The Upshot: Like a treasured garage mixtape, but as blazingly fresh as any young band you’d care to mention.
BY FRED MILLS
The BLURT braintrust got together and wholeheartedly agreed: We want Georgia’s Woggles to be our official house band. I mean, they’ve already played multiple BLURT day parties in Austin during SXSW, so why not formalize the notion? Not a band to rest on such obvious laurels, however, the Woggles recently notched a major imprimatur in the form of signing with Little Steven’s Wicked Cool label (he’d already awarded them his storied “Coolest Song In the World” label), going on to snag veteran studio rat Jim Diamond to produce the platter. The resulting Tally Ho! is everything we’ve come to expect from the gang, and then some—which is saying a lot considering they’ve been doing this for 30 years.
Leading the pack, of course, is vocalist Mighty Manfred Jones—I still have a mental image of him dancing on a picnic table during his band’s day party set at SXSW 2013—who brings an outsized swagger and classic showman’s flair to the, uh, “table.” He’s joined by bassist Patrick O’Connor, drummer Dan Hall, and guitarist Jeff Walls (the newest member of the band, from the late, great Guadalcanal Diary and Hillbilly Frankenstein; he came into the fold following the death of guitarist George Holton). And straight outta the gate, everyone smokes: opener “Luminol Test” is a fuzztone-laced, stop/start stomper guaranteed to have you reaching for your Nuggets and Beyond the Grave compilations to see if this isn’t in fact a cover; nuh-huh, but it sure sounds like it already enjoyed “classic” status. That’s followed by “Hard Times,” an R&B-flavored ditto complete with call-and-response action between the singer and the chorus, who are all urged along by the omnipresent Farfisa. And when “What You Think We Are” cues up amid searing guitar riffs (more fuzz, natch) and a Paul Revere & The Raiders arrangement and vocal motif, only the most recalcitrant rock snob will be able to resist succumbing to the primal charms of the Woggles.
The hits, of course, keep a-comin’, from the modal twang-jangle of “Moritori Salutant” to the echo-laden jungle thump and B-movie tip that is “Mothra Hai” (you want “jungle”? check out the throbbing “Jungle Queen” and its chain-gang/tribal chanting) to the hectic, jet-powered, positively insane raveup of “Learn To Love Again.” Ultimately, Tally Ho! is not only everything we’ve come to expect from the Woggles, it’s everything and then some—reassuring familiar, like a treasured garage-rock mixtape you compiled years ago and only just recently unearthed in a box that was stashed in the back of your closet, yet as blazingly fresh and energizing as anything some young band of well-hyped upstarts might deliver in 2017.
It’s positively nowsville, Pops. Dear Woggles, let’s have a house party again, soon.
DOWNLOAD: “Hard Times,” “Learn to Love Again,” “What You Think We Are”