IN PRAISE OF - The Heatseekers (Ohev Records)
After my first and probably last trip to Florida, I was ready to give up on the place. More theme parks than you can point a camera at, (bad) fast food, wall-to-wall malls and stormfronts like clockwork - and that was all just within the confines of the hotel. Plus, those jokes The Darkness were staying in the same pub - four guys dressed like Barbara Eden in "I Dream of Jeannie" and we weren't even in Cocoa Beach.
Wasn't Florida the place that drove two New York Dolls to distraction? OK, it was probably smack rather than terminal boredom that sparked a departure to New York City for Nigs and Johnny, thus bringing down the curtain on that band's initial life, but why let facts stand in the way of a P.J. O'Rourke-styled xeonophobic rant? Mind you, most Americans I know loathe the place, so I probably arrived there with a predisposition. I know I left with a bad taste in my mouth. From an overly-fruity Margarita. And fuck those umbrella things for a joke. But then I heard The Heatseekers from Coral Springs, Florida, and if my life wasn't irrevocably changed, it did put me in a more favourable frame of mind.
So let's cut to the chase - this is a hit-and-run album from a twin-guitar band. There's no stuffing around, with four of the 10 songs clocking at 1min30sec or less. The occasional instrumental track peppers the assault, which lasts less than 22 minutes all-up. So the title "album" is a bit of a misnomer.
But brevity is often a virtue and there's always the "repeat" button if you missed some catchy hook or slice of lyrical wisdom, the first time through.The opening title track is a bit of a sound check, but once those levels are right and everyone's in tune, the subsequent nine cuts rock like a motherfucker - and not in an overblown way.
Singer-guitarist Ryan Weinstein has a touch of the Jello Biafras in his quavering vocal delivery but, unlike the helium-sucking former Dead Kennedy, he doesn't wear out his welcome. (Actually, he probably has as he's left the band - 'though he still retains a presence on their website, so the split must have been amicable. Time Waits for No-One and this album was recorded two years ago.) Dunno how the new guy sounds but hopefully the change of personnel hasn't upset the equilibrium.
There's a compressed '80s garage feel to the guitars and the occasional "woo-woo" backing vox lend a '60s feel (cf. the really fab "New (Old) Sound"). It's played as tight as a fish's, so this is a band whose members clearly knows each other well.
If sloppy is a pre-requisite, maybe you should best avoid them. The drummer is "Chuck Loose", in name only. But for the rest of you, this will probably be pretty cool stuff, in a Woggles or Swingin' Neckbreakers sort of way. A little bit of dirt under the fingernails, and lots of sweat.
One track, "Brand New Year", sounds like a "One Track Mind" cop (the liners tell me it's actually a Stun Guns cover), so if you like your Heartbreakers with a frenzied Nuggets flavour, you're in the right place.
In short, and just like most of the songs, "In Praise Of" is a lot of fun. Don't judge this book by its unimposing cover.
Just heard The Heatseekers made the finals of Little Steven's Underground Garage Band contest. Eventual winners Muck and the Mires must have been hot, or the judges had muck in their ears.
Up until now, Rock Action (aka Scott Asheton) and Kevin K have been the most notable Florida residents on my radar. Guess they must hang out with The Heatseakers in some punk rock theme park. Now there's an idea for a developer. - The Barman
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