churn up a big fuss and make you wish you knew how to dance. "She's A WOW" and "Dance 'Til Dawn" careen dangerously out of control with bassist Leif Let's Go! (groan...) and drummer Tough Timo struggling mightily to keep up with the other three who sound like they're trying to catch a bus.

Never overextending their reach, Backwood Creatures have created a brainshaking, hook-filled, reason for living, joyously bashing out one punchy, buzzing backwash of wattage after another and whoa-whoa-whoa-ing their way right into your cerebral cortex. The nine-minute stretch that extends from "It's OK" to "At The Sonic Ballroom" to "Hipster Chick" is the real moment of truth, the band accomplishing more with volume and melody in that short span than a million major-label flavor-of-the-months could achieve in a lifetime.

To summarise - five greasy-looking badasses plus guitars, bass, amps and drums plus sense of purpose and fun minus pretension equals: 5 Martinis - Clark Paull