The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Black Flag, The Byrds, The Ramones, The Shangri-las…you can hear snippets of all those fine musical outfits in this, the first new Redd Kross album since 1997. California-brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald (who have been playing together since the late 70s) have re-teamed with guitarist Robert Hecker and drummer Roy McDonald (no relation), to revive the “classic” mid-80s Redd Kross line-up that recorded Neurotica.
The title track kicks things off and proves that the band is back with a vengeance. Their garage-punk roots are in full view as Hecker’s guitar riff plows through the song like a pile driver. These guys may be older, but they haven’t forgotten how to rock.
Stay Away From Downtown finds the band getting in touch with their more melodic side. The result is classic 70s power-pop, complete with a chorus of “sha-la-las”.
Uglier, written by the McDonald brothers and their respective spouses (Go Go’s Charlotte Caffey and singer Anna Waronker) boasts a stinging guitar line and a brief lyrical tribute to The Shangri-las.
Despite its title, Dracula’s Daughter is a jangly, dreamy pop ballad and Meet Frankenstein revs up the power-pop side of things once more.
Later in the game, the band shows off their love for The Beatles, and specifically George Harrison, in Choose To Play…a tougher tune that features some fine slide guitar playing. The whole thing ends on a wonky note with Hazel Eyes…featuring strong harmonies and a goofy sample that eventually brings the song and the album crashing to a glorious end.
I was a fan of Redd Kross back in the early 90s, when they scored a minor hit with Jimmy’s Fantasy off their Phaseshifter album, but had pretty much forgotten about them since then. Not only is Researching The Blues an excellent reminder of what a rockin’ band Redd Kross were, but it also proves that there’s still plenty of life left in them.
Click here to listen to Stay Away From Downtown from Researching The Blues: