by Fred Mills
Three Times Infinity
Cincy band the Greenhornes are currently being hotly tipped as one of 2003’s rockisback! combos to watch for. Indeed, their third album offers enough fuzztone-induced psychotic reactions, swivel-hipped love-in moves and snot-nosed teenage rama-lama to float a tanker’s worth of Nuggets box sets. Right from outset the fuse is lit: “Satisfy My Mind,” all clanging Who-styled power chords and defiantly snotty vocals, is a teenage manifesto par excellence. The band doesn’t let up, either. In short succession, you get “The Way It’s Meant To Be” (a klassic Kinks rip-off, circa “Where Have All The Good Times Gone”), “Three Faint Calls” (minor-chord guitars and baroque keyboards in a moody Yardbirds vein) and “Hard Times” (pure Sunset Strip-era Standells or latter-day Cynics). And that’s just in the first 20 minutes. Namechecks and retro nods aside, this outfit rocks with a nonchalant brilliance, never trying to, um, stroke you or give you the hives — or otherwise impress you — with hair styles, haberdashery or hanging out with celebs.
Back home in the Motor City, garage trailblazers the Hentchmen have returned after a short layoff for elpee numero five. Per Detroit protocol, Jim Diamond recorded the platter at Ghetto, so the TMOQ (trademark of quality) is upon ’em from the git-go. You get some seriously ace skankin’ rama-lama as “Straight Up.” (Think Mitch Ryder goes to Jamaica and teaches the rastas how to boogie, not the other way around.) Not to mention a harp-honkin’ slice of Yardbirds boogie, “Broke Down,” which, fascinatingly, has as its sly-winking older sibling here an equally boogla-rizing cover of Big Joe Turner’s “Teenage Letter.” And the over-the-top version of Devo rarity “Shimmy Shake” that the boys from Akron used to do live to get the ladies in the audience all “worked up” over those radiation outfits (sample lyric: “Nothing’s gonna stop me from getting in your pants girl/ Aw yeah/ And nothing’s gonna stop me from making romance girl …”), as rendered Hentch style, keenly illuminates Devo’s true garage roots while demonstrating the trio’s broad-ranging good musical taste.
Taken back-to-back, these discs help put the lie to the knee-jerk observation that the current rock revival was doomed once Rolling Stone loaded up the bandwagon; it’s unlikely that any of this stuff has the requisite radio gloss necessary to charm Clear Channel programmers, but there’s enough vim, vigor, vitality and, um, Vitalis in these here grooves to keep the wheels of rock ’n’ roll progress greased and rolling.
E-mail Fred Mills at email@example.com.