The Upshot: Hailing from St. Joseph, Missouri, the garage rock trio serves up a solid, smoking record.
BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS
The vibe is alive in Scruffy and the Janitors. Steeped long in the garage rock pool; combining influences such as The Sonics, Cage the Elephant, The Strokes, The Hives, Nirvana and Mudhoney, Scruffy have refined the sound they’ve been building on since the independently released, recorded on a boombox triumph that is Pino.
The elements that made Pino and the follow-up ep Anglo such winners: aggression, smoldering blues, rock solid drums and blazing guitar work, are front and center on the band’s latest Modeling is Hard.
Three years in the making, the time spent recording shines here; Scruffy took their time on this one and it shows. The extra time recording appears to have given Scruffy (bassist/vocalist Steven Foster, drummer Trevin Newton and brother/guitarist Teriq) space to find out who they are as musicians, what they wanted as a band and what it takes to make a mostly solid, smoking record.
“Eraser” starts out Modeling is Hard like a kick in the teeth; both aggressive and melodic, a Nirvana-esque crunchy riff with a nod to the 80’s greatness that were The Cars dominate a song that would have fit in perfectly on the airwaves circa 1993.
“You Got Hit” is straightforward guitar/bass/drums rock n roll that’s as catchy as an STD but a lot more fun. A few spins of this burner and it played in my head for the better part of the afternoon, couldn’t shake it, this is a single. If not, it should be. “You Got Hit” is better than 98% of the “alternative music” played on the radio today. Does radio matter anymore? Perhaps that’s a story for another time.
Not all is perfect with Modeling is Hard (some overlong guitar solos and repetitive lyrics) but it’s damned close. Modeling is Hard is the record I’ve wanted from Scruffy, the record I knew they had the ability as a unit to make, an undeniable rock record.
If you’ve followed Scruffy and the Janitors since the beginning, watched them change and grow as they’ve stomped through rock and roll, garage and psychedelia, then you will love Modeling. If you haven’t, if you are not blessed to live in the splendid Midwest, then it’s time, it’s time to stop caring about BS and to start paying attention to Scruffy and the Janitors.
DOWNLOAD: “Eraser,” “You Got Hit”