By: Ron Hart
Nothing beats a rough live recording of your favorite new band, especially when they don't have a proper album out yet. But, who would've thought that a crappy bootleg would lead to a tasty record deal with one of the most prominent indie labels in the U.S.? Well, when your frontman is former Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes charge Rick Froberg, this scenario seems a little more understandable. Signed by Sub Pop's A&R guru Chris Jacobs after hearing a crude tape of the very first live show by Froberg's latest band, Obits, at New York's Cakeshop in January of 2008, it took the Brooklyn-based group less than a year to cobble together I Blame You (released March 29), a no-frills debut LP produced by Eli Janney of Girls Against Boys that sounds equally like everything and unlike anything Froberg has been involved with in his near-twenty year career.
Fans of Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu will immediately recognize the pitch-perfect wail of Froberg's ageless voice, which sounds as immediate and incendiary as it did on Yank Crime back in 1994. However, the music backing up that classic vox offers him a chance to really sing out his heartbreak, be it about a girl or a government, atop a barrage of propulsive garage-surf-psych grooves that comes off Little Steven's vinyl collection melted down into one giant ACME bomb about to get dropped on your dome.
Key tracks on I Blame You include the instrumental title cut that may remind an educated ear of The Ventures at their most biting, a vicious spin on "Milk Cow Blues" that steals the Kokomo Arnold classic right from the amps of The Kinks to give it a renewed sense of urgency, and the blistering album opener, "Widow Of My Dreams," which, if you have this album on shuffle in your iPod, might get mistaken for a deep cut on that Estrus Records sampler you uploaded from your old college days. Armed with the kind of gristle only acquired through years of experience, Obits is the sound of Brooklyn sharpening its teeth once again, just in time for that long overdue bite in the arse those condo-dwelling hipsters – the ones who wouldn't know Hot Snakes from The Blues Magoos - mucking up the old neighborhoods are in dire need of.
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