Young Mods from the Garage
There are as many stylistic branches on the rock and roll tree as there are kids with guitars, and only a pessimist would regard that as a bad thing. But with so many of those kids crawling out to the end of their respective limbs, there's no little comfort to be found clinging to the trunk. The trunk's called garage rock. It's made with drums, bass, guitar, a singer and a whole lotta heart, and if the venerable Rolling Stones are the proto-model, it's a truism that garage rock reinvents, or at least reproduces itself, every few years. What, after all, did the Replacements ever do that was really new?
Austin's Wannabes don't reinvent the wheel, but they do roll it through a few more turns on their recently released debut Mod Flower Cake (Dejadisc). If the Mod of the title conjures vague intimations of the Who and the Jam so be it, but Wannabes sound more like third-generation keepers of the flame that second-generation American garage rockers like Soul Asylum (before Dave Pirner started dating models) and the Replacements (before Paul Westerburg started believing all those stories about what a great writer he was) kept burning through the 1980s. They deliver driving, pummeling, rawboned, guitar-propelled rock and roll that achieves its distortion not so much through a foot pedal as by playing hard, as if it mattered.
But unlike the Replacements, who topped out mid-career with Let It Be, and Soul Asylum, who plateaued (I'm told) sometime when I must not have been looking, Wannabes have packed their debut with 14 raucous slabs of angrily melodic guitar rock that doesn't leave much room for a hell of a lot of improvement. I don't know -- maybe the boys have another couple of albums this good in them, and you certainly want to wish them well, but Mod Flower Cake has all the earmarks of a classic, right down to the convincingly literate angst of its befuddled but undaunted lyrics. Liner notes send out thanks to "families, friends and ex-girlfriends," whence the best garage rock material has always sprung. Wannabes must have had great inspiration in all three categories, because Mod Flower Cake is a great garage rock album.
-- Brad Tyer
Wannabes plays at 9 p.m., Thursday, October 6 at Fitzgerald's. Tickets cost $5 for adults, $7 for minors. Call 862-3838 for info.
* Beausoleil at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, Thursday, October 6
* Doo Rag at Harvey's Club Deluxe, Thursday, October 6
* Reverend Horton Heat at The Abyss, Friday, October 7
* Cows at Urban Art Bar, Friday, October 7
* Maria Muldaur at Billy Blues, Saturday, October 8
* Johnny Dyer at The Big Easy, Saturday, October 8
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