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Endless Boogie
Full House Head Michael Dix , July 21st, 2010 12:13

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Over the course of the last decade, Brooklyn quartet Endless Boogie have seemed about as interested in changing course as they have in associating with their peers. While very much a rock and roll band, theirs is a very singular sound, centred around the well-worn art of the electric boogaloo and pretty much ignoring anything that has happened in the musical world since at least 1975. This is music for grinding hips and shuffling shoes. Think Canned Heat, think the Groundhogs; hear Paul Major's gruff bark for the first time and try to stop yourself thinking Beefheart. These are jams, deep and long, that stew and boil and bubble and go on forever; occasionally they'll sneak in a brief rocker, but most often they lock into a groove and keep it going for eight, ten, twenty minutes. If the band are feeling generous they'll throw in an extra chord, or even bump it up to three or four (I think I even recall a key change on 'Full House Head'!), but they seem at their most comfortable tripping out on a single repeated bass riff.

Any differences between this album and its predecessor, 2008's Focus Level, are almost imperceptible; if anything the playing is slightly more streamlined, the drumming leaner, the guitars cleaner. There is less fuzz in the rhythm department, and Major's lead parts are sharper; on the opening 'Empty Eye', his wiry duel with a guesting Matt Sweeney bears a fleeting resemblance to the Lloyd/Verlaine partnership on Television's Marquee Moon. Elsewhere, 'Slow Creep' does what it says on the label, exploring a gentler, bluesier side to the band than they've shown previously, while more up-tempo numbers like 'Tarmac City' and 'Mighty Fine Pie' sound like T-Rex rubbing themselves raw against Exile On Main Street. It's still heavily psychedelic fare, but only on the twenty minute plus closer 'A Life Worth Leaving' do they really touch on the more obvious, blown-out stoner rock tendencies often exhibited in the past.

If these guys share common ground with any of their contemporaries, it would be Wooden Shjips, fellow men of a certain age paying reverent respect to the zone-out masters of a past generation, seemingly unconcerned with updating the blueprint for their own. And like that band, Major and company present a “six versus two threes” conundrum: yes, we've heard it all before, but is that a bad thing when done so well? If you were being critical, you could argue that the Endless Boogie sound is formulaic; that their unwillingness to experiment is lazy. But here is a band that seems so hermetically sealed in its own little bubble it's easy to believe that this is genuinely all they know. Of course that can't be true, especially given Major's reputation as a rare record collector of legendary standing, but as long as they're happy to keep on endlessly cranking it out, I'm happy to keep moving to the boogie.

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