I have to preface this review by stating that I am a fairly devout fan of the Murder City Devils. They fill a need for festering gutter punk/horror rock that I haven’t been able to shake yet. Much to my embarrassment I even had a cactus named Lil’ Spencer Moody (after the Devils’ singer), which promptly died after the Devils broke up at the end of 2001 and its members moved on to other projects (Pretty Girls Make Graves, Dead Low Tide, Modest Mouse, etc.)
The Hookers, however, are the Devils’ embryonic stage, rawer than uncooked vegetables, lo-fi enough to make you cringe and with born-front-woman Andrea Zollo on drums. The four songs on this album (“Officer,” “Broken Glass,” “Fire” and “Tell You Brother”) also appear on later Devils’ releases in more organ-ized versions. This is perhaps my biggest quibble with the Hookers in general: without the graveyard organ to add some flavor to the music, there really isn’t much of interest onto which the ear can grab. Spencer Moody’s trademark drunken howl and Dann Gallucci’s foggy surf guitar are valiantly evoked, but ultimately the band can’t break free of standard one-minute punk.
Hardcore fans will no doubt enjoy hearing both the stripped down versions of these familiar songs as well as the four tracks that never made it past the Hookers-stage. Everyone else should skip ahead to Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts or In Name and Blood, and leave this album in the vault where it belongs.
Cold Crush Records: http://www.coldcrushrecords.com/