By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The In the Red ethic is simple: Give artists a totally free hand, and the results can be stunning. This year has seen the release of the full-length debut by the Strange Boys (see sidebar), a new record by San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees, and, perhaps the most potent example, In the Red’s new Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds album, Dracula Boots.
Powers, a former guitarist for the Gun Club, the Cramps and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, makes it clear from the start that he is back exactly where we’ve all wanted him. The entire set is a marvel of dissociative aesthetics, from the first notes of opening number “LSDC,” a relentlessly stabbing psych-trash strut bonded together with the hot glue afforded by Congo’s extraordinary musical background. Vocals are cogently de-emphasized, lyrics brilliantly understated, and cynical humor (“Rare as the Yeti”) is as important as blood-chilling horror (“La Llarona”). A handful of instrumentals, from Bo Diddley’s “Funky Fly” to the band’s own “Black Santa,” are strikingly tight, well-lubricated grinds, each radiating a luxurious abandon. Verily, a thrilling hunk of wax.
“I’m extremely proud of it,” Hardy says. “I’d already done the Knoxville Girls, which was great and somewhat of a return to form for Congo, but he’s done so many different genres, often really weird things. When Kid asked me to do the album, I had to ask, ‘What’s it going to be like?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry — it’s gonna be a rock & roll boogaloo album.’ But even I was surprised at how hard and raw it was.”
In the Red’s sole flirtation with the mainstream was a Sparks album he put out a few years ago, but there was another attempt to romance a name attraction: “After we did the Andre albums, I thought about trying to record another great old blues guy, and actually had a meeting with Ike Turner,” Hardy recalls. “Good God, am I glad we didn’t do that. He came over to the office, and we played him a T-Model Ford Fat Possum album, to give him an idea of what we had in mind. He just started laughing, said, ‘Man, that sounds like what I used to do with Howlin’ Wolf — just one little microphone hanging from the ceiling!’ I gave him a copy of Andre’s record, he left, and 15 minutes later called from his cell phone. He was listening to Silky, yelling, ‘I would never make a record this out of tune.’ That was it. He thought we were idiots. Or insane.”
KID CONGO & THE PINK MONKEY BIRDS | Dracula Boots | In the Red
THE STRANGE BOYS | The Strange Boys ... and Girls Club | In the Red
THEE OH SEES | Help | In the Red
THE HUNCHES | Exit Dreams | In the Red