Chain & the Gang, “Best of Crime Rock”

Chain & the Gang
Best of Crime Rock
IN THE RED
6/10

Chain & the Gang belong to that subset of rockers whose perception as terrifying goofball maniacs is a big part of their image (see also Jon Spencer, The Jesus Lizard, and, of course, The Cramps, with the original strand of DNA tracing all the way back to Jerry Lee Lewis). Operating under the radar and virtually undisturbed for close to a decade, they’ve released five albums of tongue-in-cheek garage rock, “each one a brilliant tossed off sketchbook of insolence and provocation,” to quote their press materials. Helmed by post-punk workaholic musician/writer/talk show host Ian Svenonius, Chain & the Gang create immediately infectious, punky, and lowbrow slices of life in songs such as “Certain Kinds of Trash” (they “ain’t around anymore,” if you’re curious) and “Why Not?,” with its loser lament of a refrain: “I ate on the bed, I slept on the floor, I left my key hanging in the door… Why not?”

The title Best of Crime Rock might seem to suggest the greatest hits of a band called Crime Rock as recorded by Chain & the Gang, but it’s actually re-recordings of C&TG songs from across their catalog, plus two new tracks. Prior to this, their recordings were lo-fi in the extreme, with little in the way of recording finesse applied past the point of turning on the equipment; random room noise may have been deliberate, or just ignored. Under the bright lights of a more formal environment, the older material sounds great, proving that even the simplest of songs can benefit from a bit of production. 

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