BY FRED MILLS
You can blame ‘em or credit ‘em, take your pick. That 5-out-of-5-stars rating, above, will probably give you a hint as to where this southern boy’s loyalties lie.
For those of you not so enamoured of the lo-fi, early ‘90s garage/punk crud the Memphis trio so brazenly and brilliantly pioneered, feel free to plug in your own “1” or “0” stars. Of course, that would mean you’d have to disown all those White Stripes and Black Keys albums you self-consciously flaunt at the Brooklyn loft parties you frequent, but hey, nobody up there will be asking you about your fave raves at last year’s GonerFest, just who you saw at Pitchfork, so your secret life as a wannabe is secure, missy.
Back at the ranch, though, Jack, Greg and Eric Oblivian—Jack Yarber, Greg Cartwright, Eric Friedl—weren’t so much worrying about the hipster milieu’s take on their first album in more than a decade and a half. Each of them had been busy since semi-officially disbanding following a celebrated (in the underground, at least, via such labels as Sympathy For the Record Industry) 1993-98 run; Cartwright of course, helmed the massively popular Reigning Sound, moonlighted with the Parting Gifts, and produced countless other outfits, with Yarber and Friedl likewise multitasking (Friedl, of course, being the driving force behind Memphis’ Goner label of noisemakers). Random reunions eventually spawned a desire among the principals to cut fresh material, and the resulting Desperation was birthed at Dan Auerbach’s Nashville studio Easy Eye Sound.
Whattaya get? Why, some lo-fi, early ‘90s-inspired garage/punk crud, of course! From Cartwright’s stomping opening track “I’ll Be Gone” and his swaggering, lust-and-distortion-drenched “Em,” both wherein lurks the man’s abiding love for ‘60s soul; to Yarber’s grunge/thrash epic “Run For Cover” and Friedl’s Stones-styled romp “Fire Detector”; to a positively maniacal cover of Stephanie McDee’s (aka erstwhile Zydeco star Stephanie Sanders) “Call The Police,” which sends the garage band down to the bayou and floats ‘em back upriver totally swamped out; this is one serious nonstop party suitable for, as the latter song suggest, “tearing the whole place down.”
One suspects that’s exactly what will take place during the upcoming Oblivians tour. Stay tuned to your friends here at BLURT for an in-depth profile of the band in which we determine which of the three gentlemen has the best crawfish pie recipe…
DOWNLOAD: “Call The Police,” “Desperation,” “Em,” “Run For Cover”