I can’t think of another Atlanta band that’s persisted – uninterrupted, for all intents and purposes – for as long as the Subsonics have whose quality has never waned and who are still consistently writing and recording material as strong as (if we’re being honest, stronger than) what they were doing 25 years ago. Somehow, they’ve never changed. And yet, somehow they’re better than ever.
Many of the new tunes on their eighth LP, Flesh Colored Paint (Slovenly Recordings) will already be familiar to devotees who’ve caught recent shows from the durable trio. Other, casual fans won’t need to play catch-up in order to dive in. All of the elements that combine to make the Subsonics come alive are right here from the get-go: Clay Reed’s agitated up-the-neck guitar strangulations, jolted by his trademark slash-n-stab solos; his snarly streetcorner delivery and crafty, efficient, oft-times humorous wordplay (albeit if you have a dark sense of humor!); Buffi Aguero’s spare, primal drumming and fun backing vocals; and on-point bass guitar from Rob Del Bueno, now on his third Subsonics album in a row, which must be a record for their bassists. This is a band that’s always managed to sound tough yet potentially unstable, a balancing act which is no mere accident.
A few friends contribute. Sam Leyja’s organ lends a groovy undercurrent to “Baby and Chita.” Roxy Verta-Ray – who co produced the album with her husband Matt Verta-Ray (ex-Madder Rose) at their New York City studio – plays vibes on the gentle downer “Die a Little.” And Ruby Rogers Garcia’s screeching violin ups the chaos factor of “Permanent Gnaw”s already dissonant disruption, bringing the 14-song, 27-minute dash to a crashing climax with barely a breath taken throughout. In some ways Flesh Colored Paint plays like a companion piece to 2012’s In the Black Spot (there’s even a song by that name here, which I assume just didn’t make the last album), but I ain’t complaining. That album was killer, and so’s this one. It’s out April 20th, with the release show a week later – Friday, April 27th – at the EARL.
Photo by Chris Beat.