A DIFFERENT KIND OF UGLY – The Sons of Hercules (Saustex Media)
First things first: I love this fuckin’ band. Texas garage-punk gets no better ‘n this. Their pedigree is impeccable.

Towering singer Frank Pugliese fronted San Antonio’s Vamps back when they opened for the Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo. He convened the Sons with guitarist Dale Hollon in the early ‘90s. Dale’s guitar foil, Elfin Beantown wiseguy Dave Bone, saw Little Richard and the Beatles live as a youngster, thanks to indulgent relatives, and was briefly a Real Kid before decamping to Texas. The ace engine room of tub-thumper Kory Cook and my Lawn Guyland homeboy Casino El Camino on bass was in place from the early Oughties. Casino plays on seven out of 12 tracks on "A Different Kind of Ugly"; since then, he’s left the band and was replaced by Jeff Linton.

The Sons’ music careens like an out-of-control locomotive in the manner of the punk generation that still remembered the Brit Invasion’s R&B roots and pop sensibility, before hardcore upped the ante tempo and aggression-wise. Several of the songs feature anthemic singalong choruses – dig “Brain Dead,” with dual-guitar damage worthy of the Flamingo-era Flamin’ Groovies, or “Too Much Fun,” which recycles riffs from “Shakin’ All Over” and “Stepping Stone” but takes ‘em to a whole ‘nother place -- and Dale isn’t above injecting a little Byrdsian 12-string jangle into the proceedings (as he does on “Your Salvation”).

It’s fitting and proper that the Sons should cover the Saints’ “Misunderstood” and the Lazy Cowgirls’ “Rock of Gibraltar” here, because Frank’s snarl has always had something of Chris Bailey in it (although you need to see Frank working himself into an onstage frenzy, his face contorted like a pissed-off cigar store Indian, to get the full effect), and he’s the same kind of meat ‘n’ potatoes frontguy as Pat Todd is, sans standup singer star-trip. (In fact, listening to this rekkid makes me nostalgic to hear the Cowgirls’ live "Here and Now".) Chris “Frenchie” Smith got a great sound in the studio, and overall – songwriting, performance, and energy-wise – this is the Sons’ finest outing yet.

If they toured, they’d have a rep as solid as, say, the Dictators’. Dig ‘em. - Ken Shimamoto


 

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