Music Reviews

The Fleshtones

Do You Swing?

Yep Roc

In the summer of 1984 my friend Tom L. sent me a tape with the first Violent Femmes album on one side and the Fleshtones’ Hexbreaker on the other. I played that tape so much it self-destructed; I met my great friend Ted H. in college through our mutual love of the ‘tones; Hexbreaker has lifted me out of deep depressions; I regard them as one of the coolest bands to hit the world.

And now they have a new album out on Yep Roc. What was I gonna do, hate it? I don’t think so, brothers and sisters – it’s brilliant. All pretenders to the nu-garage-rock throne need to listen to Do You Swing? so they can hang their heads in shame at hearing it all done correctly.

The Fleshtones, here, are fifty bands on 13 tracks that don’t even get past a half-hour, but that’s okay because you can just keep hitting “play” and listen to them do countrified Neil Diamond on “Hard Lovin’ Man,” or Troggified Buffalo Springfield on “Double Dipper,” or the Knack covering Otis Day and the Knights playing “Tequila” on “It’s Alright.” Yeah this is getting ridiculous, but I ain’t done yet, I haven’t even mentioned their cover of “Communication Breakdown” where Peter Zaremba goes completely off the deep end early and stays there the whole way, and then they go into “Whole Lotta Love” and all bets are off. And, they do a Chuck Berry-style/Ramones-style song about their Brooklyn home called “Destination Greenpoint” that’s even better than it sounds. They’re the bossest super-rock muthas on the planet.

This is neo-proto-punk the way it should be done: loud, crazy, out-of-control, and fun(ny) as hell. Keith Streng can still jangle and/or strangle a guitar better than any E’ed-up Swede, and Peter Zaremba is the sloppiest vocalist you’ll ever love, and the rhythm section cannot possibly be beat by anyone except the ghosts of Entwhistle and Moon.

To Tom L. and Ted H. (sadly, dead), and all the other Fleshtones maniacs out there: they’re back and they sound great. To all of you who think that the Hives are anything special: just feast your poor tired ears on this record here. Now.

Yep Roc Records:

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