Music Reviews

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House

Creepy Little Noises

In Music We Trust

Portland kicks ass, okay? I mean, we have the world’s most dysfunctional NBA team, the country’s nicest transportation system, lots of beautiful parks for the runaway kids to squat in, lots of seedy heroin dives, and a Chinese food restaurant called Hung Far Low. Or at least we did when I grew up there. I last lived there 16 years ago. I live in Wisconsin now, and I miss the PDX.

Especially when there are kick-ass alt.blues.country acts like I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House still there. This debut record from ICLASOBITH is pretty much all the work of one guy, the very very confident Mike Damron. This guy is working all sides of the street: bluesy roots-rock (“Graveyard Song”), dragged-up-from-the-depths personal pop-rock that sounds like bonus tracks left off Let It Be by the ‘Placemats (“Swing Man Swing”), and death ballads (the title track). And that’s just the first four songs!

Look: Damron is a huge huge talent. His songwriting says a little too much – does he really need to describe himself mouldering in the grave? Does he really need to call a track “Fear’d” and then sing about how he ain’t a-feared? – but hey, it’s a first album, cut my homey a break. And his punky whiskey-flavored soulful voice and John Mellencamp-esque chord changes (and that is SO not an insult in any way… Mellencamp’s chord structures are amazing) sell every single song.

But even if the rest of the album – which includes love songs and cheatin’ songs too – wasn’t so great, two songs would completely justify you getting this record NOW. They are both focused on the physical abuse of children, but they couldn’t be more different. The first one is “Saturday,” an outwardly jovial burner about a nine-year-old who hangs with his grandparents having fun that day every week: Captain Crunch, baseball on TV, plastic army men, watching The Cars on Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, the whole nine yards. Only after you listen to it a couple of times do you hear the lines dealing with WHY he’s so happy to be there: “Close my eyes, count three, and pray / Mama you ain’t gonna hit me again.” Whiplash!

And the closer is a chill-inducing indictment called “Big Man.” In this piece, Mike D.’s narrator calls out a father for being a big huge asshole to his five-year-old self: “And I will survive you / Hallelujah! / And I will love bigger than you / And I won’t do all the bullshit you did do” (and here the pauses are crucial) “I will not be a big man / I will not be a big man / Like you!” Yeah, brother, testify! I’m right there with ya. To hell with that old bastard, he wasn’t shit, you’re a better man, keep on walking and hold your head up. Wow I love that song.

It’s a good album. A little short, and a little too calculated in places, but I Can Lick… is gonna be huge real soon.

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House: http://www.icanlickanysob.com/index.html


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