Paperback Vipers


“Debt Collector” is “Taxman” less clever; “Let It All Go” is “Let It Be” left be, more to the point. I’ve been on this “Were the Beatles really that important?” riff for a minute, but now I’m wondering if the better question is: Fuck’s a deadly snake anyway? The Toronto band always dug swung eighths and gospel choruses and Huey Lewis horns, all curiously tucked into woozy-boozy trash-rock odes to joy. A bad, seedy take on the garage stat quo for sure, but it worked fine, and this time around the Snakes have even fewer racially conflicted hang-ups. “Everything was fire-engine red and all the black guys, they sang,” explains lead Deadly Andre Ethier.

When not sing-screaming through organ-driven power ditties (“Sissy Blues”), Ethier keeps his melodies spiritual, range and intervals plebeian, as if to maximize his sing-along. The brass-driven jump blues of “By Morning I’m Gone” could work as the anti-dirge in a New Orleans funeral procession, for sound and spirit. Even the Snakes’ more embellished or orchestral numbers (the Waitsy waltz “200 Nautical Miles” has piratic string arrangements; “Gore Veil” has, literally, bells and whistles) are just that, “embellished” or “orchestral.” Strip them down and stark come the essentials—never earthshaking, but I’d rather tomorrow know.

The Deadly Snakes play Mercury Lounge December 7.