Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Me-Thinks' "Mr. Dude" b/w "Rock Deaf"

We've been playing these shitty songs
Way too loud, way too long...
If you're into deafness,
We'll put you on the guest list.

The mighty Me-Thinks -- for whom I have shilled merchandise, and will again -- have always been more than they appeared.

While Ray Liberio -- with whom I've played recreationally in a "proto-punk repertory band" since 2006, and will again -- is the consummate frontman, personable to a fault, and a multi-instrumental triple-threat who also kicks the traps with Vorvon and FTW, it's hardly his show alone. Much of the Me-Thinks' concept -- their droll, self-deprecating humor (including the fake interview transcript they supplied me with after my first encounter with them, way back in 2002), stage presentation (a smoke machine! capes!), as well as their somewhat skewed marketing -- originates with guitarist/smoke machine operator/Cheap Trick fan Marlin Von Bungy. (I finally realized why Marlin doesn't use a wah-wah pedal: You can't, while standing on one leg.) And back in the early days, their secret songwriting weapon was drummer Will "Boyo" Risinger (now in exile in Arkansas), who penned lyrics and provided Brian Wilson-esque "spiritual guidance" for this new 7-incher.

The secret ingredient in the current Me-Thinks lineup, however, is Johnny Trashpockets, ex-E.T.A., who joined two years ago after his predecessor on second guitar, Mike Bandy (ex-Dragworms and Ray's original guitar teacher), departed due to health issues. (Mike's recently been back on the boards with Groom Lake Racers.) It was a move that just made sense, since Trashpockets -- a somewhat menacing rockaroll Predator onstage, as smart and funny as the rest of the cats offstage -- was a longtime friend and fan, and was already playing with Me-Thinks drummer Trucker Jon Simpson in One Fingered Fist. Stoked by his energy and enthusiasm, Fort Worth's self-styled "shittiest band" have stepped up the pace of their live activity, and produced what Boyo insists (and I concur) is their finest recorded artifact yet.

At least some of the credit here goes to Jorts Richardson (Son of Stan), who insisted on keeping the Me-Thinks away from the booth during mixing, as a result of which Ray's barrel-chested, leather-lunged vocals -- a signature strength -- are up high in the mix for the first time evah. Instrumentally, their sound has never been so well captured: hard-edged and streamlined, with a relentless forward motion worthy of Motorhead, Radio Birdman, or Machine Head-era Deep Purple.

"Mr. Dude" is a tale of high school hi-jinks that winds its way through several sections and takes its title from the nom de plume of Calvin Abucejo, Ray's fellow "art criminal" in Pussyhouse Propaganda, creators of the picture sleeve artwork (a Kiss Destroyer homage on one side, 3D wonderment on the flip) for this manhole cover-like slab of turquoise vinyl. "Rock Deaf" -- the source of the inspirational couplets up top -- is an anthem to excess in the manner of The Make Mine a Double E.P.'s "Party Boy." While that 2007 release remains the "classic" Me-Thinks, this latest document distills their essence better than any other recording.

But don't take my word for it. The release show (with the Hickoids and Duell) is skedded for Saturday, September 10th, at Lola's. You know what to do.


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