Redd Kross – Researching The Blues

January 01, 1970

(Merge)

 

www.mergerecords.com

 

 

The preeminent princes of power pop, glam and
bubble-yum have returned at long last, be still my beating heart! After a
recording absence of 15 years, and a 34-year history, the boys-to-men have
dropped their 77h full-length album, much to the ever-lasting joy of
salivating fans world-wide. The first of a few reunion shows started in 2006,
but it’s taken this long to get back into the studio again, partly due to
having to self-finance the project. The years may be long, but all the youthful
exuberance is still in evidence herein. When Red Cross 1.0 originally kicked it
into gear, Jeff and Steven McDonald were 15 and 11, respectively. These guys
were born with more rock ‘n’ roll coursing through their veins than corpuscles,
and are not showing any signs of anemia yet.

 

Researching
the Blues
is a goddamn gem, crackling with energy, that totally celebrates the
pure bliss and joy that rock ‘n’ roll can, and should be.  In short, it’s everything that you were
hoping it would be. The band itself is very happy with the outcome and
proclaims the effort as their best to date. Most of the songs were written by
Jeff over a period running from 2007 to 2008, recorded then, with Steven
overseeing most of the production and mixing earlier this year. It was
important to Steven to control most of the final mix himself, to keep their
vision intact and for it to sound like it did in their heads. The band consists
of the classic Neurotica line up of
Jeff and Steven, Robert Hecker and Roy McDonald.

 

The title song is a pop-punk head banger with
a compelling, pounding beat, shredding guitars and ferocious wah-wah’s. You can
almost picture the brothers wildly flailing their long hair back and
forth.  “Stay Away From Downtown” had a
nagging familiarity about it, which finally hit me after numerous plays.  It has the hooky, familiar sound of something
that The Muffs could have done. “Uglier” is right back in the old Redd Kross
groove, reminding me a lot of “Jimmy’s Fantasy” and some mid-‘70’s glam. About
¾’s of the way through, it swerves madly off the road, taking out a mailbox and
a fence before careening back onto the road again. “Dracula’s Daughter,” in
spite of its dark title, is a return to the paisley-pop of bands like The Rain
Parade and The Parties, sweet, lovely, wistful and very jangly. The equally
gruesomely titled “Meet Frankenstein,” again is old school Redd Kross, pure
bubblegum pop for now people, with some Beatle-esque touches. There’s some real
clap-happy buzz saw pop going on with “One of the Good Ones.” It emotes sheer
bliss, joy, sunbeams and flowers. Even more amped up with crazy-ass guitar
antics, a saturated sound and their trademark tandem vocals is “The Nu
Temptations,” another high-spirited ass-kicker like “Researching the Blues.”

 

There’s a very note-worthy melody, again
recalling The Muffs, on “Winter Blues,” anthemic, complex and a touch of George
Harrison-like guitar near the end. It could be their version of “Here Comes the
Sun,” with lyrics like “Psychic rain, Snow and pain, Will give way, To
solar-regulated days.”

 

With colorful tweaking around with production
effects and a thumping bass beat, “Hazel Eyes” is a fun number to end on, again
with a familiarity harkening back to albums past.  It’s really something, as well as a
dichotomy, when a band can sound better than ever and still sound the same.

 

From these ten songs, running 32 minutes, and
not a weak one in the bunch, Researching
The Blues
is everything the dedicated Redd Kross fan could possibly desire
from a return album, except of course, maybe a few more songs. We’ll just have
to keep our fingers krossed that another album will be in the pipeline soon.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Uglier,” “Researching the Blues,” and “Dracula’s
Daughter.”  BARRY ST. VITUS

 

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