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The Hot Snakes – Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Posted by December 8th, 2004 No Comments »

The Hot Snakes are better than your favorite band.Album Review
Hot Snakes – Audit in Progress
Swami Records
By Graham Isaac

On his band’s first album, Automatic Midnight, Hot Snakes singer Rick Froberg snarled, “If credit’s what matters, I’ll take credit.” If he’s referring to bank accounts, I can’t speak for him, but if he’s talking about the elusive sort of favor bestowed upon rock and rollers with “cred,” he can’t be hurting that bad.

Together with guitarist John Reis, Froberg helmed Drive Like Jehu, probably the most influential post punk outfit of the early ’90s that wasn’t already selling out and waving flannels on MTV. Reis then went on to the almost equally revered Rocket From the Crypt. The two re-united for, what in 2000 was supposed to be a one-off deal, Hot Snakes. Turns out that Hot Snakes may end up being as important to the ’00s as Jehu were to their decade.


The Hot Snakes are better than your favorite band.Album Review
Hot Snakes – Audit in Progress
Swami Records
By Graham Isaac

On his band’s first album, Automatic Midnight, Hot Snakes singer Rick Froberg snarled, “If credit’s what matters, I’ll take credit.” If he’s referring to bank accounts, I can’t speak for him, but if he’s talking about the elusive sort of favor bestowed upon rock and rollers with “cred,” he can’t be hurting that bad.

Together with guitarist John Reis, Froberg helmed Drive Like Jehu, probably the most influential post punk outfit of the early ’90s that wasn’t already selling out and waving flannels on MTV. Reis then went on to the almost equally revered Rocket From the Crypt. The two re-united for, what in 2000 was supposed to be a one-off deal, Hot Snakes. Turns out that Hot Snakes may end up being as important to the ’00s as Jehu were to their decade.

This is all stratified by Audit in Progress, the Snake’s latest, which ups things a notch from 2002’s Suicide Invoice.

The disc kicks off with “Braintrust,” a barrage of slamming drums, dense downstroking guitars and urgently hostile vocals. “Don’t go to Harvard/don’t go to Yale/your disposition will only make you fail” Froberg advises before kicking in the chorus, a harmonized chant as aggressive as it is hooky.

This is par for the course; Audit in Progress is a relentless assault that doesn’t slow down until “This Mystic Decade,” a mid-tempo number that falls eight tracks in and would hardly be considered a break on most albums.

While many bands may attempt this sort of attack, it often feels repetitive in the hands of amateurs. Fortunately, Reis and Froberg know what they’re doing. The strength of songwriting and sheer mean energy carries this album.

Froberg’s lyrics take swipes at everyday life, imbuing a sense of menace into otherwise daily affairs. “Think About Carbs” looks at the diet craze, while “Lovebirds’” refrain of “so lucky/so lucky in love” is underscored with a macabre organ riff.

After all this, “Plenty For All” is a refreshing closer, with it’s surprisingly catchy guitar line and hooky vocals making for a song that borders on pop, if it weren’t for the pounding backbeat.

While it may be too soon to tell if this is the Hot Snake’s best album, it’s a solid listen from start to finish. So far they’re three for three.

The Hot Snakes have thrown down the gauntlet, let another band match it. – (9.5/10)


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