I remember when John Spencer Blues Explosion seemed to lead the way into something I didn’t know existed: the blown out, garage-soul, joke blues. Up until that point the blues was very serious, sad business from Robert Johnson and to combine it with wrestling ring ostentatiousness, distorted grooves and James Brown soul felt completely new. Hollywood
, out of Baltimore, MD feel like an extension of that moment when you realize you don’t have to be in a band that’s trying so hard to be cool or serious or political…if you like to get drunk and listen to loud music while being a jackass, then you should do that. Just be your god damn self, that’s what’s going to work in the end. Hollywood are a bunch of jokers, blasting scuzzy distortion all over the stage and if you stop for half a second to listen to their lyrics then they’ll have you pissing your pants.
A-Side "Sixteen?” - I just flipped this sleeve over to check out a cut and pasted nude hunks playing guitars around a suburban model home from the ‘50s. They were probably the inspiration for this track about underage girls. Just like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, he keeps getting older and they stay the same age. The foursome deliver a gutsy, scuzz groove that ends up smeared all over the single. Successfully trying to creep you out lyrically while going right for glass shattering heavy distortion and bass line crunch. Sweaty snot vocals float on top of the heavy distortion groove and they’re getting off on their own attitude. The backup vocal is the best turning this into perverted bubblegum Dictators pop. "Momma" layers on more scuzz, drawing out extra feedback for warble phasered vocals. Low-end grit is the key here, laying into a Butthole Surfers sound in a song to his mother. “It's too dirty, there’s too much echo, too much distortion!” But mom, it's the thought that counts. Does it count if the pancakes are burnt and you set the kitchen on fire? Then keep your breakfast in bed you bunch of sweaty creeps. Only a mom could love that mess and this racket. Plus you brought all those naked boys home to lounge around my living room! Wait until your father gets home.
B-Side’s "Girl?" is where I think got me started on that JSBX memory lane. This is more blues and production than the off road mud from the A-side’s layered vocals of distortion tin can telephone vocal. Really thinking like Nobunny with loose almost garage jangle with bent and sleazy sounding chords. It’s a frantic Natural Child sort of mess, just perpetually messing around, the kind of guys that never get serious, maybe even driving you a little crazy when your trying to actually get shit done. But they always seem to pull it off and that makes you even crazier. How are they even a tiny bit put together and coming up with catchy, southern style, west coast reverb crunch like this? The only question is do THEY even know great this is or are they going to get too drunk to even play next time. Or remember they wanted to press this record.
On clearish purple vinyl, let's say….. Lavender?