REVIEW: Warmduscher – At the Hotspot

I first heard ‘Wild Flowers,’ the earlier released single and centerpiece of Warmduscher’s new album, and thought, this is a novelty song good for a few spins. I had it wrong. I’ve listened to it well over thirty times now, with no sign of slowing down.

It’s a profane catalogue of grievances (‘Fuck this cheap cologne on my neck and this stupid beard I’ve been ridin’…Fuck that old lady uh giving me that fucking stinkeye’) set to a tune that could be a lost Gap Band/Bee Gee’s collaboration. Our protagonist is just hoping to get through the day to make it to “the Hotspot.” (“Fuck it all, motherfucker, I’m going straight to the Hotspot.”) Well, it hits my buttons. The song is crude and funny and just relatable as all hell. A fantastic Monday morning song.

I had never heard of this band, a spinoff from Fat White Family and Paranoid London, until I ran across this song. I was then excited about this album, because there is a respectable lineage—no, not respectable–but a lineage, nevertheless, of what I would call the ‘serious unserious’ band. Feel free to flip those adjectives.

As I listened to this new one and then the two earlier albums, about which I was entirely ignorant before (this is the Warmduscher’s third album), I was reminded of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Butthole Surfers. JSBX dug into a scuzzy blues/funk sound and the Surfers created a wicked cocktail, Texas psychedelia with a splash of hardcore. Both bands had tongues firmly in cheek, but were not yucking it up. Warmduscher taps into this vein. With disco!

The band may have started as a lark. They may be goofing around. But, they’re not fucking around.

One thing I love about this album is that it puts ‘Wild Flowers’ at the pivot of the album. The album begins with ‘Live at the Hotspot’, which is later in the chronology of a day in the life of our hero. It’s a slowed down, drugged out (and funny) counterpart to, now decades old, The Specials’ ‘Night Club.’

To a relaxed groove, a cocktail bar band on a funky cruise ship, the protagonist greets his ‘friends.’ The late entry of some glockenspiel in the song gives it a little Weimar Republic flavor. This guy and his generation are worn out. Who can blame them?

And, then, we hear the shit he has to go through while dreaming of his night at this sketchy nirvana, giving the song a strange poignancy that I never expected it to have. Is there a nomination for song couplet of the year? ‘Live at the Hotspot/Wild Flowers’ is my early frontrunner for this made up category. Tragicomedy, with a beat I can dance to.

The remainder of the album is a mix of fractured fables (‘Big Toe Joe’, ‘Super Cool’) and warped tableaus (‘Twitchin’ in the Kitchen’’ ‘Fatso’). ‘Twitchin’ and ‘Fatso’ could be outtakes from either of JSBX’s Orange or Acme. Both of those albums are classics as far as I’m concerned. ‘Twitchin’ has the cheer squad vocals straight out of the Acme song ‘Bernie.’ ‘Fatso’ adds to an obvious JSBX call back a musical quotation from The Spinners’ ‘Rubberband Man’. For my money, you cannot go wrong with that combo.

The album’s closer, ‘Greasin’ Up Jesus’ (such a Butthole Surfers song title) starts off as an extra-louche Steely Dan (not easily done!) and then, half-way through, changes to funky Supertramp. It’s as awesome as I just made it sound.

Put this album on at your next party. Loud. Find out who your friends really are. At the very least, the Bon Iver fans will leave and then you can really have some fun. You’ve just created a Hotspot!

Words by Rick Larson

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