JSBX's latest reeks of
raw, southern flavor
By Chris Goodier
Daily Cougar Staff
Grit has never been more appealing, thanks
to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's latest release, Plastic Fang.
Following the success of the electronic-based
ACME, the new album cages the resolute intensity of one of today's rawest
live acts. It gets back to the
southern sweat-rock vibe of 1996's Orange,
while a proactive producer heightens the more cohesive sound.
Singer/guitarist Spencer has come into
his own on this one, not as a musician but as a rock star. His Big Bopper/Elvis-style
drawl is infectious and
irresistible for a full 48 minutes.
Images of a toothpick dangling between
defiantly curled lips, hard packs rolled tightly against naturally oiled
biceps and chicken grease-drenched
hands running gloss through dark hair
make Plastic Fang the soundtrack to a domestic disturbance call.
Many of the songs are similar, as this
is by no means an album of technical brilliance. The gutsy attitude and
energy behind these punkabilly jams is
what gains respect, providing a response
to Lenny Kravitz's "rock 'n' roll is dead" statement. That would be before
Kravitz had a mantel lined with
The inaugural track, "Sweet N Sour," barrels
down with the momentum of an 18-wheeler into a weigh station. Here, searing
complement cavernous snare cracks in an
The large sound was made possible by the
in-studio employment of Steve Jordan behind the boards. With experience
working for everyone from B.B.
King to Billy Joel, Jordan gets a full
sound out of a mere trio.
More impressive is that JSBX is bass-less,
relying on surprisingly effective bottom-heavy guitar tones to fill the
void. Jordan accomplished this with "a
lot of different miking techniques, bi-
and tri- amping stuff. I didn't want to do a lot of overdubs."
"It's all to (emulate) a live performance
... beyond the technical and creative stuff, he was just egging us on,"
Throughout each track, Plastic Fang retains
a die-cast macabre mood, as evident in the chain-gang lamentations of "Down
in the Beast." Spencer
takes the role of Jonah and recounts a
trip into the stomach of a bayou fish here, bellowing declarations such
as "Three miles down, my blood gone
cold. And up came a monster, to swallow
Whether the thirst be carnal or blood,
JSBX's sixth full-length will satisfy all primal inhibitions.