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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Get Submerged with Urge Overkill's Rock & Roll Submarine

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2011 at 2:46 PM

This week: Get submerged with Urge Overkill's Rock & Roll Submarine.


Behind the buzz: In rock lore, Urge Overkill is said to have faltered in a bid to take over the '90s rock scene at its alt-sodden peak. It must be a real three-fisted bitch to be best known for what you didn't accomplish, but the band did manage to contribute five exemplary hard rock albums back when the whole rockist enterprise looked nearly fit to die of grungy ennui. UO broke up 15 years ago, shortly after 1995's appropriately titled Exit the Dragon failed to capitalize on the spotlight moment Quentin Tarantino handed their delirious cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" (an especially memorable scene in the director's breakthrough movie, Pulp Fiction). These Chicago hellions have been playing on-and-off since 2004, with one recent gig being last December's Friars' Club roast of the Pulp Fiction auteur. Rock & Roll Submarine shows mainmen Nash Kato and Eddie "King" Roeser determined to resurface precisely at the point the band went under for the first time.

Today's weed: A powerful indica with the ungainly name of Urkle. Subtle stuff with the blowback effect of rice wine or rye whiskey.

Party like it's 1995: "Mason/Dixon," the opening track, is a burn-down-the-joint rocker chewed off with the same cool ferocity as the band's later releases on Geffen, with the bracing "Let's go to war" chorus kicking off a crazy Pickett's Charge of a set. The title track is like some lost mid-'70s Rolling Stones album track. "Effigy," released last October, is on par with anything from its last two major-label outings, where the band finally got the exposure its big, nasty sound deserved. "Poison Flower" and "Little Vice" continue the familiar classic rock arc of its old records, with the slower, more complex "Thought Balloon" coming in at the precisely calibrated moment for a little introspection. "Quiet Person" extends the mood, and "She's My Ride" dispels it with a propulsive barroom ballad about yet another pretty face. "End of Story" and "The Valiant" are as close to countrified balladry as these guys get, with the harmonies on the latter recalling older wheatfield soul like the Guess Who. "Niteliner" is a blistering rocker built around a thunderous Sweet-like riff that collides abruptly into "Touched to a Cut," a finale that not so much ends the album as hustles it to a close.

Psychoactive verdict: An album almost making up for the fact that Urge Overkill will be passing the Bay Area by on its tour in support of this album. Quelle bummer.

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