Forget the middle-fingers-in-triplicate cover art and the menacing album title, the five men of OBN IIIs are doing their part to save rock ‘n’ roll, and damned if they just about singlehandedly do it. Led by frontman Orville Bateman Neeley III, Third Time to Harm (their third LP, natch, and self-produced, to boot) finds the band mixing early-oughts garage rave-ups (think Electric Sweat-era Mooney Suzuki) with no-nonsense ‘70s hard rock, updating guitar heroics perfected by Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek and Rob Younger’s post-Birdman bands (New Christs, New Race, etc). It’s a delirious, speaker-rattling, air guitar-windmilling, helluva rock record.
Side A’s opening trio of “No Time for the Blues”, “The Rockin Spins” and “Uncle Powderbag” harken back to the band’s earlier sleaze rock, all drunken debauchery and seedy local(e)s, before blasting off into the nearly-prog rock burners “Queen Glom” and “Beg to Christ”: the former opens with a three and a half-minute doomy psych trip – itself nearly longer than any other song they’ve previously put to tape – before exploding into a riff-fest decrying a bad news woman who’s the “town fucking squid”. “Beg to Christ” is even better, seven minutes of serpentine guitar that you won’t believe wasn’t released in 1975. To top it all off, Third Time to Harm ends with a Stonesy (!) parable about rock sellouts (“Parasites”) and the closing “Worries”, which sonically merges the band’s chief styles and laments a world in the throes of irreversible climate change (“One day everything we know will be gone… a nuclear ocean will be claiming back the land”). Third Time is easily one of the best rock records of recent memory.
// Notes from the Road
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