released August 26, 2010
JAN 2011 Following the demise of beloved Cincinnati bubblegum trash combo 20th Century Tokyo Princess, it was easy to anoint Wheels On Fire as the best band in Ohio of 2010. Coming from the slightly comatose and sleepy burg of Athens, Wheels On Fire didn't get the memo that rock n' roll was better back in the day, and instead worship furiously at the altar of the White Stripes, Hives, and Black Keys. Really though, what's so motherfucking wrong with that?! To an army of ears that went through boot camp trained by the clarion call of the Queers, Rancid, NOFX, Screeching Weasel, and the Mr. T Experience, the rock n' roll that Wheels On Fire crank out is hopelessly inept and trad. Sure, they talk about pretty girls a lot, but they do it without the slick sophistication of the 90s pop-punk tribe. That very same slick sophistication plants those bands squarely in 1995 and leaves them there in a frozen, severely shiny time capsule. Pop-punk got all hung up with perfectionism and kinda defeated the whole purpose of the whole punk rock thing in the first place. It was supposed to be the vessel of real live kids bashing out noisy, stupid pop songs, and that's exactly what Wheels On Fire do with reckless abandon. Their second LP features a run of AMAZING tracks called "Losin'," "Ambulance," "Land Of Haunted Houses," and "Black Moon" that stand right up there with the best of '60s garage, '70s punk, and the garage rock class of 2000. These folks aren't concerned with professionalism or establishing a mood or adding some kinda epic heft to their music. They just crank out the HITS! "Ambulance" sounds like a raucous bubblegum ditty that's run off the rails, substituting the morose sadness usually associated with catching your baby with another man, and instead dishes out a beating so severe that the paramedics get involved. In place of soul-searching and refection, we get tales of haunted houses, UFOs, and alien abduction. You know, important shit! "Stick Around" is the real classic here, grabbing you around the throat with haste, relaying a tale of pussy-whipped complacency, and getting the hell out of there before you think really deep thoughts. Hell, other bands are covering it alread
RAZORCAKE MAG JAN 2011 This is some of the catchiest, peppiest, poppiest garage rock that’s ever come across these ears. Sweet and soulful chords ring out while organ swirls and tambourine, glockenspiel, and horns make cameos at this reverb-drenched sock hop. Exploding Hearts meets Tommy James And The Shondells. The Real Kids and Flamin’ Groovies split a bill, sharing a van and some beers with The Swinging Medallions and Question Mark and the Mysterians. That’s what you get here. All of it is absolutely delightful and a joy to listen to (JP)
ROCTOBER (USA) April 2011 If this record was just a mixtape with the Castaways' "Liar, Liar" looped over and over it still wouldn't be as catchy and fun as the platter party thrown here by these Ohio-based, fuzzed out, Kassenetz-Katz-worshippers. Bonus: deliciously inept pop theremin playing! (x)
GRUNNEN ROCKS VERA DEC 2010 Vera didn't give us many thrills this year, as punkrock or ANY music from a garage now has a too-small fanbase in Groningen it seems, and though the new crop of youth gives a bit of hope, the average age at "those" shows tends to be 40+. We're from the old guard, from the time the place regularly went wild in front of the podium. We may not be THAT wild any more, but at least we move, and yell to show we're loving it - if we think it's crap, we go stand at the bar. But these days, when a great band like Wheels on Fire gives a beyond-fantastic show, the so-called youth just stands there as if they're watching a video on YouTube. Or they hold up a camera to indeed MAKE such a video. Or, worse still, they stand with their backs to the band, right in front of the stage.
Well, perhaps we're on the way to being "grumpy old men", but at least that's always better than lifeless zombies."