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New Bomb Turks | Switchblade Tongues and Butterknife Brains | review | punk | rock | Lollipop

New Bomb Turks

Switchblade Tongues and Butterknife Brains (Gearhead)
by Brian Varney

Ostensibly an odds'n'sods collection, this curiously-titled release is packed with enough good material that it could've passed as a "great lost album" kinda thing if they'd waited a few years to release it. Yeah, it's obvious from the wildly varying fidelity levels that this stuff spans several different sessions: Everything from sonic mudfest "Good On Ya Baby," which sounds like it was recorded in a dank, tiny basement because, well, it was, to "Something's Gotta Give," which could've easily been on the band's last album The Night Before the Day the Earth Stood Still. Still, good shit is good shit, and this, my friends, is good shit. Opener "Buckeye Donuts" (yes, it's a real 24-hour donut joint on the OSU campus) is a rapid-fire punker in the style of the band's Crypt releases, while the two songs that follow, "Something's Gotta Give" and "Bad For Me," are the sort of Stones-y rock and roll they began to explore on their underrated third album, Scared Straight.

Perhaps it's because these songs were, for the most part, not released, but this collection definitely presents New Bomb Turks taking more chances than their proper albums would have you believe they ever did. "Sammer'd" is a true oddity, a psychedelic instrumental that I'd have a hard time believing was the work of New Bomb Turks if I didn't have the CD in front of me. That's not all, though: "Bad for Me" has a bizarre jazz outro without precedent in the band's discography, "Law of the Long Arm" has Eric Davidson experimenting with vocal distortion (also without precedent, though as the pun-rific title shows, some things never change), and then there's the cover of Aerosmith's "Chip Away at the Stone." Though the rest of the band obviously takes to the song like mother's milk, turning in a meaty, thuggish run-through, it's a bit strange to hear Davidson sing lines like, "Sweet little mama, I wanna get next to you" without crossing his eyes, picking his nose, or shoving someone's hat down his pants.

This probably sounds like a pretty disparate collection, and in some ways, it is. But it also holds together as a surprisingly cohesive collection, partially because of the inclusion of bread-and-butter numbers like "Good On Ya Baby," an alternate version of "Statue of Liberty," and the torrential run through of Faron Young's 1955 proto-rock country classic, "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," which closes the collection, and partially because New Bomb Turks are/were such a goddamned good band that everything, even the weird shit, is indelibly their own.
(PO Box 421219 San Francisco, CA 94142)

 


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