MONSTERS OVER PLANS
Whiskey of the Damned: Monsters Are Real (Avid Agency)
Jimmer: The Would Be Plans (The Chief Injustice)
By Brian Arsenault
About the time I wanted to abuse that humorless bastard Nietsche by saying the god of my generation — Rock Music — is dead, damned if new life isn’t breathed into it.
Such is the case with the raging Celtic rock interspersed with melodic ramblings from Whiskey of the Damned’s Monsters Are Real.
Right out of the gate the seeming IRA sensibility of the opening ballad bars of “Batons and Guns” explodes into a frantic pace. Dance till you lose your breath. “Oh yeah,” your rock ‘n’ roll soul goes, there’s life yet.
Here you get your first taste of Gina Romantini’s blazing violin. She must be Irish by osmosis with Italian-American passion underlying all. This may be the best rock violin ever.
Eoin (pronounced Owen for us Yanks) McCarthy’s singing here and elsewhere is oddly comforting and welcoming while screaming out on the edge. McCarthy is, though Dublin born, a Yank himself. I mean Wisconsin-,raised for heaven’s sake. The band met up in Milwaukee.
The two are just as fine together on a much softer number, “The Unknown,” two tracks later. In true Celtic style, this band can touch what aches as well as what’s angry.
“. . . just kids, mistakes is what we did.”
Romantini’s violin trades leads with McCarthy’s singing as the band moves comfortably from electric to acoustic.
Earlier it was listening to Jimmer’s The Would-Be Plans that had me in sort of a funk about the state of rock.
Oh, it wasn’t that the musicianship wasn’t strong. Or that Jimmer’s singing wasn’t ok. It just seemed that the former Rave-Ups front man hadn’t had a new idea in the two decades plus since his last album.
He reached way back. Surprised he didn’t run into Mr. Peabody. Not back to the days when the Rave-Ups were the psychic and sometimes the real house band for the Brat Pack. No, no much further back.
Much of this album seems musically to be Beatles as filtered through the Monkees filtered through the Birds or some sequence thereof, Bob Dylan harmonica as filtered through Neil Young. Not tribute so much as imitative except when trying to go country. Well, Dwight “pants too tight” Yoakam’s producer oversaw production.
A number of old rockers have gone country in an attempt to pander or stay relevant. It’s not a pretty sight.
But back to The Damned. More mad Irish passion on “Thumpkeg” where I continued to worry that Andrew David Weber might be one of those crazed drummers not long for this world. Started worrying around “Good Rat.”
Take a deep breath, Weber, yoga or something. Therapy won’t help. Probably make things worse so “Burn Your Suicide Notes.”
Late in the album, on “Maria” and “When It All Comes Down” we get back to sensitivity and ballad pacing and Gina gets to sing lead a little on the latter.
We get closed out with an invitation to drink all night. All sing on the way out the door.
But hey, don’t get me wrong. There’s some good stuff on Jimmer’s album.
The title song is a winner and the album’s first real rocker. Unfortunately it’s virtually the last rocker as well. “[She Has] Good Records” is light, pop-like enjoyable fare followed by the pleasing country rock style on “Satellite.” I just couldn’t help thinking at this point that the album was all “B” sides for those of you who remember what that meant. The rest can guess.
A neat Eagles-like song (if you’re gonna go country that’s the way to go) “With This Ring” comes too late. Neat, though, with even a small touch of Roy Orbison.
* * * * * * * *
To read more posts, reviews and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.