Finding a rare album by a long-lost gem of a band would fill any rock aficionado’s dark little heart with the kind of joy and mirth only reserved for a sunny day. Finding a band that you know you’re going to wind up saying “I knew them when. . .” may be even better, though heartbreaking. Then, there’s of course, just finding your favorite new live act, who blows their minds, eyes, and ears of anyone within fifty feet of a small stage in Brooklyn (namely, at the Union Pool or Don Pedro’s).
Woozy Viper is none of these. At all.
Woozy Viper is composed of two Kansas expatriate brothers who’ve relocated in Brooklyn. Other than their names, Luke and Mitch Meseke, or that Mitch is an illustrator who makes his love of rock and roll into beautiful masterworks, nothing is known. Their MySpace shows their album over (the image above), and provides a link to their website where you can download their entire album for free. They have no shows planned, it’s unknown if these guys ever played a show, and yet, they are still creating a buzz among the serious rock and roll blogs. The album was supposedly posted sometime in December, and I’ve only found their business card at the Brooklyn standard two weeks ago during that miserable snowstorm — the card is just their “Munsters”-influenced logo and the URL to their website. Who knows which brother plays what, but if I can make a guess: they both play acoustic guitars, and Luke is gently tapping at the skins, and for all I know, they use a Boss BR-532 digital 4-tracker to record, resulting in the clean-yet-lo-fi aesthetic of the album. This is music for people who get wrapped up in the legends of recluses like J.D. Salinger and Jendek.
Enough about the fucking story! How’s the album itself? In short: It’s pretty damned good.
The only track with any kind of fire to it is the opener, the surf-blues fusion of “Look Out!” wherein the opening line is the ballsy “I got graveyard dirt in my mouth,” in a moan reminiscent of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. The rest of the eleven tracks reflect their name perfectly: woozy, boozy, swaying acoustic-based garage blues, with some of the finest lyrics that sting. These are guys who take their rock and roll to heart, and know that deep down it’s supposed to be goofy and fun with allusions abound. “Come Over” sounds like a slowed down version of the Rolling Stones’ “Down Home Girl” (complete with the sliding guitar fill), but with each verse starting “Japanese violin player,” you can’t help but think of something Rivers Cuomo wrote a few years ago. The longest track “The Switchblade Swing” is a six-minute folk-jam, wherein Mitch (or Luke?) sing lyrics about hipsters looking like Polaroid pictures, and ask who they’re trying to be, before moving on to a scat singing before admitting that stuff’s not popular anymore. Or, take “King Kong,” which includes a line mentioning the big ape’s ah, . . . intentions not coming to fruition, to put it gently. All of it fun, very simple, and catchy at points. However, at the album’s center, however, is the fast-paced and silly “Speaking in Tongues,” where between decrying the death of the ghost of rock and roll, the singer stumbles over the line ‘Lookin’ out my window, waitin’ for the devil to come / Ohh watch-out-now-ohh-watch-out-now!” It certainly makes the case.
Grade: B-. It’s a short, twelve-song collection of cool acoustic-based blues tunes that are shrouded in ridiculous mystery. Put that aside, and it’s a loving addition to the realm of great garage bands: here for a moment, gone the next, only to thrive in the energy and excitement of rock and roll. Yet, it could benefit from more up-tempo numbers like “Look Out!”, and if it were maybe even a little dirtier aesthetically, to go with the subdued percussion in the background. All in all, watch their sites closely, as I feel big things are going to come their way if they ever want to make a go at it and play live.
You can download the entire album for free (and donate if you wish via PayPal — they say the money will go toward pressing records!) at their website.