Hard Garbage


Gotta love Jon Spencer, especially for remaining as retarded now as when he and his Blues Explosion first began pawning off recordings of lousy rehearsals as bona fide products of professional rocking and rolling in the early 1990s. With the exception of a single song (“Talking About the Blues,” off 1998’s Acme), in which Spencer whips “Rowling Stown magazeen” for talking about “that fashion” and not the blues, indie rock’s loathsomest stick figure has pretty much managed to rebuff both the nearly fanatical hatred with which mass-media-forged popular perception connected his name with certain pejoratives—scornfully among them, “minstrelsy” and “racist”—and the damn, dirty pejoratives themselves. Lazy or disinterested ears may hear the muffled groans of an aging chief-rocker reaching for his ankles with his back to an angry, tumescent populace on Heavy Trash, the eponymous handiwork of Spencer, Speedball Baby’s Matt Verta-Ray, and various indie-world co-conspirators. But if allowed to spin more than two or three times, the 13-track disc mostly begrudgingly spills Spencerific retardation.

The sound is not rockabilly per se but stripped-down, “Mystery Train”-ish, art deco diner rock ‘n’ roll, a particular brand of tuneage that isn’t any more retro-cool than the Blues Explosion’s brand of garage. But since the brunt of the abuse heaped on Spencer of old was rooted in the fact that as a white punk he used the sacred term blues in his band’s name (even though JSBX was no more or less formally bluesy than any of the mainstream’s latter-day garage-y emulators created in JSBX’s image), the moniker Heavy Trash will only confuse the predominantly white, middle-class, heavy-metal community—BFD. Spencer does have rock ‘n’ roll in his gut. The belch he rips at the beginning of “Justine Alright” seamlessly slips into the music. On “Lover Street,” a snappy house rocker of bright twang and twinkling organ, the lyric that stands out is the one in which Spencer yelps, “Hey, baby/Your mama’s a ‘ho.” The choppy rocker “The Loveless” could be his life story. “They call me the loveless,” he sings. “I’m a mean son of a bitch/They call me the heartless.” Then the kicker: “Baby, I don’t give a shit.” Fuck you very much.