With the breakup of the Ramones, CJ Ward, aka CJ Ramone, is right back into the music with his band, Los Gusanos. The music on this self-titled LP has a lot of the Ramones sensibility in it (especially “Go Again”), but really moves into hard rocking power pop. It’s almost redneck or Southern Rock meets Forest Hills punk. “Burnin’,” in which the love for marijuana is expressed, is full of leather, but burns more rubber and seems more at home on the wide-open road than in the big city. And this goes perfectly with “Arizona,” which seems to be about those clear skies and time spent in blissful punk solitude. The song has a lonely sound to it, almost like it was recorded in a ghost town.
CJ and company seem to build on the Ramones experience, but the more I listen to this album, the more I get visions of hitting the road alone for days and days, just absorbing the lonely highway and retelling myself the same stories, just sorting things out. “Bad Day” and “Carve Your Name” really hit on this mood, as they’re about getting away from things (drugs? back-stabbing friends?) and being alone with your past. “Helldorado” appears to be about cruising through life at too fast a pace, but things are cleaned up on “On My Way,” the last song on the album, which tells of recovering from depression and getting back on track with life and playing great music!
This is a special record, because CJ really was a Ramone; he recorded at least two original albums with the band and toured for a few years and was accepted by the fans as a Real Ramone when he replaced Dee-Dee. Seeing him in the after-Ramones interviews, I can tell he’s sad, but he knew that touring around with men nearly twice his age wasn’t meant to last too long. I mean, with Joey and Johnny and Marky all pushing past sixty, CJ would’ve barely hit forty. He’d be administering CPR between songs! This album puts CJ on the map in his own right and it’s a great one! Check `em out at http://www.losgusanos.com! Mayhem Records, 285 W. Broadway, Suite 300, New York, NY 10013