Share INTELLIGENT PROPERTIES OF THE MINIMAL MIND - The Hitchhikers (Zodiac Killer Records)
I’m not going to try to convince you that the Hitchhikers are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m definitely not going to tell you how frighteningly original they are because they are not. But sometimes you don’t have to be original or fancy. Sometimes, just being good at what you do can be more than enough in a world of practiced banality.
There’s certainly no lack of fire in their delivery. This is a rock and roll album with the emphasis on raw and fans of the Hits will feel right at home here. Those two bands have a lot in common in terms of delivery and subject matter. The Hitchikers’ guitar solos are an inch more masculine if you catch my drift but this is still a good album. The metal edge is kept under control and the rock shines through. The twin guitar attack of Phil Naked and Steve Swails is well versed in the traditions of the Dolls and the Five (if not the distinctive stylings of a Kramer, Thunders, Smith or Sylvain). Chuck Berry probably deserves a royalty cheque but doesn’t he always?
The band’s got attitude and they’ve managed to commit that attitude where it counts; on disc. The song writing is better than decent but never quite exceptional. There are tips of the hat in all the right directions (the Stooges, the Stones and the Dead Boys) but, overall, this lacks that one killer stand out track that a great album should have. It has 12 really good songs but it’ll take you three or four listens to remember one. It boasts great playing from all involved with outstanding bottom end support of vocalist Mitch Cartwright’s mega chug bass.
According to their web-site bio, they hail “from the Valley of Smoke and home of the world’s greatest meth-labs.” Don’t let that put you off. There’s much more going on here than just another punk record from California. Apparently, the Hitchhikers “are cultured in junkyard etiquette and trailer park panache.” Yeah. Spot the smoke screen. They play up to being hard and thuggish but they are nowhere near as dumb as they would have you believe. The lyrics are way too smart for that. The vocals carry that scarred and scared romanticism a good rock record should.
As I’ve said, this is a grower. You’re not going to fall in love with it on your first listen. You’ll say it’s cool and you’ll push it aside to find more immediate kicks. Come back to it a week later and give it another day in court. I did and I’m pleased I did. Unusually for me, I gave this five listens over two months before deciding what I was going to write. It’s crept up on me and I’m guessing it will creep up on you. I’d suggest you buy it by clicking here. - Bob Short
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