By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The album's worth of songs that The Filthy Reds recorded at home on a computer is worth it just for the song titles alone: "On the Road to Nicestacheville," "The Holiest Egg Nog I've Ever Seen," "Jimmy Buffett Can Smoke Himself Straight to Hell," "Surf's Up, Shithead." And so on. Then there are the lyrics: "I picked up my guitar on the way here and I rocked my pants right off/I rocked them off/I rocked my pants off," from "Apologie to the Queene." Or "Gary Busey punched me in the face/And it hurt like a bastard," from "Gary Busey." Or, maybe, "If I had a dollar, I'd buy you a Ninja Turtles ice cream bar/If I had a mustache, I'd tell you what a rockin' chick you are," from "To Sara Pt. 2." And that's just a taste.
This all may sound a little silly, and it is, at least a little bit, but dammit, it is entertaining. This probably doesn't do it justice, but think of a cross between just-fucking-around Ween (without the haze of pot smoke) and The Dooms U.K. before that group went on indefinite hiatus. Meaning: If it is a joke, the Reds (or The Freds, if you like) are doing their best not to laugh. And it doesn't come off as a joke, not all of it, anyway; the songs are good, even if the musicianship is still a bit sloppy--in a good way. (And if it's jokes you're after, head to The Filthy Reds' Web site, www.geocities.com/filthyreds, where there are plenty.) Maybe if they could convince the pAper chAse's John Congleton to record them, and we did see him at one of their two shows, they could pull it all together, not that they need all that much help. If nothing else, it's nice to see a band not take itself so seriously. For example: During their opening slot at the Ridglea Theater on October 6, and their second show ever, bassist Mike McDevitt ate a sandwich during one of the group's songs, while a videotape of baseball bloopers played on the TV set in front of the stage.
Of course, that doesn't even get into the fact that, as this was happening, three-fourths of the band (McDevitt, drummer Greg Russell and Mac Wolf, who doesn't actually play an instrument, unless you count clapping, and you should) were dressed as construction workers--orange reflective vests, hard hats, work gloves. Singer-guitarist Bob McDevitt, on the other hand, was clad in a soccer-mom-worthy jogging suit with the worst hat in the history of bad hats. And they were all wearing fake, thick black mustaches. The point of all this? There doesn't seem to be one. Just as there was no real reason that at the Reds' first gig, Russell and Bob McDevitt took the stage as blue-blazered yachtsmen and Mike McDevitt was wearing a costume that made him look like either a California Raisin (remember those commercials?) or a potato. Or something.
That first gig--a battle of the bands to win a place on the upcoming Buzz-Oven compilation and a slot on Chomsky's CD-release shindig, didn't win them anything immediately (they came in a close second to South FM)--but they did pick up a few fans. Which is paying off in other ways: The Filthy Reds didn't get to open up for Chomsky that particular time, but the band was so impressed, they've invited the Reds to play with them at Trees on December 1. If you missed their first two shows, don't miss the next one...
Count author Stephen King as the latest person to discover the greatness that is Slobberbone. One of the characters in his latest novel, Black House, has encountered the band's particular genius. In chapter 16 of Black House, one of the novel's characters, Henry Leyden (a.k.a. The Wisconsin Rat) is listening to a Slobberbone tune, "Gimme Back My Dog," off last year's Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today. "Every five years or so, another great rock-'n'-roll song comes break-dancing out of the woodwork," Leyden says. "This is a great rock-'n'-roll song." Our sentiments exactly. In response to the literary tip of the hat, King has a standing invitation to be Slobberbone's guest anytime they play. Just make sure he doesn't want to sit in, fellas...
Texas transplant Ben Kweller is finishing up his debut for Dave Matthews' ATO Records (home to David Gray, among others), and the disc features some familiar faces for fans of Kweller's now-defunct group, Radish. Drummer John Kent and bassist Josh Lattanzi round out Kweller's studio band, which is pretty much the same lineup as Radish, or one of them, at least. You can hear some of the results later this fall, when Kweller releases an EP, mixing a few songs from the forthcoming album with some bedroom recordings. And you can hear all of them early next year, when Kweller's untitled ATO debut hits stores. By the way, if you are still holding Radish's 1997 debut, Restraining Bolt, against Kweller (released when he was but 15 years old), we'd advise against it. Head to www.benkweller.com to see how far he's come...