The Fuzz

The Fuzz

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Harlan T. Bobo is a thoughtful, literate, and musically omnivorous singer and songwriter from Memphis who specializes in writing about the joys and sorrows of love and relationships. However, it seems Harlan has an alter ego, Hector Bobo, who has no interest in being as high-flown and eloquent as the man who shares his frame, and Hector has decided to let the punk rocker inside him come out with his new band, the Fuzz. While Harlan's records are usually recorded and arranged with care, the Fuzz play fast and cranky old-school punk rock leavened with garage rock accents and enough bursts of pure noise that you might briefly confuse these guys with Ty Segall's band with the same moniker, and the production is powerful but raw, with no frills and all the buzzes, slurs, and goofs left in for seasoning. But a careful listen leaves little doubt that Harlan and Hector are indeed the same guy, and with similar concerns -- the country-leaning "Cold Stares" suggests a mordant variation on Bobo's tales of busted romances, "Merry-Go-Round" is hilariously dismissive of lazy do-nothing bohemians ("Doesn't anybody work anymore?"), and "When I Die" is three minutes of lo-fi philosophizing about the realities of the afterlife. While the Fuzz play fast and loose with this music, the band's performances are admirably tight compared to their Memphis garage punk peers, and guitarist Jeff "Bunny" Dutton, drummer Tom Jones, and bassist Steve Selvidge show these guys know how to rock while respecting the finer points of Bobo's melodies. (And the Dead Moon cover is a nice touch.) The Fuzz isn't going to take the place of the next Harlan T. Bobo album in the hearts of his fans, but it's a credible and satisfying side trip into raucous rock & roll that confirms Hector has just as much to say as Harlan, and can make a fine album on his own terms. Points added for Hector's impressive mask collection.

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