The Warlocks Surgery

[Mute; 2005]

Styles: progressive stoner-rock, neo-psychedelia
Others: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Ramones, The Jesus & Mary Chain

I make it a general rule to check out everything Tom Rothrock produces. The man is partly responsible for the best releases of Beck and Elliott Smith, who received a co-dedication here, alongside Greg Shaw; so this respect is deserved. It is somewhat of an odd juxtaposition, though, as The Warlocks had shown with their first two releases and now with Surgery that they are the essential "taking razor blades to the amps" antithesis of everything cult singer-songwriter Smith was. But the death of Elliott still obviously weighed heavy on front man Bobby Hecksher, as there is far less of a balls-out/burn-out vibe to this release than usual. Instead, Bobby’s recent affection towards early '60s teen ballads, Shangri-Las style, has found great influence and exercise here. Only "Come Save Us" and "Thursday’s Radiation" recall the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club vein of steady chugging, gin-joint psychedelia, which usually feels like running your head into a fuzzy wall for seven minute stretches. The rest of the album consists only of self-reflective, paranoid jams and acid-rock doo-wop laments swimming in death-based imagery like "Angels In Heaven, Angels In Hell" and "The Suicide Note." The somber subject matter seems to temper the dense guitar sound the three Warlock guitarists are capable of producing. Many of the tracks are begging to be played live in full force, as most of them, to be sure, sound unfulfilled here on CD, as if the memorial gesture had not given the Warlocks collective release from the personal tragedies surrounding their creation. Either that or I just miss Elliott Smith.

1. Come Save Us
2. It's Just Like Surgery
3. Gypsy Nightmare
4. Angels In Heaven, Angels In Hell
5. We Need Starpower
6. Thursday's Radiation
7. Evil Eyes Again
8. The Tangent
9. Above Earth
10. Bleed With Out You Babe
11. Suicide Note

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