CD Reviews

Mike Ness
Under the Influences
Time Bomb Recordings

Under the Influences, Mike Ness' all-covers album (out Nov. 9), marks the second release in one year from OC's punk godfather, arriving a mere seven months on the heels of Cheating at Solitaire, his admirable roots-music exploration. Influences takes things a bit deeper than Solitaire, but it's a perfect companion piece, offering classically gritty Nessian takes on songs from famous folks like Hank Williams ("Six More Miles" and "House of Gold"), George Jones ("Once a Day") and Carl Perkins ("Let the Jukebox Keep on Playing"), as well as chestnuts from more obscure songwriters such as Wayne Walker and Marvin Rainwater. As you'd expect, Ness sounds like he's fronting a covers band in some dive bar that reeks of piss and whiskey, where the women are willin', the bartenders are toothless, and the jukebox is always lit up. Ness has a talent for putting interesting spins on well-worn material—Social Distortion's "Ring of Fire" being the most obvious example—and that talent is on display here. His version of Marty Robbins' "Big Iron" crumples Robbins' sweetly sung gunfighter ballad and Nesses it up to the point where you can practically feel the hot lead whiz past your ears. Where Robbins made the tune sound almost romantic, Ness wants to make sure you know it's really about violent, crusty death and dangerous dudes who get off chiseling notches on their pistols. "Six More Miles" is the better of the two Williams songs, noteworthy for the zippy fiddle solos (fiddles! On a Mike Ness record!) alone. And Ness' brass-knuckled walloping of Bobby Fuller's "I Fought the Law"—especially when you consider Ness' rather, um, colorful past—might be the most obvious matchup between song and singer ever. Ness also covers his own bad self, with the slow, country-honk version of "Ball & Chain" that he's been playing at his shows of late. In all, a great album to get drunk, cranky and depressed to—and we wouldn't want it any other way. (Rich Kane)

Mike Ness & His Band perform with the Road Kings at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8927. Wed.-Nov. 6, 8 p.m. $20.

Nebula
To the Center
Sub Pop

Well, yeah, the guys in Nebula may have spent some time at public parks inside a smoke-filled Nova, but they don't dig the stoner-rock tag. Nebula does, however, accept responsibility for keeping the Seattle-based Sub Pop label rockin' post-Nevermind. But the band is actually truer to its Sabbath/Led Zep-reared youth than most of the bands who hail from the drizzly Northwest suicide capital. That makes sense, since bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano are ex-members of OC hard rockers Fu Manchu, who were apparently too scraggly to sell as poster boys to the girls who traded in their new wave duds for flannel shirts back in the early '90s. The two later hooked up with ex-Olivelawn singer Eddie Glass, who captivates audiences with his impassioned vocals and a lanky bod that he likes to swing his guitar around like it's a dang Hula-Hoop. As for To the Center(in stores this Tuesday), it pounds like a Humpers/Mudhoney house party on tracks like "Come Down," and the toe-tapping, cowbell intro on "What You're Looking For" is reminiscent of Motley Crue's Too Fast for Love days. The band also gets a little groovy, pulling out the aural incense to jam on the Fugazi-like "Freedom" and synthesizer-laced, Jefferson Airplane-ish "Synthetic Dream." And we love the souped-up '70s glam-punk cover of the Stooges' "I Need Somebody" —a track for which they borrowed Mudhoney's Mark Arm. Finally, there's a new, good Ozzy tune in "Between Time," just without the Oz-man. But thanks to Glass, we don't miss the younger, rawer Ozzy anymore. (Arrissia Owen)

Nebula play with Atomic Bitch Wax and Core at the Lava Lounge (at Java Lanes), 3800 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 597-6171. Sat., 9 p.m. $10; $8 with costume.

Hot Sauce Johnson
Truck Stop Jug Hop
Outpost Recordings

You'll need extra napkins to listen to Hot Sauce Johnson's juicy debut, Truck Stop Jug Hop. It's like mixing Hank Williams, Sly Stone and the Beastie Boys in a popcorn maker and sprinkling on some Tabasco. The tracks overflow with a lip-stinging blend of funk, hip-hop, jazz, rock and even samples of down-home country. The slow, spaced-out, horn-laced "Jack Kerouac," interrupted by a long, funky drawl and mutated shout-outs, feels like taking a road trip without ever getting behind the wheel. "Chemical Dependency" starts out with some pop-and-lock beats, followed by phat vocals that make your booty move, even if you're dead-set against it, especially when the song breaks into an electro-heavy beat. That's no surprise, since mixer extraordinaire Mario Caldato Jr. (of Beastie Boys fame) lends his buttery talents. The Latin-inspired "Senorita" has a zesty salsa flavor while somehow maintaining a strange Creedence Clearwater Revival rhythm. And my favorite cover of the year so far is the boys' respectful dish-out of Sly & the Family Stone's wiggy-ass "If You Want Me to Stay," which starts with an Electric Boogaloo feel and then breaks into a sexy, soulful Good Times vibe. Lead singer Sun Sannes shows off his smooth bass vocals on the tune, and he has a rich, gospel-singing background, but we like him best when he gets down and dirty. It makes us feel gooood. And we think Jesus would want it that way. (AO)

Hot Sauce Johnson perform with Simon Says and Hydrovibe at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 629-0377. Thurs., Nov. 4, 8 p.m. $10. All ages.

 
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