Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Oblivians Desperation & Show # 462

It has been 16 years since Memphis trio The Oblivians have released an album. Since the band’s last album in 1997, Play Nine Songs With Mr. Quintron a lot has changed in this band’s lineage. They have gone on to influence countless Garage/Punk bands since then such as The Hives and The White Stripes and each member has gone onto achieve different accomplishments of their own. Jack Yarber has gone onto play with Jack O & The Tennessee Tearjerkers, Greg Cartwright has gone onto play with Reigning Sound and Eric Friedl has played in a bunch of one off bands and formed Goner Records. The Oblivians have reformed several times since 1997 for live performances, but they announced last year that they would be putting out a new full length album.

Desperation was released in June 2013 on In The Red Records. The best way to perhaps describe the band's sound of the past would be something like dried up alcohol that was spilled on the floor in some grimy bar, baked in the Memphis heat. The band's blend of Garage, Punk and Soul has not been lost here. The album starts off with the slow Soulful Garage burner “I’ll Be Gone” sung by Greg Cartwright, with lyrics such “Is it for real this time/I’ve seen the signs/your dreams ain’t got nothing to do with mine” addressing their return and getting older with lines such as “There ain’t no way to know/How life will treat you so/Let’s Rock and Roll as we get old”. The song is a thoughtful and reflective start to not only this album, but the band's return. “Loving Cup” follows next. It is a raucous cover of a song originally by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, done in a fashion to songs they’ve done in the past on previous albums such as “Vietnam War Blues” from Soul Food.
“Run For Cover” is a fast paced Punk track sung by Eric Friedl sounding something like Motorhead, while “Woke Up In A Police Car” is another slow scuzzy Soulful Garage burner. Jack Yarber’s “Little War Child” sounds similar to “Stop and Think It Over” by The Compulsive Gamblers another band in the lineage of The Oblivans that is often overlooked. Other standout tracks include the Lo-Fi Punk “Fire Detector”, the greasy Soul of “Back Street Hangout”, the Cramps-like “Em” and the albums ending track “Mama Guitar”, which sounds like it was recorded with one microphone in the corner of the room. This song ends the album by connecting its sound with earlier Oblivian sounding songs and recordings.  While at times Desperation does draw from sounds that each of the respective band members have had with their other music projects, this song lets us know at the end of the album that The Oblivians feel remains. 

In a recent interview, Greg Oblivian (AKA Greg Cartwright) stated:

“Between our last record as a band in ’97 and now, a lot of water has passed below that bridge. We three went our own ways after that and pursued our own musical goals. Personally, I often missed the dynamic that Jack and Eric offered to my songwriting. Almost as much as I missed being given carte blanche to add a thing or two to theirs. I’ve played with lots of great musicians in the interim but needless to say, it’s a hard itch to scratch. The dynamic between us was a singular thing. So, over the years as we would occasionally reunite for a festival or special occasion, the idea began to grow in the back of my mind—the idea of making a new record. I mean, if you’re going to keep playing as a band eventually you’ll want new songs to play. Because as much as we enjoyed playing together the thing I missed the most was creating together. So that’s what we did.”

Despite the positive aspects of this re-union, Eric Oblivian (AKA Eric Friedl) has stated in an interview with Memphis Flyer that "Some people just aren't going to like it," but overall, Desperation is a thoughtful return. Recorded at Dan Auerbach's studio in Nasheville, the music on this album is just as greasy and dimly lit as the album's cover. The difference between this album and their previous efforts is that time has passed. That dried up alcohol spot may have aged and gotten sticky, but it’s still there and it's still all over this album.


This week's program also featured two live acoustic tracks from musician Chris Crossroads. You can learn more about him on his website http://chriscrossroads.com and also hear some music at his bandcamp page.

This Week's Play List:

1. Toy Love – Rebel (Live At The Gluepot 1980)
2. The Nils – In Betweens
3. By Divine Right – Past The Stars
4. Ramblin' Jack Elliot - Muleskinner Blues
5. Andrew Neville - Gal Back Home
6. Indian Wars – Pastor Phillips
7. Chris Crossroads - All In The Family (Live On Air at CJAM FM)
8. Chris Crossroads - Southern Fried Turnips (Live On Air at CJAM FM)
9. New Kind of Mambo – My Girlfriend’s In The FBI
10. Prehistoric Cave Strokers - Let's Id!
11. Paul Jacobs – Sara’s Party
12. Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixen - Let's Go Burn Ole Nashville Down
13. Oblivians – Call The Police
14. Oblivians – Little War Child
15. The Cramps - People Ain't No Good
16. The Ugly Ducklings - The Hangman
17. The Magnificent 7's - Today's Empire, Tomorrows Ashes
18. The Replacements – Take Me Down To The Hospital
19. The Evaporators - Brainwashed
20. Ty Segall – I Can’t Feel It
21. Ty Segall - My Head Explodes

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for June 26. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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