The Electric are from St. Louis and sound well-read on groups like Judas Priest, the Stooges and New York Dolls. This album, which took over a year to make, is an album that has gotten praise from the city’s critics, with one going so far as to compare it to the Rolling Stones circa Beggars Banquet or Let It Bleed. Lofty comparisons indeed! However, the group has a drummer and singer called Jeff Rocket, so how can they possibly fail? Sarcasm aside, the Electric begin this disc with “Let’s Go (Explode)”, a manic punk sound that is straight out of the early seventies New York punk underground scene, although the vocals veer from Iggy Pop to more of an artful David Bowie circa The Thin White Duke incarnation. Bassist Lorne Day and guitarist Matty Coonfield deliver the goods early on this track. And fortunately they seem to be energized from this momentum, leading into the feel-good head-bobbing “Out Behind the Roadhouse”, which teems with meaty guitars and a garage-rock style similar to the Mooney Suzuki.
This groove the Electric is cashing in on is one that can easily be seen as a fraud if it is delivered as such. But even during the slower and pop-oriented, hand-clapping “Poor Loretta”, the Electric are, well, electric. Everything is toned down somewhat, especially the guitars, and the bridge is a vocal offered up through a police bullhorn it appears. Fortunately they get back to the boogie rock during “Make Love & War”, which comes extremely close to capturing the mood on the last album from Sweden’s The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Behind the Music. It’s a quick run-through that doesn’t do much except please the listener for a couple of minutes. Here keyboards, courtesy of Coonfield, are added while vocalist Jason Wallace Triefenbach has a healthy sweat going for the 100-second tune.
Too often, though, the songs resemble Elvis (Presley, not Costello) doing a punk rock tune. The only thing you’re missing out on is the “Thank you, thank you very much.” This is exemplified on “Sloe Gin” which could be performed by the Hives or Jet just as easily. But the deep vocal timbre makes the Electric come off as a parody of themselves for this track. It’s unfortunate because it is a good rocking tune. “All The Other Girls” fares far better and might make the Stones references ring true. The slow Southern stroll through this country-rock song with a dark seedy tension underneath makes it all the more alluring. It builds nicely before going back to square one as Medusa gets mentioned. “But when you lay with me your shoulders and your eyes are above me,” the lyric goes. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Iceland’s Singapore Sling could easily make this song part of their set, as it’s easily the highlight thus far. Triefenbach lends some crisp harmonicas solos at the end for maximum effect.
When the Electric opt for tighter two-minute rock tunes, they are perhaps right up there with the big label bands with the bigger promotional push behind them. Yet on “Rock Scars”, it sounds like a great studio recording and not that much of a live one. The notes and singing is too perfect and there needs to be a hell of a lot more piano heard than there is buried in the track. “I just came here looking for your kiss,” the band sings before the tune runs into a self-made wall. One quickly forgets the wall when they hit their stride again on “The Oracle at 17th & Olive”. Despite taking a while to loosen up and go with the flow, the Electric show hints at what might make people turn heads or give another listen to the album—innate riffs that hit you in the stomach and other parts to get you moving or gyrating. “Jupiter” opens with notes that could be mistaken for a Syd Barrett or early Pink Floyd psychedelic trip and the lyrics about being loved like an octopus could be construed as written during such a trip. It’s another great effort!
By the time you hit the comedic Thorogood boogie rock on “Silicone Sis”, the Electric have made their case quite clearly. They are hopefully not going away anywhere soon!
// Notes from the Road
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