Monday, August 10th, 2009 | musiX
Years before garage rock moved to the dorm room, bands like The Gories, The Mummies, The Oblivians and countless others were carrying the torch, making strange and primitive noise underground … wait a minute, did they save rock ‘n’ roll? The Oblivians lasted about as long as any band of that ilk should, and disbanded in 1998 after five years (although they are back together playing dates). Greg Cartwright went on to form Reigning Sound soon after, a band that dipped as much into musty garages as it did deep into the soul of Memphis R&B. I’ve doted on the band tirelessly, Cartwright in particular—to my friends, on this blog, in my column, year-end lists … on this blog again. Maybe they saved rock ‘n’ roll for me.
Cartwright is from another time—it’s unlikely he’s ever listened to The Strokes, or even Black Lips. But he has listened to The Counts and The Guillotines and Glass Sun. In fact Reigning Sound’s cover of the Glass Sun banger “Stick Up For Me” is the tune that immediately grabbed me off their latest Love and Curses, the band’s first platter of new material in five years. It doesn’t quite match up to Break Up, Break Down and Time Bomb High School, both more refined albums that captured the tenderness of early Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. Love and Curses is essentially Reigning Sound live—sweatier, grittier, not quite as sweet. Although Cartwright has his moments, most notably in “The Bells” and “Something to Hold Onto,” where his venomous rasp gives way to grievous croon and Dave Amels’ organ swirls between the guitars.
I’m still soaking it in, but I keep going back to that Glass Sun cover. I’ve actually decided that from now on when someone asks what kind of music I listen to I’m just going to strap headphones to their skull and let the song play. I hope that doesn’t make things awkward.
“Stick Up For Me” – Reigning Sound
“Something to Hold Onto” – Reigning Sound