Photo by Matt OttoThe Red Onions
"Livewire" b/w "Sexy Thang"
The Red Onions are furious live, so it's funny that their debut is as polite as a tap on the shoulder. Maybe it's the we're-desperate, Edison-cylinder recording techniques—if you've heard Iggy Pop's Metallic KO (and the Red Onions have), then you know just how blunt this is going to be. The songs both suffer and shine for it: everything on one side of the overdub gulf is soggy and muffled, and everything that came in later—like guitar and sax solos—just screams. A-side "Livewire" (the Onions' signature song since ever) melts from an overdriven JBs to a sick Funhouse outtake when guest Lawrence Sanchez doubletracks his sax—it's queasy, sleazy, greasy and it slides like a butter knife through the rest of the riff. B-side "Sexy Thang" is as subtle and charming as pinching a carhop's ass—"Baby, you got the outlet," coos singer Paul, "And I got the socket!" which is confusing because who's plugging what into where there?—but it's got a good funk push to it and a guitar solo that feels like blotter acid bought off Hell's Angels: half meth jitters, half LSD loop-de-loops; the Red Onions always have great guitar solos. This is okay for the nights when they aren't actually playing at Que Sera, but it's still far from the Distillery recording session and the full-length album they deserve—sometimes you get the neutron bomb, sometimes you just get the shadows burned against the wall.
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