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The Boggs | We Are The Boggs We Are (Arena Rock/Rykodisc)
Oh, the woes of a music hack! Sometimes, something is so good that the words don't, er..? So, I sat at this PC, floundering for an intro to a review of Brooklyn's The Boggs incredible debut. My discomfort at house parties and the genius of Queens of The Stone Age were amongst the topics considered for an opening paragraph, but no - it just wouldn't dovetail, despite the mental plan. Consequently, I here suspend my aspiration to be considered some encyclopaedic musical genius of unsurpassed wit, and simply say 'We Are The Boggs We Are' is awesome, and you really should go all out to at least hear it. You want rock 'n' roll? It's here in shed-loads. You want heartache; you want the blues? Check. Floorboard pile-driving party stompers? Roll back the carpet. Primal, unhinged, American folk music played by lunatics? Then The Boggs are your wettest dream. Of the album's 20 tracks, five are heads-down, all-out frenzied country-blues stompers, the most incredible of which â?? Brighter Days â?? is akin to The Violent Femmes' Country Death Song on black market steroids. Building to a crescendo of epic proportions, this 1,000MPH mad-grass ditty all but tears from the speakers and destroys your room. This is what we want. Often, the eerily intuitive dexterity of (groaning or incomprehensibly slurring) singer Jason Friedman's guitar picking and Phil Roebuck's banjo blur are genuinely dizzying, none more so than on this, Whiskey And Rye, A Picnic Lunch Packed For Two and The Airborne Station. The latter would hospitalise most any Pogues track in a tear-up, and have Slobberbone cowering like puppies in a corner. There are others that rock like fuck, and there are five brief, untitled instrumentals, and then there is the blues, oh yes. On North Wood Ground, Emily, O Emily and Pauline, Pauline in particular, this is the sound of Robert Johnson in a barrel on a swamp bed, recorded from 100 yards away with a Dictaphone. Production-wise, this makes The Baptist Generals sound like P.M Dawn. All that's missing is the scuffy scratches of a battered 78. It's all unerringly bonkers and beautiful, but such a natural air hangs over the proceedings that 'We Are The Boggs We Are' could only be the product of totally devoted disciples of the music of the deltas and the mountains. Like the bewilderingly ignored Menlo Park, these four perversely displaced city boys are presenting traditional roots music in a twisted, scintillating format, stripped of everything but genius. Oh, the joys of a music hack!
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002