WOODOO - John Woo (Fog Records)
With their name apparently meant as some sort of tribute to the great director of celluloid mayhem, I initially had the guys in John Woo pegged as Japanese. Nope, these guys are from Italy (although in "Compleanno Pop Svedese" they sing "We are the John Woo Balls Explosion, a new ass-kickin' Swedish garage band" - Confused? Me too!), but if Japan's Toho Studios ever decides to resurrect the Godzilla or Gamera franchise, John Woo's instro madness would be he perfect background music for a guy in a rubber suit stomping the shit out of a bunch of minature sets and toy tanks and menacing Japanese school kids.

For now, background info on John Woo shall remain a mystery since all I could dig up on them was in Italian. Despite being half Italian, I can barely order spaghetti in an Italian restaurant, so I usually just point at the menu. But I digress...

At full tilt, "Woodoo's" menacing brand of primal surfing and spying tunes delivers the goods with a mission, not to mention evil intent, earning them a rightful place in an already crowded genre alongside the likes of Los Straitjackets, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (R.I.P.), Laika & The Cosmonauts, Teisco Del Rey, and Huevos Rancheros. That's the good news...

The bad news or, depending on your sense of humor, more good news, is that several of "Woodoo's" songs feature vocals. While those sung in Italian are easy enough to deal with since no one knows what the hell they're on about anyway, the English translation thing hampers the rest, to wit:

"Tell to your papa/I wanna kill you like a boa/I'm gonna drive that car very fast/I'm gonna crash that toy"

"Alien people are gonna eat your guts on/Alien blobs are landing in your backyard/They are arriving/I was fuckin' in my sister bedroom"

and my personal favorite:

"When you're sitting there/I am smoking, friend/a super joint filled of blue marihuana/A fuckin' joint, man/in my cisting room, yeah!/I love my pusher from Mars" ("John Woo")

Umm, try again guys.

To their credit, John Woo manage to rise above their woeful grasp of linguistics by knuckling down with a boisterous conviction and mixing equal parts Ventures, Bernard Hermann film scores, and good old-fashioned punk clatter. Now if they'd just trade in those microphones for another reverb unit...
- Clark Paul