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Redd Kross - 2012 Researching The Blues

ARTIST: Redd Kross
ALBUM: Researching The Blues
LABEL: Sweet Nothing, Merge
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Jeff McDonald - vocals, guitars * Steven McDonald - bass, vocals * Ray McDonald - drums * Robert Hecker - guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Researching The Blues * 02 Stay Away From Downtown * 03 Uglier * 04 Dracula's Daughters * 05 Meet Frankenstein * 06 One Of The Good Guys * 07 The Nu Temptations * 08 Choose To Play * 09 Winter Blues * 10 Hazel Eyes


Recently I provided George with a weedy excuse that I thought my Elvis Costello article of 'Armed Forces' should find a place at GDM because basically I said it was all tied up in the power pop genre. Ok I might had twisted the truth a touch (I have been married for over 18 years so I am used to coming up with hare-brain excuses for my actions) but when we are talking total power pop, or pure undiluted power pop then this group are pretty close to the top of the cup. So close in fact that if you lift the lid, the bubbles will go pop, this is the reaction is to be found with Redd Kross. Over the next couple of articles I am picking the first defining moment being 'Third Eye' from 1990 and their recent resurrection from 2012, and believe me don't ask them to research anything, because thankfully there is not a blue note in sight here. After quite a lengthy layoff the boys returned in 2012 and created the same focus and obsession that lay central to the heart of tracks from 'Third Eye'.

The Songs
The title track is a compact, brilliant pop song and in just little over 3 minutes they encompass every gory detail of what is the Redd Kross flavour. Instantly gratifying, immediately memorable, when I first heard it, it felt like reopening the 'Third Eye' can of songs. Even better, yes its possible, is 'Stay Away From Downtown', the sheer arrogance is impressive. Song writing can be so easy, like scoring goals, just plain and simple when it is this pure, maximum secured power pop. A touch of the Aerosmith wailing sirens add to the darker 'Uglier', granted not as instantly attractive, but a strong number 3, still a very important position over the course of an album, and it's no soppy ballad. The lighter texture of 'Dracula's Daughter' works just as well. A wavy haircut of a song, free flowing in the wind, but still slightly untidy, but freedom is important. Talking about groovy haircuts, The Beatles is stamped on 'Meet Frankenstein' but this is an authorised version rather than an unauthorised poor bootleg sounding composition.

Back to the modern sounding is 'One Of The Good Ones'; the lyrical dexterity is abounding with complex performance that probably outweighs the musical aspects. More ruthless is 'The Nu Temptations', the crass chorus is a reminder that Redd Kross are not all made of sugar, there is plenty of salt to pep up the flavour. The Cheap Trickiness of 'Choose To Play', is a case of the similar instinctive institution displayed by Zander and Nielsen, maybe in the case of Redd Kross it is due to them having brothers encased in their ranks, drummer Mc Donald, isn't one of them, but you have to look back to the early 80's for Cheap Trick to display as much fortified. This manages to keep the second half a touch more unpredictable. Similarly matured is 'Winter Blues' which mixes the aforementioned Cheap Trick but maybe a punch of Oasis and for some reason I feel Neal Morse having an imaginary hand in the phrasing of the odd vocal line on this one, it works perfectly.

In Summary
These guys managed to bridge together, pop, rock and punk, they have the perverse satisfaction of performing life savings tunes, no need for charity here at the Redd Kross, they have all the resources they need. This album is only 31 minutes long, just as it should be, before the capacity of the Compact Disc dictated the length of an album, whether or not the songs were worth it. You could say this album has been made for the time constraints of vinyl.

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