Hot Snakes first formed in 1999 and ran until 2005. They re-formed in 2011 for some tours and finally bring the rock in the new album Jericho Sirens, released in early 2018. For those unfamiliar with the group, members also play in Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Obits, The Night Marchers, and more. There’s a familiar overlap in style between all these groups, but in Hot Snakes, it comes together in the form of rollicking guitar-fueled rock. It brings the hooks, the aggression, and the attitude, but minus the dress-up. As Rick Froberg belts in “Six Wave Hold-Down,” “You get no points for style.”
Like most Froberg/John Reis-related projects, the louder it’s played the better. My first few listens over headphones in a cubicle really didn’t move me, as compared to blasting this on a proper sound system. It’s a very full sound that’s deceptively dense: meaning it’s not prog-level nuance and progression, but every note and beat serves a distinct purpose. Hot Snakes’ songs always push the energy forward, but they also build up to a big point, best on display in the titular “Jericho Sirens.” It’s not as blunt, lyrically, as The Night Marchers, but Hot Snakes showcase the Rolling Stones-style revelrous side of rock ‘n’ roll, letting an unspoken lewdness fuel and burn the memorable jams. Other standouts are the punchy “Death Camp Fantasy” and “Death Doula,” which I can’t help but stop to praise the amazing lyric, “I don’t like your face!”
The guitars do most of the talking throughout the record. There’s a subtle surf influence at work, but instead of the fluid and meandering tone of that genre, this captures the choppy aspect of being at sea: finding the current and riding it out but with some rough bumps along the way that make the ride more fun. Ultimately, Hot Snakes are a classic rock ‘n’ roll band, with lyricism to match that primal intensity. Rock music keeps cycling through new styles and spinoffs, but there’s a reason why everything comes back to this style. Hot Snakes have it down pat, fitting into the modern era while encompassing what made it a genre in the first place. Play it loud and on the open highway.
8.4 / 10
Last fall rock lost one of its true visionaries. John Peel was responsible for introducing the UK to acts like Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, The Smiths, The Undertones, Nirvana, ...
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