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Heavy Trash

Midnight Soul Serenade – 2009 (Fat Possum)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Heavy Trash

After his previous efforts with Heavy Trash, singer/guitarist Jon Spencer has tossed aside the spontaneous blues-meets-garage rock experiments and explosions for a tighter but at times unfocused slab of quirky tunes. Sure, there's the blasts of earlier albums sprinkled in between, but Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray are like a '60s one-hit wonder on the warm, island-tinged Gee, I Really Love You and the odd, quasi-spooky blues-cum-rockabilly of Good Man that resembles something Elvis might have toyed with for his '68 comeback special.

Fortunately, that ragtag, ramshackle feel is felt with the boogie-riddled Bumble Bee that chugs along for a delightful 118 seconds. But sadly, it's is often complemented with tunes that just sag instantly, as is the case with the spoken word spiel dubbed The Pill and the fairly forgettable short instrumental Pimento, which could have fallen off the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack.

It's this hit-and-miss feel which makes the hits all the more precious, especially a gem like the '50s Sun Studio hue coloring Bedevilment and (Sometimes You Got To Be) Gentle, a tension-building nugget in the vein of Jack White's current project The Dead Weather. And to say this is head and shoulders above the ensuing dull ditty Isolation would be an understatement. In fact, this particular song should have been isolated from the album completely.

The remaining songs don't leave much to be desired, including a tired, dirge-ish Sweet Little Bird. Hopefully it's an aberration for Heavy Trash as the album contains a bit more trash then one would expect.