1000 Watt Confessions (Lookout)
by Scott Hefflon
Good for Lookout!, snagging these trash rock heroes! Strange that this is only their sophomore release, seeing as Gaza Strippers are already slipped in there with The Hellacopters, The Murder City Devils, “Supersuckers meets Hanoi Rocks” (Sims did a quick stint in Supersuckers), Cheap Trick, and plenty of other well-worn (that’s a double entendre, by the way) reference-points in swagger rock history. The confusion probably comes from main Stripper, Rick Sims, having been in the Didjits in the late ’80s/early ’90s, releasing five records through Touch & Go when such a thing made an impact, and having that little band called the Offspring cover a song of theirs, “Killboy Powerhead,” on that somewhat successful record that came out in ’94, Smash, a time when a handful or so of people started to realize punk kicked ass again.
Another well-known band I hesitate to bring up, cuz saying Sims sounds like the Offspring’s Dexter, while backwards, should allude to a distinctive vocal sound and style, is Styx. There, I said it. Sims sounds like like a punk rawk Dennis DeYoung (not the prettier, soft fruit, Tommy Shaw, who I blame for later ballads like “Don’t Let it End” and maybe other stuff I’m mentally blocking. Shaw was in Damn Yankees with a surprisingly-unembarrassed Nuge and a no-cred skippy named Jack Blades, formerly of mush rock wastes-of-talent Night Ranger). While Styx now makes many wanna wash afterwards, that’s mostly Killroy was Here, and some of the sissier passages of Paradise Rock – ya know, prog rock, back in the day when we still thought Rush ruled – but if you recall gruff lug nuts like “Renegade” and, I dunno, plenty of other stuff I have on vinyl LP as well as scratched-to-shit K-tel, you’ll know that yippy vocals sound pretty damn rockin’ over a pounding rhythm and group shout of “Catfight” or something equally balls-out.
So in 13 just-over-two-minute rockers, Gaza Strippers hit a stride and ride it all the way home. Within a spin or two, you’ll’ve pegged the transitions (not that they’re predictable, really, just that they’re memorable like good hooks oughtta be) and be able to sing along (voice cracking like a pimple-faced 14-year-old cuz the range is too high). Funny cuz it takes a band like this to bridge the gap between punk and rock (or really use the phrase “punk rock” correctly, remembering it was designed to describe a re-introduction of danger and gonzo mayhem into music when rock was leaning more toward glittery, prancing art-rock: Queen, in a word).
Gaza Strippers splatter punk energy like a powerful sprinkler run amok, heave chunks of rock-solid concrete like beefy-brutes, solo chaotically like Angus and the Nuge once did (and the new school stage-staggerers like Nashville Pussy, et al. now do), and bring it all together once again. Almost half these songs could sneak on radio, get astonished response (once listeners picked themselves off the floor and realize they’ve been sleeepwalking since Back in Black), and change the face of rock radio (except for the fact that it’s the ads and not the listeners that dictate what gets played, but let’s avoid that sad truth, huh?). The bratty opener, “Outasight,” the pounding “Catfight,” the (Green Day) jumpy meets Offspring chorus “Juvenile Detention,” and, well, pretty much every other song’d be my pick. So get this thing, stupid!
(PO Box 11374 Berkeley, CA 94712)