Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit
Review by Kent Manthie
Austin, TX’s Saustex Media has proudly just released the newest from South Texas legends, Hickoids, a band whose history goes way back to 1984. Their original “run” went from ’84 to 1991. It was in those heady days before technology and robots took over things, when there was still genuine spirit in the arts. But that’s another story…
Now, three albums into “Hickoids Version 2”, the long-awaited Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit has just hit the street. The Austin Chronicle observed, of Hickoids’ continuing adventures in music, that they’re “still as badass as ever”
The album starts out with a bang-up job on “Fruit Fly” a rowdy, beery, hazy rock, like a brick through a plate glass window. “TJ”, a “balls-to-the-wall blast” harkens back to the days of “version 1”, since, at least, the first bit of the tune was started back in the mid-late 1980s days, by singer/songwriter Jeff Smith, who was the primary songwriter back in the good old days; he’s also one of the links from the past to today’s Hickoids – the song was also written with Pepe Lopez of the Dallas-based Loco Gringos. The song keeps showing up in Hickoids live set list over the years and with that kind of practice, it’s finally been “put to bed” so to speak, sparking up the raw, pull-no-punches, kick-ass rocker that it is today.
Today’s Hickoids consists of the aforementioned singer, Jeff Smith, Tom “Tony” Truskovic on guitar, Davy Jones, also on guitar and vocals too, Rice Moorehead on bass and vocals and Lance “Slowpoke” Farley on Drums and percussion.
The music on Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit is made up of raw and gritty rock, some country-rockabilly hybrids and they add a bit of Tex-Mex spice here and there. Besides the opener, “Fruit Fly”, another real rocker is “Stop It, You’re Killing Me”, a guitar-heavy pistol that runs to just under seven minutes. “TJ” is a kind of mix of rock ‘n’ roll and country: Texas-style, that is. “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me” and “Cool Arrow” have more of a country vibe to it, but in a good way. What’s great about Hickoids is that they don’t sound dissonant or inconsistent by changing up their sounds, each tune is in just the right order and, fast or slow, they’re all smoking hot. In fact, some of the guitar licks are reminiscent of Greg Ginn’s pacing, sometimes frenetic grunge (Black Flag and SST Records founder Greg Ginn, I mean) and sometimes I’m reminded of the groovy pre-punk killer Stooges albums, like Funhouse, on which the jams just go on and on, seamlessly to the end. “The Working Man’s Friend” is a slowed down rocker, but don’t dare call it a ballad, because it isn’t close!
One thing that Hickoids have which a lot – or even most – bands who have the history they have, or even more, is that even though they’re in what one might call a “comeback” vein or, as was mentioned, “version two”, they still have “it”. They are not washed up dudes who used to be great and now are only going through the motions in order to have an income, they still have their hearts in it and, though their lineup has changed a little since they first formed back in 1984, their new stuff is damn interesting and I would LOVE to see them play live at a club – some dark, smoky place, where people are jumping up and down, the drinks are being poured and once they hit the stage, I can see these guys wanting to play on and on – up to or maybe past closing time. They really have that moxie in them.
Besides having one of the best album titles I’ve heard in a long, long time (Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit), the CD cover is done well too: a must-see. With the demise of just about all chain record stores, the only places you can go are independent record stores nowadays – but that’s because of the internet-based ways of buying, such as Amazon.com and similar sites, but there’s also Saustex’s site, which I’d recommend visiting – you can get it through that too. Their URL is: www.saustex.com. Definitely a delight and worth the wait! Check it out! -KM.