Release Date: Oct 26, 2009
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
On their third album, 2009's Midnight Soul Serenade, Heavy Trash keep delivering the good old rock & roll, rockabilly, and hillbilly soul that their first two albums handed out like candy at a Fourth of July parade. Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray hit their stride right away on their debut and continue to be nothing short of great. They make no great changes to their sound here; it's still loose as geese on the rockers and pleasantly spooky on the ballads.
It's a Beatles world, which partly explains why I respect Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray for casting their lots so unequivocally with Elvis and sticking with it for so damn long. Midnight Soul Serenade is their third album together as Heavy Trash, and the duo continue to reinterpret the King of Rock'n'Roll and his early-rock noblemen as raunchy, bug-eyed Ralph Bakshi cartoons. That's not to say their schtick isn't schtick or that it doesn't constantly threaten to expire on every song.
It’s no coincidence that the album cover for each of Heavy Trash’s three records has been a drawing—after all, there’s something more than a little cartoony about the offerings coming from HT’s Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray; to reduce their revved-up, sorta-ironic-but-still-fun as-hell rockabilly/trashrock raves to something as straightforward as a photograph would be to sell the band seriously short. I didn’t think JS and MVR were going to find a more apropos image to accompany their sound than the cover of 2007’s Tony Millionaire-drawn Going Way Out With Heavy Trash, which depicted our bindle-and-guitar-toting heroes chasing a train under a UFO-saturated sky… until I opened Midnight Soul Serenade and saw on the inside cover an ink and paper drawing of two snarling dogs leaping out of a Victrola along with the words “romance” and “worry”—and oh, the devil’s sitting on the record player, strumming a guitar. Game, set, match goes to artist Jean-Luc Navette.
Retro daredevils dust off rock ’n’ roll roots Souped-up rockabilly duo Heavy Trash deftly restores and reinvigorates the primitive era of rock and blues on its third LP, offering tinny, gritty and gnarled throwback production that pays tribute to the golden days of greasers. The band is revved by a mixture of Jon Spencer’s raw vocal ravings and Matt Verta-Ray’s fervid guitar peals. Frenzies like “Gee, I Really Love You” and “Bumble Bee” illustrate Spencer’s droll disposition and sound like a collaboration between Buddy Holly and Mick Jagger.