The Ribeye Brothers
Bar Ballads and Cautionary Tales (Times Beach)
by Brian Varney
You’re probably gonna hear the name Monster Magnet come up in discussions of The Ribeye Brothers, seeing how two of these folks used to be in that band, but you’re not very likely to notice any similarities unless you dig pretty deeply into yer MM lineage. Both bands spring from a love of ’60s psych, but where MM followed the path into late ’60s/early ’70s proto-metal duh rock, the Ribeyes stay firmly rooted in the Back from the Grave/Nuggets tradition of bands in matching suits playing furiously energetic and catchy three-minute slabs that record collectors would later dub the first punk records.
So what does all of this shit mean for you, the listener? Well, if you’re all studied up on your copies of the aforementioned garage-rock anthologies, give ’em another listen and that’s pretty much what you’re in for. This sort of thing has been done a lot of times over the years, starting in the ’80s with bands like the Lime Spiders and Chesterfield Kings, a buncha times in the ’90s with records released by bands like Raunch Hands, Mono Men, and The Makers on labels like Crypt, Estrus, Empty, and a bunch of others. If you like that stuff, you’ll like The Ribeye Brothers. Although this style has probably been attempted too many times by too many bands, it never gets old when it’s done right. Doing it right means writing good songs, and the Ribeye Brothers write ’em.
A song like “Roberto Duran,” whose “I’m broke and I hate my life” theme is as overdone as the garage-rock genre itself, nevertheless succeeds because it’s a tremendous song. Tim Cronin is a sharp, funny lyricist (I’m not one to quote lyrics, but “Every time I close my eyes, I see the end of the rope” is a great line) and his voice, while not likely to win any awards, perfectly encapsulates the frustration driving the words. Unfortunately, the whole album doesn’t match this high standard, but there are several high points, enough for me to recommend this album to anyone who’s a fan of any of the ’60s comps I’ve mentioned.