The Oblivians – Desperation


obliviansWith a resurgence of lo-fi punk rock over the last decade it is good to see one of the best from the 90’s strap it back on as the Oblivians return to offer up Desperation in 2013.

The trio of Greg Cartwright, Jack Yarber and Eric Friedl gained an underground cult following with their brash combo of punk/garage/blues rock which sounded (and often was) off the cuff. Famously the trio rotates singing, playing guitar and drumming, that interchange can bring stylistic differences but there is a common thread that makes it all Oblivians music, something the group hasn’t create since 1998.

Desperation ranks with the best of the groups previous offerings. These are direct tunes that stomp and spit but have a skuzzy familiar feel; when the distorted jangle and slamming of “I’ll Be Gone” starts up things just fall into place.

The chugging “Loving Cup” (unfortunately not a Rolling Stones cover) screeches and stomps as does the frantic “Fire Detector”. Stripped down tunes like “Woke Up In A Police Car”, “Pinball Kings” and “Little War Child” have a Ramones/fifties feel to them that grooves.

Greg Cartwright delivering a cover of the zydeco “Call The Police” is an album highlight with it’s driving snare, do-si-do style, and guests Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat adding organ/percussion on the track that’s sure to be a hit with the Big Easy punk rockers. The second half of the disk isn’t as successful as the first, but “Back Street Hangout” and especially the title track have enough charm and swagger to override any sense of boredom.

Sure the minimalist production is a draw for most (and repellent for some) but the beauty of the band really lies in the songwriting, perform most of these tracks via a 16 piece big band complete with horns, percussion and back-up singers and the songs would still take off. That is not something that can be said for majority of the bands that work in this style, it is good to see the Oblivians back.

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