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Album Review

THE GEARS
Four On the Floor

Ready for some overamped, crankin' surf/punk/hot rod mania? Ready or not, here come The Gears, not so fresh from years of cranking out kickass in-your-face barely-over-two minute anti-tribute anthems for the pierced and not-so-pierced. These guys have played garages so many times they reform to play gigs just to bolster their supply of motor oil, stolen from the shelves of the latest venue. Dave's garage? Pete's garage? Doesn't matter if the amps fit and can be plugged in, and to hell with sound checks.

These sound checks come from 2003 and are now issued under the auspices of The Gears and one Chris Ashford, former surf and punk backer, now swaddled in jazz. That doesn't stop him from reaching into his demented past (which includes stints with What? and Iloki Records and artists from The Germs and The Dils to Gabriele Morgan and Dee Lannon) and he feeds on three of his fetishes (surf, punk and hot rod) with Four on the Floor. Let's face it. You don't release music like this to make money. You do it for the fun!

The fun starts with a slam-bang, Four on the Floor taking off like an out of control Roll Over Beethoven, the mix of hot rod and punk providing therapy for guitarist Kidd Spike who rolls right over Brian Redz (bass) and Sean Antillon (drums) at every opportunity. Sixties, hell! They're spittin' nineties at the least and there is spit everywhere!

F.U.F., short for Fucked Up Families, is straight out of the seventies and the new wave/punk attitude which vaulted bands like The Dead Boys and The Zeros into the unknown. Slash and burn guitar with attitude supports the simple message which is, man, can things get any worse? No apologies necessary.

The Devil's Dancing borrows a riff from one of my all-time favorites, Slamhound Hunter by, not shockingly, The Slamhound Hunters (who asked the question then on everyone's lips--- Is music going to the dogs?). The doogie-doogie-doogie-doogie rhythm guitar has boogie in the fingers and in my toes whenever I hear it and makes me want to dance. Gawd, but I love that riff! Songs like this are why earphones and amps with volume controls to 10 were invented. I mean, “The devil's dancing to the devil's song...” Turn it up and life is good. And, no, this isn't about Satan. It's about damn good music! In fact, when it bumps up against The Slamhounds, it's damn good.

They finish it all of with a caffeine/amphetamine-inspired Sweet Little Sixteen, which I could live without, but that's mostly because I've lived long enough to have heard it as a new release and, what, five decades of it is beginning to wear me down. Trust me when I say that the band punks through it admirably and that should speak for itself.

I suppose you can get these tracks on iTunes or one of those digital shopping black holes, but the vinyl freaks will be ecstatic to know that it is available as a 10” EP from Ashford's Wondercap Records. Four songs, repeated on Side Two (scratch one, you still have a good side), pressed on red vinyl and sound clean as a whistle. You collect? Then collect this.

The Gears are not about the collecting, though. They are and have always been about the music. Music with life. Music with attitude. Music to get the blood pumping. You get a bit of the idea when you see the cover reminiscent of the days of Big Daddy Don Garlits, courtesy of one Kalynn Campbell. Drag racing, punk, hot rod, boogie. That's good stuff. Yeah!

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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