PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Hot Lunch: Hot Lunch

Another gang of regurgitative rock revivalists, this San Francisco troupe tries to be more than simply palatable but ultimately makes the case to bring one’s lunch from home.

Hot Lunch

Hot Lunch

Label: Tee Pee
US Release Date: 2013-03-12
Label Website
Artist Website

Recent years have left absolutely no one wanting for the sounds of classic rock. Scores of new artists looking to revisit and relive the hard stoned sounds of the late '60s and 70s continue to emerge fully formed on niche independent imprints like Small Stone and Tee Pee as well as broader metal labels such as Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast. Their influences are a Sunday newspaper word jumble of evocative band names like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Crazy Horse, Deep Purple, Free, Led Zeppelin, Stooges, Thin Lizzy, and on and on in that manner. The arrival of this steady wave of dope-smoking, paganism-peddling revival rockers serves as a countervailing force against the present state of major label hard rock, symbolized by amphitheater seat fillers like Daughtry and Nickelback. Despite the familiar charges continually levied against those latter acts, at least their music resonates with something beyond satisfying a mere nostalgic twinge, something that many of these fresh beardos are too young to even legitimately experience.

We can almost forgive the Nordic countries for their part in all of this, given a long history with fetishization. Indeed, Graveyard and Witchcraft -- two sides of the same Swedish krona -- have made particularly entertaining records mining the past with occult flair. Frequently compared to Blue Oyster Cult, the shadowy Scandinavians of Ghost B.C. seem preoccupied with stateside rock and schlock Satanism like so many European acts before them. By contrast, much of the American output from this new wave have consumed themselves so much with aping a dead sound that their execution begets lifelessness. Regional bonafides often add some vitality to the faithful regurgitations, but much like the current slew of sludge metal acts, memorable material remains scarce. While there are a fair number of exceptional acts circling the lower forty-eight, Hot Lunch simply is not one of them.

In spite of themselves, the San Francisco act does whip up a decent heady protopunk blues on its self-titled debut. Surely, that tradition and the stubborn present state of their freewheelin’ hometown matches the record’s grimy old tone. Yet nowhere on Hot Lunch does songcraft move beyond rote emulation of the grizzled hard rock gods, unsung or otherwise. Of course, once expectations are lowered there’s a handful of laid back burners and skate rock jams. The band have a firm handle on the short-and-sweet cuts, with “You’re Alright” and “She Wants More” succinctly summing up its strengths. “Killer Smile” actually soars through fuzzed out wah pedal boogie and the sort of unbridled sexually charged fury that Wolfmother once tried so hard to bottle.

It’s after the three-and-a-half minute mark that patience wears thin, with noodly divertissements on tracks like “Ripped At The Seam” and “Tragedy Prevention” poor attempts to mask non-starter verses and choruses. Outright misses are rare, though still present. “Lady Of The Lake” reeks of self-parody, with a female spoken word recitation that’s hard not to chuckle over. At nearly eight minutes in length and situated some five songs in, it’s the most glaring example of the rock caricature the band can’t seem to write its way out of.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.


Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.


'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.


ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.