fast freightHe’s taken it to the vertical, he's gotten all mean and twisted and more recently he’s been lost for words. “Fast Freight” strips things right back to the bone. 

The cover doesn’t lie: It is indeed the good Doctor teamed with tattooists and former pro skateboarders Art (bass) and Steve Godoy (drums). It’s The Band Formerly Known as The Golden Breed. Nobody else. No frills, a few spills. Ten songs recorded over two days. 

There was a track called “2Chloride Pam” that surfaced on a Japanese compilation many years ago, taken from a Deniz Tek and Godoy twins show. It exploded like a grenade. For all its spontaneity, “Fast Freight” doesn’t have that same recklessness. Which isn’t to say there’s not plenty here to please the fans, plus some variety.

The second track “Bo Diddley is a Surfer” for one. It’s all toms and chunky bass with a stripe of sinewy, withering guitar running right down its spine. Here’s a turf these guys have staked out and it sets up proceedings.    

The rollicking “Path of Most Resistance” sounds like a Fugazi song given room to breathe. Art’s too-cool-for-school bass-line underpins the song and Deniz’s guitar-work is his best on the record. Concise and surging, it also hits the target. 

“When The Trouble Comes” is built on the familiar doom-laden chords and a nagging guitar jangle and is the best Tek composition in years. Consider the lyric, delivered in droll Deniz-speak: 

Buy yourself some Bitcoin
Stick it in the cloud
Fill your boot with cans of soup when you drive into town
Get a tank of rainwater
And a pump full of gasoline
But if you got ammunition tou can get anything you need

It’s not so much a call to arms for the backwoods militia-men as an allusion to the deep paranoia that lies within; you just need to add a thousand-yard stare to the kitbag and you’ll be good to go. 

“Death Note” is a wrist-slitter, an intense skin-crawl whose journey into the study to collect its pistol and deal with the situation is led by a clean Tek outro. 

“Shanghai Cab” is a Burroughs-style cut-up. Such things are hit or miss. In this instance, all those non-sequiturs and a plodding accompaniment end up taking it nowhere. The re-make of “Radio Birdman’s “Alone in The End Zone” also seems a bit pointless. The closer, "Truck For Christmas", is the curve-ball, a smooth instrumental that's more at home on a highway than a beach.    

Like Ed Kuepper and the Saints (at least up until recently), Tek has spent his solo career avoiding being accused of re-making Radio Birdman’s sound. The closest he went was the “Outside” album, a dense maze of scorching riffs and spiralling lead guitar. “Fast Freight” isn’t up there with that one but not many are. Time to revisit. 


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