Two of Seattle’s hardest rocking bands celebrated the release of new material Friday at Neumos with a throbbing wall of sound that’s likely still got some ears ringing.
Hobosexual and Fox and the Law both have new albums out. “Hobosexual II” fits the duo’s M.O. perfectly. It’s a concept album set in the year 2071 that tells the story of a BMX biker gang (the Sex Destroyers) but all that is just an excuse for a furious barrage of guitarist and singer Ben Harwood’s slick, overpowering riffs and Jeff Silva’s thundering drums.
On Friday, Hobosexual used the heavy, slow-rolling blues-metal of “The Creep” to get things started. A standout track from “Hobosexual II,” it had just the right kind of menace to set the tone for the band’s set.
Another killer track from the new album, “BMX,” is a refined piece of rock storytelling on the album, but live it became something altogether more intense — the kind of head-banging, fist-pumping song that made you glad to have some hair to thrash around.
Hobosexual finished out their seven-song set with “Mechagodmothra,” another song that lost its subtlety when its insistent riffs blasted out through Harwood’s two Marshall stacks.
Overkill? Maybe, but isn’t that kind of the point of rock and roll? Still, the intensity of their set limited them to just seven songs lest they destroy the audience’s eardrums before Fox and the Law could take the stage. Check out Hobosexual’s excellent sophomore release for the rest of the Sex Destroyers’ story, but just remember to turn the volume up.
Fox and the Law’s album “Empty Cases” is similarly rocking, and so was their set. Admittedly I didn’t catch the order of the songs they played but allow me to offer some thoughts on their album, which is a can’t-miss release for fans of garage-rock blues.
The album falls into a relatively relaxed mid-tempo groove with its first track, “Innocence,” but it’s a red herring. By the time the first notes of the second tune “Easy Rider,” it’s obvious that Fox and the Law intend to melt some faces with their dual-guitar attack.
While “Empty Cases” is full of heavy riffs and explosive solos, singer Guy Keltner manages to hold his own amid the wash of sound. Keltner ends up sounding like a fuzzed out, angry version of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas and it works just as well when he’s under control on the record or nearly screaming to make himself heard live.
If there’s a criticism for Fox and the Law, it’s that their album doesn’t sound very diverse. The garage-rock fuzz is pervasive and some of the songs don’t do enough to distinguish themselves. Still, that is a minor complaint. These guys play actual, honest to goodness rock music.
That’s enough for me.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails