I’m pretty sure I can count the number of new albums I heard in 2009 on one hand. Of course, that hand has 6 fingers, but given my love of carnies that’s more positive than negative. So yeah, I got that going for me. Also, despite this dearth of new material, I’m saved by having impeccable listening tastes. I don’t hear much, but what I do hear usually kicks ass. What can I say? I’m just a vessel through which awesome flows.
As it turns out, awesome also flows — and in far greater quantities, I might add — through the veins of Greg Cartwright, boss hoss of The Reigning Sound. Their ’09 release is called Love And Curses and if you like ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, the British Invasion, first-wave punk rock, and girl group pop this is one of your favorite bands whether you realize it or not. After all, isn’t that formula a large part of what made The Ramones special? And who doesn’t like The Ramones?!?! Jerks, that’s who. Granted, I’m not sure why James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins is on the album cover, but I’m certain there’s a very good explanation. That’s how much I trust Cartwright’s musical acumen.
Speaking of said acumen, while The Reigning Sound share a common lineage with Da Bruddahs, Cartwright’s songs tend to be more melodic, less amphetamine-y, and by and large, far more earnest lyrically. Not cloyingly earnest, like he’s thumbing through the Morrissey songbook, but there’s no getting around it. Dude likes writing about heartbreak. In fact, my recent foray into The Pretenders catalog got me thinking that what I love about Cartwright’s songwriting is what I love about Chrissie Hynde‘s songwriting. Even when the tunes make you wanna Kool-Aid Man through the garage door, a sweet pop hook is seemingly poised to impale you through the chest.
Incidentally, Cartwright (pictured above) helmed the equally garage-minded (and top shelf) Oblivians and Compulsive Gamblers and in September released an acoustic overview of his entire career. I hope more of this man’s prolific output appears in future editions of The Adios Lounge. We’ll see. First things first.
Reigning Sound – Is It True?
I have a favor to ask. If I ever stop enjoying these kinds of songs please kill me. Seriously, you’ll be doing me a favor.
Reigning Sound – Stick Up For Me
Don’t you think that the millions
Are gettin’ tired of being governed by so few
They’ll send you out to fight their war while they
Stay at home to control you.”
An obscure Vietnam War-era song by Michigan’s Glass Sun, “Stick Up” is a righteous slab of working class proto-punk. A blend of Stax Records and MC5, I think the arrangement also serves as a bridge to The Reigning Sound’s British Invasion roots. Specifically, this underrated gem:
Rolling Stones – All Sold Out (1967)
Yes, I did just call a Rolling Stones song underrated. I’ll go one step further and say that Between The Buttons — from which “All Sold Out” is culled — is not only the Stones most underrated album, but one of the most underrated albums from this era. The last gasp of the Brian Jones era, Buttons has several subterranean classics (“Connection,” “Miss Amanda Jones,” “Complicated,” and on the superior US version, the “Let’s Spend The Night Together” b/w “Ruby Tuesday” single).
Reigning Sound – Polly Anne
What’s that, you’re curious if Cartwright can slow it down and bring a little folk-rock introspection to the party? Done and done. This is a cryptic number about a daddy’s girl living on the street. I don’t know who this chick is, why she has a pocketknife and a hole in her heart, but I’m rooting for her. Why? Because of good songwriting, that’s why.
If I haven’t convinced you of The Reigning Sound’s greatness by this point, there’s no hope for you. I’m afraid it’s pistols at dawn. Only my pistol is shaped like a Gretsch and shoots tequila bullets. For everyone else, here’s the band at Gonerfest 2 in Memphis kicking out the jams. Word.
Reigning Sound – Bad Man
GET YER SOUND ON