I’ve been blown away this week by the first album from a New York band called Endless Boogie. The name was vaguely familiar, and reading through the press release it transpires that the band played Slint’s All Tomorrow’s Parties a few years back. There are some earlier singles, I think, which Bubba helpfully linked to here.
Anyway, reading on, it says here that frontman Paul Major is “one of the pre-eminent record collectors in the universe, and has supported himself as such for two decades now.” Fortunately, Major doesn’t bring a bloodless, scholarly approach to music with his band. Instead they, well, boogie. Endlessly.
So “Focus Level” begins with “Smoking Figs In The Yard”, and a Herculean chug that reminds me of AC/DC, with the solid machine-riffing style of Malcolm rather than Angus Young in the ascendant. Major’s vocal style is a sort of inchoate southern splutter which has prompted one of two vague Kings Of Leon comparisons in the office: maybe this is what “Knocked Up” would’ve sounded like if it had been as good as it briefly promised to be – and if the Followills’ father had sung lead.
A more apt comparison, though, might be to Captain Beefheart – or perhaps to John French, doing his fervid Beefheart impression on that weird Magic Band reunion tour a few years back. Like Beefheart, it’s clear that Endless Boogie’s music is rooted in the blues (the band name is lifted from a John Lee Hooker record), but their version is more streamlined than cranky.
As befits the work of men who clearly have that encyclopaedic, meticulous knowledge of rock history, it’s easy to sit here and spot antecedents in their awesome, brooding jams. There’s plenty of early ZZ Top, as you might imagine, some Coloured Balls, maybe a tiny bit of Status Quo (they appear to be acquaintances – and record suppliers, possibly – of Stephen Malkmus, which explains a lot) and Canned Heat (“Jammin’ With Top Dollar”, in particular, hits that mighty choogle, with a hefty measure of Norman Greenbaum and, as John Robinson has just noted, “Orgone Accumulator”, too). And there’s also a real sense that Endless Boogie have exploited the affinities between fiercely disciplined, linear southern jams and motorik. The road goes on forever, the scenery never changes that much. And neither do the jams.
I had an idea for a band for a few years ago – not that I can play an instrument or anything, but it was a pretty abstract idea. I envisaged a band who’d play nothing but the main riff from “American Woman” by The Guess Who, non-stop for an hour. Endless Boogie sound like the sort of band who had a similar sort of idea, then realised they could do much better. Hence “Focus Level”; it’s 79 minutes long, and right now I never want it to end.