WE WILL ROCK YOU IN AN IRONIC SENSE: Like so many bands these days, New Orleans' Supagroup knowingly apes the blues-based riff rock that filled arenas in the '70s. So when I listen to their self-titled debut album (2003, Foodchain), I'm not exactly sure what to make of it.
Do I say, "Yeah, I usta go see the Supersuckers back in the day, so I've heard all this before?" Or do I say, "Yeah, that's a cool riff, these guys kinda rock?" Why did I forgive the 'Suckers for ripping off AC/DC with a wink and a nod while it's harder to accept from these guys? Does it have anything to do with the fact that ripping off AC/DC was totally uncool in the late '80s and early '90s when Eddie and the boys first did it, and now that everyone with a tattoo and a decent record collection is doing it, it's not as valid? Am I becoming so old and jaded that I can't allow Supagroup the same right to rock stupidly that the Supersuckers afforded me? Or am I just annoyed that Supagroup is still doing the same stupid schtick that the Suckers did 15 years ago, to drunk kids who probably have never even heard of the Supersuckers, let alone the parodied sources that made it funny in the first place?
Or maybe I'm just overthinking it and should just succumb to the songs, which are as well-constructed as any of this stuff being released these days, and the sound, which I was raised on and am therefore partial to.
The high point of the album is the second song, "Woulda Been Nice," which crashes the big blues-rock groove of Foghat together with hooks that reach back to glam chanting ("whoo-woos," not to mention hand claps) and Southern rock boogie, and manages to stand sincerely on its own merits. The lyrics mention a wink and a smile, but thankfully, there's no wink and nod--a lesson most of the songs here could learn. (How many songs that specifically mention "rock and roll" can you weather before you yearn for something a bit more meaningful? After a while, it becomes the equivalent of those songs about how hard it is to tour, to be out on the road for so long, and how, dammit, the old lady couldn't come along this time.)
If 20 other bands before them weren't called "the American AC/DC," then I suppose that's what I'd call these guys (albeit with a disclaimer that they're distinctly more blues-based and American-sounding). But the analogy is old, which I suppose is my point. At least AC/DC had the wits to lace a song like "Big Balls" with double entendres so obvious that they were hilarious. Supagroup just spews lines that refer to female genitalia as "cat soup" and expects us to laugh at the joke. There is no joke, folks. It's just Bad Company's split ends, AC/DC's SGs and Marshalls, and a sub-Black Crowes sense of authenticity, all rolled into one for the kids who missed it the first time around. But with more boasting about their ability to rock you--which to their credit, they just might do.
Supagroup performs on Monday, Aug.18, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. An opening band to be announced will open the show at 9:30 p.m. Call 798-1298 for further details.
HIT OF RESIN: With songs that are dense and sometimes bludgeoning, it's a near miracle that Caustic Resin's music also recalls the vast open spaces of their home state of Idaho. The band specializes in spacey, bordering-on-psychedelic, drawn-out guitar epics that hit harder than fellow statesmen Built To Spill, with whom Caustic Resin shares a member, Brett Netson, and with whom they once collaborated with on an EP, 1996's appropriately titled Built To Spill Caustic Resin (Up).
Speaking of Built To Spill, local openers the Solace Brothers will once again be heading out on tour with the band next month. Having already charted a couple weeks covering the West coast with Doug Martch and crew earlier this year, the Brothers will spend a full six weeks winning over the Midwest and East Coast in September and October. The next couple months will also see the release of the Solace Brothers' first full-length album, which was recorded with Jim Waters and features guest appearances from Jon Spencer and Workdogs drummer Scott Jarvis.
Caustic Resin and the Solace Brothers perform at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $5. For more information call 622-8848.
WE'VE STILL GOT THE BEAT: While the music of the Go-Go's sounds like bouncy girl pop to 21st-century ears, at the time of the band's 1981 debut release, Beauty and the Beat, it was considered new wave, a term record company suits dreamed up to market bands whose punk edge was dulled once the labels realized punk wasn't selling. And, in fact, the Go-Go's did indeed once have a punk edge; you just couldn't hear it once IRS Records got ahold of them. (Singer Belinda Carlisle was actually once a member of seminal L.A. punks the Germs, a fact that's worth its weight in gold as far as street cred goes.) It's too bad there's no audio documentation of the band's earliest days, but more than 20 years after it was first released, Beauty remains one hell of an album. While its two singles, "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed," are etched in the mind of anyone who grew up during that time (and thanks to an ongoing nostalgia for the '80s, in the minds of subsequent generations, as well), some of the album's best tracks are its lesser known; "Skidmarks on My Heart" and "This Town," which succinctly encapsulates L.A.'s sordid glamour, come to mind.
The two albums that followed--1982's Vacation and 1984's Talk Show--were even slicker than the debut, but each had a handful of songs whose craft and ebullience still cannot be denied. Following a breakup that lasted almost 15 years, the members of the Go-Go's reconciled their differences and reunited for a tour and an album, 2001's God Bless The Go-Go's, which is one of the few discs by a reunited band to receive positive reviews. Since then, the band has been touring sporadically, and they'll make a local stop this week, opening for '80s AOR goddess Pat Benatar.
Pat Benatar and the Go-Go's appear at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Tickets are $35 for reserved seats, $17.15 for a spot on the lawn. For more info call 883-1700 or log onto avaconcerts.com.