Wild Mercury Sound

Speedo returns!

John Mulvey

Wandering around Pitchfork yesterday, I came across this story about one of my old favourites, John 'Speedo' Reis.

Reis, as you may remember, has figured in a bunch of great bands out of San Diego over the past decade or so, notably Drive Like Jehu, Rocket From The Crypt and, most recently, Hot Snakes.

That last band split a year or so ago, but three-quarters of them seem to have resurfaced as The Night Marchers. As usual with Reis projects, there's a great logo, and dropping by at their Myspace reveals three tunes from an appetising debut album.

Although there's a logical connection between everything he's done, Reis' projects broadly fall into two camps: ones featuring Rick Froberg where there's a fractionally greater emphasis on a bent and intense form of hardcore (Hot Snakes, Jehu, Pitchfork); and ones without Froberg, which are a little more direct and rock'n'roll-oriented, with Reis upfront (RFTC, The Sultans).

Since Froberg is the one man missing from the Hot Snakes in the Night Marchers, it stands to reason that these three tracks are more in the tradition of Rocket etc: punchy, exuberant, greasy rock'n'roll with a hardcore thrust but a classic swing, too, and a distinct whiff of old Detroit about them.

"Scene Report", especially, strikes me as one of the poppiest things he's done since the heyday of Rocket, though Reis is one of those polymaths (he runs the Swami label, a record store and DJs these days, too)who invests everything he does with a sort of muscular cool. John Robinson at the desk next to me suggested that Reis is a bit like an underappreciated Josh Homme, from the quiff and the pranksterish menace, right down to the vigorous high quality of his music. When the full album turns up, I'm sure I'll write more.


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