Subsonics: Follow Me Down

Subsonics: Follow Me Down

Subsonics: Follow Me Down
Label: Get Hip
Release Date: 1997
Review Date: 2000

First off, Subsonics are not to be confused with the lameness that currently calls itself “the Supersonics.” I took a chance on Subsonics and went to see them live based solely on a photograph in the paper. The combination of the shot and band name was so intriguing that I had to go. Though not exactly what I expected, Subsonics turned out to be pure rock ‘n roll. I shelled out a couple of fins for a cd and had a quick chat with the lead singer/guitar player Clay Reed. I was excited to discover a new band but felt like an out of touch jackass when he told me they had been around for seven years on and off. Further research on the band revealed that they hail from Georgia. Every review that you’re going to read is going to tell you two things, The lead singer weighs 90 pounds and they sound like Lou Reed meets the Cramps. In my thesis, I’ll attempt to address these two points while explaining the clinical benefits of Subsonics at the same time.

It is entirely possible that Clay does indeed weigh 90 pounds. He is one skinny mofo. On stage he wrapped himself around the mic like a piglet sucking on a teat. On the night in question he was sporting a zebra-skin catsuit that was undoubtedly purchased from Frederick’s of Hollywood. He plays his hollow body frugally, with controlled bursts of intensity. As for the rest of the band, the uniform is gold or silver lame pants and black tops for the ladies. Christy Montero graces the electric bass while Buffi Aguero stands behind the minimal drum kit ocasionally adding some girlish background vocals or a song intro. Comparisons to the Cramps are therefore understandable, but don’t take them for copycats. They play similar musical styles (in the earliest phase) and there is some lyrical crossover with the Lux’s mildest psychosis. People say that Clay sounds like a young Lou Reed. I’d lean more towards Buddy Holly and the Cramps. They also remind me a lot of the late talents the Farmers from Chicago. The Farmers had a similar instrumental line up with two guitars and no bass. Seeing the Farmers live left you with a real sense of how exciting basic rock and roll could be when played from the heart. You don’t need distortion, a rack of effects, or anything larger than a 3 piece drum kit.

It’s a pleasant surprise when a cd lives up to a memory of a good show. Unfortunately, the Farmers were never able to effectively capture the raw quirky energy of the live shows onto vinyl. “Follow Me Down” is entirely successful for Subsonics, which is tough for band whose sound is admittedly low-fi. Pretty Pills sets the pace right from the start. From then on the only disappointment is that you don’t hear any more backing vocals on the rest of the tracks. Frankenstein will make you forget your woes with a killer guitar hook and lines like “My name is Frankenstein. I was not baptized. I broke all the Ten Commandments and it felt just fine.” Other favorites include Disintegrate, Night on a String, Wee Wee Hours, and Ten Dollars. You’ll do anything for ten dollars, and that’s all you have to pay for Follow Me Down if you catch Subsonics live. Subsonics enthusiasm for unpretentious rock and roll comes across the same way that the Ramones loved music. Do yourself a favor and check out this gem.

Follow Me Down: 9 out of 10.

Track Listing
1.Pretty Pills
2.You’re Gonna Get A Big Surprise
3.Frankenstein
4.Dirty People
5.I Think You Like It
6.Follow Me Down
7.Iceman
8.Disintegrate
9.Pistol
10.Cruel Is The Night
11.Night On A String
12.Hey Jungle
13.Wee Wee Hours
14.I’ll All Come Back To Haunt You
15.Change Their Places
16.Ten Dollars

Online Action: gethip.com
Snail Mail: Get Hip, Inc. Columbus & Preble Aves, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

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