Electric Love Hogs – Electric Love Hogs

Electric Love Hogs   1992 London Records

One of my favorite things about the early-mid 1990′s (when alternative was struggling to find its identity) is albums like this. Albums that exist outside of trends and manage to sound like they were created in a vacuum. Influences are abound and evident, yet the music and album sound fresh and quite original.

Mind Bomb, Nudeswirl and others come to mind. Bands that released one, maybe two albums and kinda disappeared…and the one or two albums they left are timeless and arguably classics. Once you hear how excellent and, in some cases, innovative the music is, it becomes all too evident that the marketing department at said band’s label just had no clue what to do with the finished “product.”

In the case of Electric Love Hogs, in my not-so-humble opinion, they were just too real and just too good to fit in with the then in-vogue hair metal bands.  Problem was that they were also just a tad too accessible to be embraced by the alternative/grunge collective.

Too bad for both, as this debut album (their only output that I’m aware of) is just alive with cool riffs and licks.  Tribal Monkey kicks off the proceedings with a capital PARTAAAY and shows two guitarists juiced and primed to kick some ass.  Lead throat John Feldmann sounds great when using his normal range but can grate at times when he does the fortunately-only-occasional scratchy helium squeal.

Mr. Fun, I Feel Like Steve (great title), Keep Getting Up and the almost-Metallica The Fix are just a few highlights from what is a really fun album.  The twin-guitar solo work on the latter just levels the place.  Just Another Day  closes out the album in fine schizophrenic fashion with both successful and failed experimentation that once again wins with conviction.

Making this even more cool is the “Where Are They Now” with regard to Electric Love Hogs.  Check out their Wikipedia page and read about their close ties to Goldfinger, Orgy, Handsome, Lit, Sugartooth and the Sons of Anarchy show.

There are a few letdowns in terms of hooks on a slight few tunes, Pud in particular cramming in way too many pointless changes and even more intelligence-insulting lyrics.  But there’s never a letdown in energy, and the guitars on the weaker songs still shred.  Totally committed performances, just enough cool fwap bass, and (to quote my fave music journalist of all time, Martin Popoff) absolutely paint stripping axework.

Rating:  4 out of 5
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Barkmarket – Vegas Throat

1992 Def American

Barkmarket is an amazingly original band and yet another one that got lost in the shuffle during the 90′s alternative boom, though they caught the attention of the ultimate rock producer Rick Rubin and were the first band he signed to his Def American label.  Really, theirs is a sound that is as alternative as you can get…distorted guitars and power-trio arrangements being very much the hardcore/rock hybrid, while song structures (or lack thereof) are very free-flowing and jazzy in their openness.  Closest comparison I can come up with is The Jesus Lizard, but with more melody and the occasional chorus you can sink your teeth into.

Check out my fave track from this CD, “Pencil,” and you’ll have a really good idea of what to expect from this band.   There are two cover tracks here, as well, though you’d never recognize them given the thorough psychotic Barkmarket treatment they receive:  “Back Stabbers” by the O’Jays and “I Don’t Live Today” by Jimi Hendrix.   I remember Blackie Lawless of 80′s shock rockers WASP once saying “Cover songs are pointless unless you make the song better or at least change it.”  Barkmarket has certainly changed the songs and made them their own.

“Grinder,” “Ditty” and “Hydrox God” are some other choice tracks on this CD, but the truth is you should listen to “Pencil” in its entirety first.   There is no middle ground here…you’re either going to be on board or totally turned off, thinking “What the hell is THAT?!”   “Pencil” is a 5-minute tune that is like 3 mini-songs mashed together seemlessly.

As testimony to the talent of guitarist/vocalist/band leader Dave Sardy, he’s gone on to produce some fine albums for the likes of System of a Down, Bush, Jet, Marilyn Manson, OK GO, Wolfmother and a host of others.  In 2006 he won 3 Grammys (Wolfmother, OK GO, Marilyn Manson), 6 ARIA awards (Jet) and Brit awards for his work with Oasis, Marilyn Manson and Wolfmother.

His production prowess is on display here with his deft manipulation of cool sounds and sheer noise.  Like other bands in the abyss with multiple reviews, you can pretty much take this CD and the follow-ups ‘Gimmick’ and ‘L. Ron’ and stick ‘em in your media player on shuffle play.  You either buy into the sound or you don’t.  I’m sold.

Rating:  4 out of 5

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Update:  There’s not much I can find online from this album, but check these songs out and you’ll very much get the idea:  Whipping Boy & Dumbjaw (both from the Gimmick CD) & Feed Me (from the L Ron CD and containing some cool skateboarding in the vid).