As it plays, I will be reviewing Hot Stove Jimmy’s “Theme For A Major Hit” (2000) produced by Steve Albini.
- Ten Win
This album is really loud. It opens up with some controlled guitar screeches, moves onto some up-beatish horns, and then the chorus is screaming and pounding drums. Repeat. It’s menacing from the very start. These are all good things, to me. I have no idea what this dude is singing about, but for an apparent 3rd wave ska album it is pretty brutal.
Opens with dark organ and then the beat picks. There’s a certain circus sound to the loping of the beat and the horns, obviously, but it’s sort of like John Wayne Gacy circus. “Your legs don’t feel like/like they used to.” I rarely pay attention to lyrics, but with on-the-fly reviews you sort of have to, and I’ve determined that’s a good lyric in my mind.
- Tastes Like Texas
Blare of horns to open and then the pace quickens. With any other singer, no organ, and no Albini this might sound like a regular ska song from 1999–but those are all pretty big components, thankfully. As compared to a lot of the ska albums I used to listen to and now wince at, these horns and sound in general (again, probably in no small part to Albini) sound really good.
- Good Dresser
Ominous guitar fiddling and then horns. The singer delivers the opening in more of a whisper than a scream. Eventually the howling comes back and it sort of gets you in the gut. Mixed in with the heavy guitars, it reminds me a bit of Girls Against Boys.
- West Wing
Upbeat guitars, fast beat; coming close to other ska of the time. But then the bridge fucks it up in the best way and makes it noisy and screeching. I guess some of these songs sound the same, but they all put me in a certain mood which I appreciate. It’s hard to listen to these songs passively.
- A Bet Down
I lost track of the last song because Joe and I are fighting about Diablo Cody via a mailing list. But this song is a little slower, with less screaming. There’s kind of a threatening sultriness to this album. Does that make any sense?
There’s less distortion than others to start of this song. The singer sings as opposed to whispering or screaming. The organ doesn’t sound circusy. I like this song, but I think it’s the least notable so far.
- Put Some Water On It
The circus comes back. And so do the driving horns and distortion. I feel like I should re-iterate how loud this album can be at times.
- Down Sides Ahead
You could probably skank to the beginning of this song. People would think you’re really bringing back ’97 and you’d talk about seeing Less Than Jake. But then you might wonder why this band never came to your town.
- Her Name In Lights
Kind of metaly, I guess. And then it gets to these discordant upstrokes and yelps. For what this album and band was, this gets very unexpected. Again: So many loud sounds!
- Like Snakes and Horses
Other bands and singers that come to mind while listening: Tom Waits, These Arms Are Snakes. This song goes between hard and slightly less hard, but is filled with plenty of atmospheric touches. Not usually done for this genre and era, this actually feels like a complete album with a bigger vision than checkers and “pickitup” shouts.
Header photo stolen from d-tale, the only person on Flickr who has a picture of Hot Stove Jimmy.