Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I Blame You is the debut album by Obits, a quartet led by Rick Froberg (whose name is usually followed in parentheses by the words Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes; less frequently by the names of his earlier bands, Pitchfork and Tanner). It's a great record. Standouts (for me) are "Talking to the Dog" and "Fake Kincaid" (which I misheard as "Vacant Cave").

Froberg has been widely quoted as saying, “I think innovation is overrated and an overestimated quality. Anything that’s going to be original is going to happen without your control. Things that make your band sound like you, are things you wouldn’t be able to change anyway. We (Obits) just go ahead and play the stuff we like, and we don’t worry about originality per se, because that takes care of itself.” It's an interesting perspective. What makes Obits different from other guitar/bass/drum bands? What makes them any better or worse than Hot Snakes?

Froberg's voice is one feature shared by the two bands, as well as his unique lyrical perspective and his visual art (seen on the covers of I Blame You and the Hot Snakes' three albums). He sings with a gritty snarl that brings to mind garage bands of the 1960's such as the Seeds, the Chocolate Watchband, and the Standells. While the Hot Snakes' songs were packed tight with tension and a wall of furious strumming, there is more sonic space between the instruments in Obits' music, and a touch of reverb that adds to the 60's impression. The band stretches out a bit in the instrumental passages, particularly on their cover of "Milk Cow Blues" (a song from the 30's that has been covered by the Kinks and the Chocolate Watchband, as well as Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley, and dozens of other artists).

The choice of "Milk Cow Blues" reminded me of Richard Hell's cover of an early Kinks tune, You Gotta Move (not to be confused with the blues song originated by Mississippi Fred McDowell), on the Voidoids' second album. Listen to Robert Quine tear it up on guitar, as Richard Hell drops single-note bombs on the bass (from the 1982 album Destiny Street, which is out of print). Quine took his own life on May 31, 2004.


At 3/25/2009 8:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song you have posted at the "Gotta Move" link isn't "Gotta Move" unfortunately!

At 3/25/2009 8:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

SORRY! Don't know why some other song played the first time for me. Doubtless my fault. The "Gotta Move" link seems fine...

At 4/06/2009 10:50 AM , Blogger jonder said...

Divshare can be kinda wonky sometimes. Glad you got the right song.


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