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The New Lou Reeds
Hits Songs
Exit Stencil Records
www.newloureeds.com


There's nothing wrong with a formula when the formula works. In the great garage-psych-punk tradition of The Stooges and The MC5, The New Lou Reeds have created a 7-song masterpiece with their 30-some-odd-minute album Hit Songs. The album opens with what should become a classic garage-rock line, "I'm drunk as fuck / I've got a bad attitude and terrible luck." With this no-holds-barred introduction, "Headed For A Felony" sets the tone for the songs to come. The bluesy, "(I'm Clearly) Rockin' Too Hard For You" proceeds to whine about the band's lack of success, throwing barbs at everyone from trendy bands, disinterested club-goers and Pitchfork. It's everything a snotty-nosed bitch-fest should be.

I'm no fan of odes to rock and roll, but when The New Lou Reeds stomp out their own interpretation of rock's illustrious history in "Older Than Dirt", I can't help but smile. Tracing rock's roots from the caveman, through time to modern days and (of course) the music of The New Lou Reeds, "Older Than Dirt" is an entertaining take on a classic theme. Simultaneously, the crown jewel and the coup de grâce of Hit Songs is the 13-minute-plus rendition of "The Mainframe (Is Coming Down)". What begins as a call to arms, railing against the proverbial machine, entertains in its own right but at the 4 minute mark it blows up into an 8 minute instrumental psyche-out. The move comes totally unexpected at the end of what is otherwise a series of very economical songs. What's even more surprising is that they pull it off. It comes off as neither a self-indulgent excursion nor a wanky punk-rock space filler. This instrumental tells a story of its own, building and releasing, carrying a theme, just like a good rock instrumental should.

With "Hit Songs", The New Lou Reeds ride a wave of self-destruction; always on the edge of complete disaster but managing to keep their balance and pull back from the edge just before things fall apart completely.

-George Dow

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