Friday, June 28, 2013

The Janitors-Drone Head 2X LP (2013)

Swagger is acrucial element in all blues-based rock 'n' roll. Simply put: Can you do justice to the Son House and Blind Willie McTell riffs at the base of your sound, no matter how many effects pedals you got? Or are you hiding behind these effect pedals 'cause there's nothing worthwhile behind the distortion? Nick Cave brought this sort of bravismo to new heights with his pre-Boatman's Call work. Unfortunately, swagger and unabashedly macho posturing has gone the way of the dodo of late. Of course, nine times out of ten, macho posturing is boring at best, repulsive at worst: think of hair metal. But when done right, as an organic component of the music instead of as idiotic chest-thumping, it's a good thing.

The Janitors and San Francisco's The Chaw are two of the only contemporary bands that can pull it off. Along with Annesley's much-missed Meat Thump, these bands' heavy, sleazy vibe is perfect for sordid living of all sorts. The Janitors and The Chaw are similar in another sense: both have a heavily cinematic quality that fills out their rock 'n' roll core, and makes it more compelling after repeated listening.

Listening to the Janitors' debut LP, this cinematic feeling runs straight through the two EPs and several new tracks found therein. Heavy guitars and a prominent rhythym section are key components to their sound, but the organ and killer production create an entire world you can lose yourself in. It's a ballsy move for your vinyl debut to consist in large part of previously-released material, but the Janitors' debut EPs fit together into a whole, much like the individual bricks make up the bar you like to pass out behind, after a long bender.

"Strap Me Down" sticks in my head after repeated listening. Agonizingly, mesmerizingly slow guitar stomp; menacing organs that swirl in and out of focus; and muttered, then howled vocals that are an indecipherable but essential part of the vicious grey stew the Janitors specialize in. "A-Bow," however, is the LP's cornerstone. Clocking in at 12:29, it sums up everything fun in the Janitors' sound. The first five minutes sound like a Morricone out-take, straddling the line between spaced out rock and spaghetti western majesty. The tension finally explodes around 5:30 into heavy, drawn out classic rock riffing with enough organs to keep monotony at bay. "A-Bow" is
a glorious, and gloriously ambitious, piece of blues stomp with more depth and space than most music in this tradition.

Basically, the Janitors are what would happen if the White Stripes were as good as you always wanted them to be: innovative instead of simply adept; lewd instead of gentlemanly; and, ultimately, more interested in worming their way into your brain than in temporary aural fireworks. This is slow-burn scuzz rock with a vengeance.

Check it out here. The vinyl drops July 15th, complete with a gatefold sleeve perfect for staring at when blasted on speed and acid. You can pre-order your copy from Cardinal Fuzz Records.


  1. Man, when are we going to get some janitorial services in Bellevue. You guys need to come by here soon!

  2. These guys love the Janitors and are janitors themselves! ---well actually, they are carpet cleaners in Renton. They are my favorite guys!