[22 July 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
After several collaborations and guest vocalists such as Reverend Horton Heat, Nick Lowe, and Exene Cervenka, everyone’s favorite masked musicians return to what they do best with The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets. The band’s first all-instrumental album since 2003’s Supersonic Guitars in 3-D is a bit more garage rock or even punk than some of the earlier efforts, but there’s still plenty of rockabilly and southern surf to soak up.
The 13 tracks on The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets are not necessarily groundbreaking compositions, but they don’t need to be, because what they are is just damn good. With Eddie Angel and Danny Amis armed with guitars, Pete Curry on bass, and Jason “Tean Beat” Smay at the drum kit, Los Straitjackets tear through the entire set in just a half an hour, like the sonically supercharged superheroes that they are. Every minute is power packed with muscular riffs, mighty swagger and a touch of twang, and it’s fabulous! This is fun in the sun music. It’s also bonfire on the beach music. It’s block party with your best buds music. It’s late-night, date night music. It’s slinky, sexy summer music. It’s wrestling music. Ok, maybe not that last bit, despite the luchador masks worn by the band.
The legend of Los Straitjackets has been a big part of the band’s appeal during its 15-year career, with each member’s masked persona playing into the total package. This release has the trading cards, and the CD artwork contains comic panels featuring fortune cookies, Sasquatch, and a wild mouse, which also all appear in track titles, and it’s great. Of course, what’s truly legendary here, as always, is the sound.
There isn’t a weakling in the whole lot, but there are some serious standout tracks. “Blowout” is a fuzz-toned monster and “Minority Report” makes the most of a deep and murky guitar that sounds like the Swamp Thing at a sock hop and escalates into a frenzy of flying fretwork. “Teen Beast” may be the best of the bunch, borrowing beats and lifting licks from “Lust for Life”, but giving it a much more vigorous vibe.
The aforementioned “Sasquatch” is a beast that stomps through three chorded power riffs before barreling off into the forest at full speed on the bass line boogie. “Nocturnal Twist” is the closing credits to a B movie beach romp, while “Mercury” is all shadows and suspicion, like a spy in a scene from some forgotten noir classic.
For devotees of superb surf rock guitar, this will sit proudly between Dick Dale and Noki Edwards on the CD shelf. For older Los Straitjackets fans, The Further Adventures of Los Straitjackets is the band’s best collection of instrumentals to date. And for newer listeners, it will become your go-to party soundtrack, perfect for any crowd and every occasion.