A whiskey grin that always got him to the door but never got him in
Or Avoiding charges of nepotism and is it even nepotism if you're not related...?
It's true, I've been having a moral quandary for months now about saying anything about The Unsacred Hearts and in particular, my favorite song on their In Defense of Fort Useless cd because I sometimes perform with them (sporting giant hair, racooned eyes and doing an approximation of Tina Turner's Proud Mary dance with my co-Hardtogette, Miss Stephanie T.) Also, I've been to some of their houses and partaken in their hooch. And argued about who the best singer/drummer that ever lived is. And other sundry things of import.
For the sake of this bit, let's pretend that this isn't so. Let's pretend that I know nothing about these people. I've never seen them before and going by their cd photo, I'm shocked that they don't look like the radically different mental picture I had in my head based on sound alone. I guess I expected drunken hipsters in tight red pants. Which isn't bad, I'm sure the red pant clad bizarro world version of The Unsacred Hearts are cool. I just probably wouldn't drink with them. These guys though, the ones in the picture...these guys I would drink with.
So yes, my favorite song on In Defense of Fort Useless...that would be the scorchah that is Somewhere Deep in NYC which I've been hearing on repeat in my head as a great big slice of steamy city soundtrack since the first time I heard it's distinctive drum stomp/stick tap/bass clang opening at a Hearts show some time ago. I got that panicked, head rushed feeling I get when I hear a song for the first time that I know I'll love forever.
Ooh boy does it sound like summer in Noo Yawk. There's so much frustration and heat in the opening moments of the song that when Dave Heart's guitar cuts in sharply with a ping! followed by attack. After the previous sparseness, that sound causes an involuntary jump. You get this perfect music-as-mirror sense of someone in a room, caged and miserable, sweat pouring into their eyes, ready to drink or die. But that's nothing compared to the next moment, when right before the chorus, a catchy, rock-dance-inspiring riff enters, gets stuck in your head and won't leave. It's just riff, perfect drum response, riff, perfect drum response, chorus. And while the verses are excellent and the guitar solo is tasty, the song is OWNED by that riff. Even as the tune reaches its coda and that riff evaporates and becomes a relentless avalanche of downstroke; its still there. Even as the two singers repeat the weirdly hopeful-despite-the-lyric-sounding lines about cold winds blowing, rising higher and higher in harmony, there it is. Still reverberating.
One thing about vocalist Joe Willie. While he is a top notch lyricist with a knack for pairing inverted rock 'n' roll cliches with luminous poetry, he is also fantastically marble mouthed on the fast numbers. And yet, in a number like Somewhere Deep in NYC, there's nothing wrong with that incoherence. In fact, I kinda love it. Especially right before that king riff comes back and Joe Willie is braying what should be (consults lyric sheet) "No redemption in sight/minimum wage scraping shit off the floors/night after night after night after night...." and really, every time it plays, I only hear "Yammer yammer yammer yammer yammer NAAAA AFFA NAAA, AFFA NAAA, AFFA NAAAA, AFFA NEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAA" and I totally understand the feeling implied.
Somewhere Deep in NYC/The Unsacred Hearts (mp3)
The whole album has classic cuts, including the stately clearing through the trees beauty of Bless This Bus, the ragged trombone-assisted Tom Waits crawl of Will You Be Coming Back to Me? and the brief but plague-catchy paean to the dodo of the skies, Visions of the Concorde.
If you don't have this album, spend the $7 and buy it here.
Befriend The Unsacred Hearts on My Space.