Thursday, September 20, 2007

Voodoo Glow Skulls, "Southern California Street Music," review

Southern California Street Music
Voodoo Glow Skulls
Victory Records
Available now

Let’s get one thing straight here, people: Voodoo Glow Skulls are not here to challenge your perception of what music is or should be, to make you step outside of your little tonal bubble and get sideswiped by distorted jazz scales played at 300 miles per hour, and they are DEFINITELY not here to revolutionize a damn thing.

Basically, the Casillas brothers and company just want you to smoke a blunt, knock back a 40 and have some fun.

It’s difficult, however, to simply throw Southern California Street Music on the stereo and contentedly allow it to be nothing more than roughly 45 minutes of background music. There’s a punk history lesson embedded in the work of VGS, and if you expend the same amount of energy it takes the average person to dissect two minutes of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” a vastly more knowledgeable listener will you become, young padowan.

Most songs on Street Music follow the same basic formula: three-to-five chords, atonally shouted vocals, steady snare/kick beats, and horn parts (trombone and sax) providing little ska flourishes throughout. The majority of the tracks exhibit the guys’ sense of humor; “Say Hello to My Little Friend,” and “Home is Where the Heart(ache) Is,” are prime examples. There are a couple of serious ones here as well, but the real treasure is “The Ballad of Froggy McNasty,” a three-minute tragicomedy that plays like Flogging Molly lost in the barrio.

And can I just say, Eddie Casillas is probably the most underrated punk guitarist since East Bay Ray? There, I wrote you a couplet.

Like I said, this isn’t the kind of thing to expedite your thought process, but VGS’s high-octane, booze-fueled concoction of ska and hardcore is one of the more fun records to come along this year. Kind of like a shotgun firing jellybeans. I think.

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