NAGG – Nagg (Dollar Record Records)
On Nagg’s eponymous debut, Amy Ward’s pout and shout snarls its way into your heart, into your britches, and straight into the family tree of no-nonsense, caterwauling hellcats like (in chronological order) Suzi Quatro, Joan Jett, Kim Shattuck of The Muffs, and the Paybacks’ Wendy Case. No big surprise then to learn she doubles as “Bonny Scott” in the Y chromosome-free AC/Dshe.
As much of a sucker as I am for a woman who even comes close to owning pipes like any of the above, it’s the band’s wistful embrace of glam classicism, suitable for a really good U.S. radio station circa 1973 or 1974, which make Nagg lords of all they survey. Freeze packed some 30 years ago, Greg Fenwick and Brian Krepshaw are a surly, brain-fry bongload of resinous, saw-toothed guitars that spill forth from a deep well of glamdrogynous homesteaders like Mick Ronson, Andy Scott, Dave Hill, and Len
A cover of Chinn/Chapman’s “She’s In Love With You” gallops and surges like the cavalry on its way across the plains to save settlers from marauding Native Americans looking for souvenirs, J.T. Turner struggling to steer a bass as big as a Mini Cooper clear of drummer Scott Baldwin’s rolling thunder. Call it a hunch, but something tells me Nagg would sound like something approaching the Big Rock Candy Mountain live. While shit-housed on cheap suds of course. Blatz or Pabst’s Blue Ribbon most likely.
A quick peek at the songwriting credits may reveal a slight dearth of original material, but Nagg have great taste in covers, having a go at everyone from Slade to The Cynics to Artful Dodger (the old-school Cleveland power pop underachievers, not the UK outfit) to Liverpool Express to Jody Reynolds to Johnny Burnette, throwing the kitchen sink at the wall to see what will stick.
Ward’s open-throttle rasp makes my liver quiver and my bladder splatter, completely blowing my already shattered mind, more than reason enough for local law enforcement to require that she carry a concealed weapon permit. Swaggering discontent is a beautiful thing, especially when it sounds like two alley cats locked in coitus under a full moon, dodging cooking utensils, alarm clocks, and a bucket of water.
Not that Dollar Record would likely stand for it, but it’s heartening that despite hailing from California, Nagg haven’t surrendered to any Topanga Canyon hippie vibe, preferring to rattle brain boxes with a bare bones, no frills celebration of the redemptive properties of the rawk rather than strum guitars they can’t afford whilst intoning songs all about Themselves and how They feel about events affecting Them in Their lives. This is music from the crotch, not the cranium. And it sounds pretty fucking great. - Clark Paull
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