by Jeffrey Larson of Sonic Recollections.
Okay, so the Cramps made their greatest records with no dang bass player – they didn’t need one! Boo Frog operates on a similar premise, I think. There’s so much great guitar here it takes awhile before the listener even notices there’s a rhythm instrument that’s usually there that ain’t. I haven’t even said a word about the songs – if these were JUST Chris Newman songs, it’d be a great album. But add Erika Meyer’s songwriting, guitar playing & singing into the equation – AND Paul Vega’s drumming (and great carny/Suicide/Jim-Carroll-esque vox on “Mind Bender”), and we’ve got a truly excellent album here. Erika’s “Anabasis” could be a riot grrrl outtake from 1994 (I hope the band doesn’t edit THIS part of the review out – I mean it as a compliment!), and then “Jake the Alligator Man”, complete with theremin from engineer deluxe Mike Lastra, is a psychedelic masterpiece that would fit in between the Seeds & the Lollipop Shoppe on a 60s mixtape. Seems like Erika sings a lot about dead people… and hey! Do I know “Bad Pam?” Newman has been making music for Portland & beyond for the last 30 years now, and will hopefully continue for 30 more – this record proves that his best work isn’t behind him yet. He’s been on a writing/recording/playing-live rampage the last 4 or 5 years, and this newest band of his, Boo Frog, raises the ante further. Glad to know you guys, and glad to keep seeing you live.
There’s a video from the session this album came from at Smegma that’s pretty cool – more contributions from renaissance man Mike Lastra – check it out
Boo Frog/Better Than the Rest, Skullman Records CD 84502-40389-3, 2010.re