As you probably already know, rock duo Druggist is ditching Alamo City for Rice-a-Roni Town. God knows why they'd ditch this storied music mecca â?? home of Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, and Ponty Bone â?? for some podunk upstart famous only for Tony Bennet, and â?¦ um â?¦ Deion Sanders was a 49er when he released his album Prime Time, so I guess he sort of counts as a famous San Francisco musician, but I digress.
The point is, they sent us a pretty sweet parting gift: A special "Jeremy Martin Edition" of their latest album, The Pile On. Check it out.
What makes this edition so much more specialer than your lame-ass regular edition is this: Back when it debuted in January, I suggested the 19-track Pile On might've been stronger as a 12-song album, so they made exactly that just for me, removing all the songs I complained about, probably in hopes that I'd shut my whiny little bitch-baby mouth. No such luck, guys. That's what they pay me for.
Unfortunately, I can't really test my hypothesis because the (no doubt lovingly) homemade label stuck on the CD made an absolutely horrible noise in my CD drive, and temporarily knee-capped my Itunes (maybe that was their real intent). It's the thought that counts, though, so in honor of their effort, I'd like to reproduce my review of the album, redacting my criticisms of the songs they removed:
The Pile On couldn't be better named. It contains nineteen songs (one hour and ten minutes total,) each stacked one directly on top of the other with hardly a pause or whole rest in between. The lack of segue between opener “No Touch, Bad Touch” and “Hold on, Son,” which begins loud and sharp while “Bad Touch” is still fading out, is sudden and startling, but these two inorganically-conjoined songs are among the best the band has written.
Blake Cormier's vocals soar on “No Touch.” “You're just what you say you are not,” he wails in between keyboard flourishes, as though he's never been deceived. “Hold on Son,” delivered in Zach Dunlap's stark, toneless voice, feels painful and immediate, a quarter-life anxiety crisis so personal that Dunlap even names himself in the lyrics. “Our Way out West” hones Cormier's held notes into hooks and concludes the album's top-heavy peak.
“On His Way Home” begins a mushy midsection by making an ill-advised mixture of Dunlap's harsh â??80's post-punk vocals delivering stoner philosophy (“you gotta take it slow/ you gotta travel which way the wind blows”) and guest violinist Marcus Rubio's vaguely fiddlish string arrangement (even hayseedier violins plague “San Francisco”).
From a technical standpoint, Cormier's voice is of better quality, more forceful and with an actual octave range, though Dunlap's untrained flatness is disarming and moving on “Scott Flaskerud,” which contemplates suicide from a detached third person perspective with affecting candor over primitive acoustic guitar strumming. And the tension between their voices is used to incredible effect on “Red Haired Girl,” where Dunlap's lead is propelled past a garagey come-on by Cormier's dynamic, melodramatic backup vocals. “It Still Hurts” finds a muddled proto-grunge groove, while “Too Much of My Love,” which comes in at nine and a half minutes long for some indiscernible reason, laments the time with family and friends lost in countless rehearsal hours before drifting into tinkling wind chimes, for the album's only true breather. A 12-song album could've been stronger, but all that extra practice is apparently paying off.
The album's a hell of an achievement either way.
Wish Druggist farewell Saturday at the Ten Eleven: