The successive breakups of The Hot Snakes and Rocket From the Crypt in the past few years were pretty huge bummers. I never even got to see The Hot Snakes live, what with poor planning on my part the handful of times I had the chance, and their relatively minimal touring due to vocalist Rick Froberg living on the other side of the country. Given that John Reis has been in at least six bands, it seemed like only a matter of time until we’d hear new music from him in some form or another. Yet throughout 2006 and 2007, the typically prolific Reis didn’t release anything of his own, though he did keep busy running Swami Records and recording bands. He also opened a swanky bar recently as well. Still, those expecting more rockin’ riffs from the Reis camp just had to stay patient.
In 2008, however, Reis unveiled his latest project, The Night Marchers, which also features former Hot Snakes bassist Gar Wood (on guitar), CPC Gangbangs bassist Thomas Kitsos and drummer Jason Kourkounis, also formerly of the Hot Snakes. Not quite as huge as Rocket From the Crypt, not quite as abrasive as the Hot Snakes, and not nearly as simple and brief as The Sultans, The Night Marchers incorporates each of these bands’ strengths into a fuzzy mix of overdrive, melody and grit.
See You In Magic, the band’s full-length debut, is a damn fine garage rock record. Much like The Black Lips, who Reis has recorded in the past, The Night Marchers strengthen their raw, urgent rock explosions with great melodies, catchy choruses and production that, while not overly polished, enhances each song, rather than leave a trail of analog hiss. Leadoff track “Closed For Inventory,” though somewhat stripped down, rocks heartily with woozy vibrato guitars and an insistent drum stomp. “In Dead Sleep (I Snore ZZZZ)” is all reverb and short, choppy chords, until the ascendant, incredible chorus.
Three perfectly chiming chords tease the intro to “I Wanna Deadbeat You,” while the song itself is a more straightforward, hard rocking punk tune, closer in sound to Rocket From The Crypt than anything else on here, though still simpler and without the horns, of course. The group even tones it down for a soulful, funky ballad on the outstanding “You’ve Got Nerve.” Truly, this is a band that knows rock `n’ roll, and all of its varied facets and forms. Given the respective pedigrees of everyone in the band, this is not a surprise at all. I could tell just by looking at the lineup on this record that I would like it instantly, and, wouldn’t you know it, I was right!
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.