Blues Explosion hits Pittsburgh

14 Jul

Blues Explosion
w/ Expensive Shit & Icon Gallery
Thursday, July 15th
7 PM, 21+

The artists more commonly known as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion will be playing Diesel this Thursday, as a part of a few tour dates that also hit Pitchfork and Michigan–after which they will be doing some fall dates in California. Although Jon Spencer has not released an album with Blues Explosion in six years, fans still shiver in anxious excitement to see the band’s hybrid style of rock n roll blues; many of the favorable live reviews stem from Spencer’s eagerness to interact with the crowd and his wild, borderline raucous, charisma. Seeing as the band possesses a diverse range of sounds embedded in their instrumentation and an extensive discography, even those who became disappointed with the band’s output after Now I Got Worry will hopefully find their dismay jolted out of them at the show.

photo by Brian Velenchenko

Being previously unfamiliar with the band’s work, the first album I started out with was Orange (after checking out Groovy Hate Fuck by Pussy Galore) and I felt pretty annoyed at myself for brushing off the band after only having heard “Talk About the Blues.” Even from the first track, you get the feeling that Spencer can pretty much sell anything he sings due to the band’s musical chops, his own vocal prowess, and their penchant for having a damn good time. Even though the last track has a cheesy “we’re playing las vegas” ostentatious feel to it, there’s enough of a genuine 70s rock vibe in order for the band to pull it off.

I think that my main gripe with Damage isn’t that the songs are bad, but the popularity for swaggering southern cock rock has grown so much that it is hard to pick out the band’s redeeming qualities from everything else that’s floating around. Despite this, “Crunchy” and “Fed Up and Low Down” still stand out–the former for its poppy goodness and the latter for its retreat into funky powered territory that is intermittently changed up with a careening punk chorus.

Spencer’s more current work in Heavy Trash highlights his musical knowledge in a way that Damage did not; not only is he able to delve into more genres with Matt Verta-Ray–country, blues, rockabilly–the removal of the Blues Explosion brand allows him to write more faceted lyrics as well. The band’s latest record, Midnight Summer Serenade, consolidates production quality, songwriting, and album progression in a manner that’s very addictive. It’s like The King Khan & BBQ Show’s wet dream.

JSBX sampler:

and also: Bedevilment from Heavy Trash’s Midnight Summer Serenade (2009),
Dead Meat from Pussy Galore’s Groovy Hate Fuck (Feel Good About Your Body) LP (1987)

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