GARAGE CHARM Nuclear Boots
There are a few reasons not to get overly excited about the debut release from Nuclear Boots. The rock/punk trio's Idiots in the City doesn't break any creative ground and is about as straight-ahead as you can imagine from guitar-bass-drums-vocals. You might even call their sound thin, without any of that "they sound really big for just being three guys" thing about them.
That said, they're really charming. And in this time of total over-production, where the songs on certain top 40 radio stations I could mention don't seem to involve the use of any actual instruments, a band that plays old-time rock and roll (their name is a Cars reference, I believe, and they do a cover of "You Might Think" live), without taking themselves seriously, is a breath of fresh air.
Sure, we get tons of acoustic throwbacks nowadays, but how often do we get new music from bands that sound like they did, indeed, record the whole thing in a garage? Kudos to Ron Harrity for helping these guys with a touch of that guitar tone that made the first Harpswell Sound EP so earthy.
Thus, when guitarist/vocalist Zeke Comparetto moves into an early-Clapton extended solo in the raw-blues "Tie U Up," it doesn't come off self-indulgent, but primal and joyful. If you like the last couple of Dylan albums, you'd like this (not that the lyrics are quite as deep: "I can't get by, even when I try").
And they get off some good lines. There's a nice contrast between the '60s simplicity of the reverb in "Never be the Same," and the "poster child of a modern day/Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae." Even if you don't like funny in your music, it's hard not to get with the surfy "Haddock": "He's really haddock/He's haddock with you."
Why is "Sister Suzie" so listenable? It's really hard to say. It sounds like the first band you ever played with back in high school sometimes, but damn if that band wasn't fun. Maybe it's the chemistry between bassist Miles Comparetto and his brother. Maybe it's the wild abandon of Bruce Merson on the drums, hitting things like they kicked him in the shins.
Whatever it is, it's not cerebral or logical, but it's music-making for all the right reasons. Just go with it.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
IDIOTS IN THE CITY | Released by Nuclear Boots | with Hoboe | at Slainte, in Portland | July 2 | with Batshelter | at Port City Music Hall, in Portland | July 12 | with Metal Feathers | at Bayside Bowl, in Portland | July 22 | tinyurl.com/NuclearBoots