The Dead Ringers – Essex Boys
( Performed by The Dead Ringers, 2020)
With scuzzy guitars doused in alchemy and dusted with burnt sugar and unrelenting, pelt-pounding percussion, Essex, Maryland’s The Dead Ringers perpetrate loutish two-piece garage rock that ricochets around a barroom like a loaded cue ball. Brandishing the rousing raw filth of protopunkers like The Dictators and the semi-lucid lunacy of Titus Andronicus, with sneering-yet-melodic distorted vocal bleats, stiff molasses basslines, treacly harmonica and horn work, and anthemic sing-alongs, this is a positively exhilarating album start-to-finish, guaranteed to have you squinting through the smoke and hugging your beerhall brethren. A few standouts include the warbly, wiry “Buried”, and the 11-minute epic “Jeff Feels Better,” a free-jazz, back-alley excursion that sounds like it stumbled off of the B-Side of The Stooges’ Fun House.