Snake Boy

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If Intellectuals are the Shoeshine Boys was a great debut, Snakeboy made the world of Killdozer seem even more out there, more lyrically and musically intense and focused, not to mention even more funny. The freaked-out imagery of a heartland ridden with pissed-off drunks and weirdos always gets leavened with a knowing but dry as dust humor -- anyone who thought Will Oldham invented that approach needs to check this out. Working with Steve Erickson, Butch Vig returns on production and gets a deeper sound out of Gerald's bass and more space in the mix, heightening the nervous tension in a lot of the songs (Killdozer's sharpest move in the end might be how well it disguises its musical abilities with its rampaging hick image). "Going to the Beach" might only be about a kid's vacation fantasy, but the evil drone guitars from Bill Hobson and the rhythm section's relentless, brutal punch (guest percussion from Robin Davies adding to the madness) make for something else again. Then there's the honking ghost of Chicago electric blues on downers that makes up "Don't Cry" -- great stuff, even if it's about how "older women...make beautiful lovers," right down to the bedpan. Check out Hobson's mind-bending solo on "Live Your Life Like You Don't Exist" or the death-march demolition of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," the next in the band's string of snarling remakes, for more examples of how well the group plays. The hilarious "King of Sex" kicks everything off, about a strutting stud-in-his-own-mind from "the mighty and glorious state of Texas," with backing female vocals from the "Love of Mike Orchestra" adding to the perverse hilarity of the whole song. Anyone taking it seriously needs their head examined, but, then again, that would presume taking Killdozer at face value to begin with -- not necessarily the best critical stance.

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