No Quarter Records, 2010
The music of Endless Boogie embodies the band’s name perfectly as each of their songs reduces the history of American rock to a single riff, which is then repeated endlessly. It sounds something like Canned Heat adhering to the compositional strictures of Neu! with Träd, Gräs och Stenar hanging around on stage brushing the hair out of their eyes. Their music is so obvious that no one’s ever thought of it, possibly because it’s below thought, a distillation of the most visceral, mind-numbing, and joy-inducing elements of a trip down a ’70s freeform radio dial. It’s an inherently stupid sound—’70s blues-rock—made even stupider through reduction, until it breaks through the other side and becomes the closest thing to a transcendent, antithought experience that contemporary music is able to offer. Live, the spiraling, repetitive grooves and nearly constant fuzzed-out soloing of front man Paul “Top Dollar” Majors (a world-renowned collector of psych records) is at first refreshingly straightforward, then boring, and, finally, after you switch off your brain like a robot powering down, pure white-light heaven.
Full House Head, their new record, captures this quicksilver in fits and starts, while at the same time expanding their palette slightly, including a couple of slow-burners alongside the usual barnstormers. “Slow Creep,” coming after about 15 minutes of single-minded jamming, is a revelation, opening up with five minutes of a barely-there guitar figure before subtly transforming into a mellow but tense rocker. Dynamics are normally not Boogie’s thing. Major’s singing is, as usual, more of croak, his lyrics often indecipherable when not completely inaudible, the vocals more bookends to the vast expanses of droning riffs than anything else. On “Slow Creep,” though, Majors goes beyond the cartoonish singing of Focus Level, their previous album, and sounds genuinely menacing.
As good as Full House Head is, though, Endless Boogie are best enjoyed live, where they really stretch out and nuance becomes an afterthought. I haven’t smiled so much at a live rock concert since 1990, when I saw Steppenwolf and the Edgar Winter Band playing at the County Fairgrounds. The band members are well into middle age and don’t seem too concerned about “making it.” They just want to play, for a very long time, at high volume. They raise this amateur approach to the level of art by focusing, with incredible discipline, on chasing single monolithic choogle out on the horizon.
—Clinton Krute is a writer, translator, and filmmaker from western Colorado. He lives in Brooklyn.