THE URGENCIES PRESENT THEIR MANIFESTO – The Urgencies (Kritics Choice)
Perhaps my view of our historic state’s capital, Austin, is jaundiced by my visits there (up until five years or so, at least) always being timed around SXSW, but in my mind’s eye, 6th Street (the local rawk club ghetto there) seems like some kinda Church of Rockaroll Dissolution, where black hair dye, black denims, black T-shirts, and spider web tattoos are the uniform and St. Johnny Genzale is the patron saint.
The Urgencies are living proof for the case. They’ve been together since 2004 with shifting lineups. The immutable elements appear to be frontman Al G and bassist Maria De La Fantasy. My pal Jeremy Diaz AKA Jesus De La Cruz -- a Fort Worth cat whose CV includes stints in the Riverboat Gamblers, Dead Sexy, A Capital Affair, This Damn Town, and currently drone-psych monsters The Strange Attractors -- played guitar for the Urgencies long enough to be credited on this CD under the pseudonym Sancho De La Fantasy. He’s since been supplanted by one J.T. Trash, but was still gentleman enough to pull my coat to this release, and he gets in some nasty, RON-on-the-first-Stooges-LP licks on “359,” “Method to My Madness” and “What Doesn’t Kill Me.”
Most valuable player for this sesh, however, is drummer Pat E. Cakes, whose flashy-yet-precise crash ‘n’ thump gives the proceedings a lift at every turn.On the surface, the Urgencies come across like some outfit that should’ve been in the Vicious Kitten Records stable a few years back. The proximate models are the usual Noo Yawk ones (N.Y. Dolls, Dead Boys), but underneath, there’s a sizable debt to the ‘80s Sunset Strip crews (Hanoi Rocks, L.A. Guns) that culminated in the apotheosis of Guns ‘N’ Roses, as well as random bits of glam (dig “Unshamed”’s twisted Chinnichap take on Spectorsound) and even Thin Lizzy (check Al G’s voxxx on the opening “359”). Why, there’s even a Lords of the New Church cover here! “What doesn’t kill me makes me crazier,” indeed.
Al G’s songwriting is strong enough to transcend all comparisons, though, and at their best -- on flag-waving anthems like the title track, “We Are the News,” and inspirational-title-o’-the-month “Phone Sex for Cigarettes” -- the Urgencies make noises that are distinctive enough to garner mass-ass acceptance, were such a thing possible for a real 2008 rock ‘n’ roll band in these United States.
Kudos to producer Chris “Frenchie” Burke (Meat Puppets, Built To Spill) for capturing this lightning in a bottle. - Ken Shimamoto
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