Rocket 808: s/t LP (12XU, 2019)

January 31, 2020 at 6:24 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rocket 808: s/t LP

Rocket 808’s 2018 debut 7″ was a very pleasant surprise, making vintage drum machines and twangy, distorted guitar riffs sound like the most natural combination in the world. Now we have a full album of the stuff, and it’s another motorik cruise through a Western desert landscape filled with big neon signs which have been flashing nonstop for decades. Early on, he covers Suicide’s “Ghost Rider”, seemingly getting the most obvious comparison out of the way quickly, and simultaneously beaming the song into the past and the future. However, he doesn’t sing on much of the album; the focus is more on Link Wray-inspired guitar shredding. “Digital Billboards”, the A-side of the previous single, still sounds like the Cramps recording an instrumental demo with a drum machine, and much of the other songs follow this lead. The other cover is a synth-punk update of Ersel Hickey’s rockabilly chestnut “Goin’ Down That Road”, with a dilapidated drum machine slap matching the song’s “boom-chick-a-boom” refrain. Following the similarly racing (but slightly slower) instrumental “Black Test Car”, Rocket 808 joins the elite club of bands with self-titled songs on a self-titled debut album. “Rocket 808” features acoustic drumming along with the 808 pulse, as well as a brief guitar/drum freakout.

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