The skinny tie revolution of The Strokes, The Hives, and The Rest of the garage rock revivalists of the mid '00s threatened to permanently remove any sharp edges and abrasion of the original glue hopping madmen they admired and emulated so much. Danger and derangement was replaced with a clean, sharp fashion sense. And while so much post-punk gets described as "angular", it is more often anything but, being entirely smooth and round and predictable, a soothing stroke rather than an awakening.
Your ears perk up when Charlie Virgo sings, "I'm fucking over it/it doesn't even matter," over a rhythm guitar on the second track, "Over It", although if you're keen, you've been alert from the start, with the atona guitar in the first of "Black Night, White Heat," until Virgo comes in with his James Brown swagger. This noise is skinny - cheese grater guitars. This isn't macho, beefy, ego-puffing post-metal, or anything. It's tight, and sharp, driving ahead like a beat up Honda motorcycle.
Which is part of what makes "Over It" so strange, being a dead ringer for The Gin Blossoms' "Hey Jealousy", albeit with Sublime's rhythm section (and some glistening intricate guitar arpeggios and pizzicato Dick Dale madness). For all the revivalism going on, I still don't hear much pining for '90s alt-rock. Sure, Dinosaur Jr. have weathered the storm, and I still hear Spin Doctors' 'Two Princes' on the radio at the supermarket, from time to time (unfortunately), the call has not yet come for '90s grunge-outfitted radio rock.
But Charlie Virgo doesn't care. They're not here to suck up for favor. They're here to make awesome rock music.
This is proven further with the desert rock of "Tumbleweeds", with its chugging Kurt Hammett riffs and nods to "Dazed And Confused", while an electric organ recreates the purple sky mood of The Doors' "Riders On The Storm". It's groovy, and sprawling, mysterious and slow burning, building up to dust devil frenzy at times. Not only do they skip eras, they dodge geographical regions as well, from Boston-ian college rock to the American Southwest, in the span of four minutes.
I would like to pause for a moment and sing the praises of the drummer, who's name I can't find at the moment, who plays a major part in keeping this record driving. He plays on the edge of his seat, fast and furious and precise, equal parts punk and jazz. He's got a light snap on the heads, and it serves the whip-razor guitars well.
Charlie Virgo's bio claims that "This one is for tattooed freaks & losers who aren't going to spin a dean martin record in the bedroom... or more likely trashed living room... while they get it on on the couch." This is probably true, and would serve just fine for this purpose, but I think he's selling himself short. These songs are sharp and smart and rocking but still passionate, better than 97% of the so called garage rock you hear these days. Cosmopolitans and elitists will dig on this, too.
And it also goes to show that a lot of us, down in the dregs, are smart and focused and driven and have great taste, living in our squalor. We prop up our coffee table with Nabokov novels, and stay up late, getting bent, and hashing out colonialism. What you're left with is a cross-section, who are incredibly talented and diligent, as well as hungry and driven. The underground is serving as crucible and particle accelerator. We remain unimpressed with less, throwing sacred cows in the fire, to escape velocity, and crack the glass ceiling.
On his website, Charlie Virgo's bio reads simply, "Charlie Virgo is evil". I think it's time we re-assess what that means. Virgo may be sarcastic, somewhat mean spirited at times, eager and impatient, but he encourages us to think with our guts. And our hips. To do things that don't make sense, and don't listen to other people.
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