Heavy Trash

Heavy Trash

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Heavy Trash, the band and the album, is a collaboration between Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray. In their day jobs they are purveyors of punk-blues in Blues Explosion and Speedball Baby, respectively. Anyone expecting their collaboration to sound much like either of their groups is in for a bit of a jolt. Not that it is a million miles from the sounds they are known for since you still get Spencer's instantly recognizable yelping vocals as well as loads of exciting, stripped-down and hooky songs that carry quite a punch. What is different is that they are working the rockabilly and early rock side of the street. Tracks like "The Loveless," "Dark Hair'd Rider" and "This Day Is Mine" kick up some serious duck-tailed dust, "The Hump" and "Justine Alright" are crazed handclapping, shouted chorus rockers, and the hip-shaking "Gatorade" sounds like it was recorded at a party in Hasil Adkins' backyard. The tracks that scale back the excitement are very good too; "Fix These Blues" is a pedal-steeled country ballad, "Take My Hand," a doo-wopping lament complete with a spoken interlude and "Under the Waves," a moody, highly arranged murder ballad that might be the best track on the album. Only "Mr. K.I.A." doesn't work, as it brings in some hip-hop influences and is too repetitive and, well, modern-sounding. Spencer is in top form throughout, dropping hilarious asides, hiccupping and whooping, crooning and howling like an unholy blend of Elvis, Gene Vincent and Lux Interior. He and Verta-Ray create a sound that is warm, rich and live, layering acoustic and electric guitars, percussion and Christina Campenella's sultry backing vocals into a rollicking, thrilling modern rockabilly record that puts everyone who has attempted such an enterprise since Songs the Lord Taught Us to shame. So many times with side projects like this the parting words are "don't quit your day job," in this case both men could easily do so because Heavy Trash is just as good if not better than their main projects.

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