- by Kevin Orton Release Date:2017-03-24 Label: Bronze Rat
Has it been 17 years since the last Boss Hog album? Well, the gloomy doomy opener of Brood X lets you know right off the bat, they’re not taking any prisoners. “Here come the wolves”, frontwoman Christina Martinez declares on ‘Billy’. It seems that Billy is not only on fire but on the brink of destruction. If there’s anything political to be gotten out of that statement, it’s anyone’s guess. But I confess to finding the lyrics oddly topical.
“I’ve been searching outside, I’ve been searching inside but I can’t find it anywhere,” Martinez chants on ‘Black Eyes’. Along with the bluesy, ‘Ground Control’ it’s pretty clear the long hiatus hasn’t dulled this couple's edge. If Boss Hog was supposed to be a side project for Jon Spencer and his longtime partner, I admit I’ve always been more partial to Boss Hog than the Blues Explosion. Where Spencer is all yelps and feral howls, Martinez always had a bit more nuance to her act.
On ‘Shh Shh Shh’, Martinez’s demented vocal effects make her sound like Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy at times. It’s a catchy infectious number, the kind you wish Murphy would cut over his usual theatrics. ‘Signal’ follows rocks as hard as Hog in their heyday. It’s a funky, sexy number guaranteed to get you grooving.
And who can resist a song called, ‘Rodeo Chica’? Its Spencer and Martinez at their most tongue in cheek and simpatico. Martinez challenging Spencer to up his game. Any way you cut it, it’s pure fun. ‘We’re on the clock, we got to rock,” Martinez sneers. Echoed by Spencer, “This ain’t no radio antique show.”
On ‘Elevator’, Martinez plays 911 responder, calling for all “elevators to the lobby”. Something is indeed rotten in the state of gilded high rise. It’s a deranged rocker with some fierce organ and fuzzed out guitars.
‘Formula X’ is tough talking satire mixed with just the right bit of camp. Brilliant stuff. Meanwhile, ‘Sunday Routine’ is brooding Goth, bringing the energy down a notch. Martinez sinks her claws into domestic bliss where all is not well. It’s a haunting track lending some depth to an album that deftly avoids being heavy handed; while still slipping a message under the door.
The album closes with the dark, unsettling, ‘17’. If she’s describing a first sexual experience it isn’t a pleasant one. “All I need to do is breathe.” It’s an unnerving ending to an album that has no interest in fashion or compromise. It’s the kind of stuff you wish got more exposure than mawkish crap like Taylor Swift or Adele. In the end, all I can say is I hope they don’t wait another 17 years to cut another one. A welcome return.