Some might call Atlanta’s Subsonics long-suffering. But while it’s true the trio has labored in relative obscurity for more than a decade, even going on a five-year recording hiatus (their previous album, Follow Me Down, appeared in 1998 on Get Hip), there’s no denying their pioneer status relative to the current rockisback! revival. Like a glammy, garagey marriage among Lou Reed, Jack White and Jon Spencer (hey, might as well make it a triple gay wedding since those unions are still illegal, right?), the Subsonics now resume with the good ol’ Southern trash-crash-wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.
Highlights include “Stars,” a garage-cum-surf rave-up featuring some terrifically retro papa-oom-mow-mow vocals; “I Will Walk Alone,” a twisted ’50s-style ballad reconfigured for the Now Generation; “A Blues You Oughta Get Used To,” which shakes, shudders and shimmies like Patti Smith warming up a club crowd with her version of Uncle Lou’s “Real Good Time Together”; and “I Can’t Get Out,” an explosive slice of punkabilly destined for some future Nuggets box of long-lost 21st century classics. Throughout, charismatic singer/guitarist Clay Reed warbles in a feyer-than-fey voice that suggests Buddy Holly on helium (if that image is too horrifying substitute Marc Bolan for Buddy), lending the Subsonics a highly distinctive sonic footprint. Which, methinks, is more than most of the Class of 2003 can claim.
Fred Mills writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].