Release Date: Mar 24, 2009
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, Edsel. They passed away peacefully years ago and got reincarnated as straight-ahead indie garage rock band Obits. In the hands of Jehu/Hot Snakes' Rick Froberg and Edsel's Sohrab Habibion, it's Hot Snakes' sound that most notably lives on. And hype suggests good old rock 'n' roll will live on in this band.
As the new millennium loomed, the Dictators posed the musical question "Who will save rock & roll?" and it seems like plenty of folks are still searching for an answer to that particular puzzle. In the early months of 2008, a handful of fans placed their hopes in the Obits, a new band featuring some guys who'd launched worthy campaigns on rock's behalf in the past -- Rick Froberg (ex-Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes), Sohrab Habibion (formerly with Edsel) and Scott Gursky (who also plays with Shortstack). After playing a single gig in New York City, a bootlegged live tape of the Obits made its way onto the internet (as does everything these days) and before long seemingly every hipster blogger who still thrilled to the sound of electric guitars was talking up the new band, with Sub Pop getting excited enough to sign the Obits before they could even get around to self-releasing a single.
While many are still recovering from the loss of Hot Snakes, their principals have wasted no time resurfacing: first, John Reis and drummer Jason Kourkounis in the Night Marchers, and now the debut from Snakes' singer and guitarist Rick Froberg with Obits. Froberg has a long legacy to live up to-- if he didn't want albatrosses like Drive Like Jehu or Hot Snakes around his neck, he should have been in bands that were less awesome-- but while there's evidence of growth here, there's not enough change to alienate fans. If they can appreciate a little less mania and a little more melody, I Blame You will be a comfortable fit.
Rick Froberg has been one of the steadiest performers in indie rock for quite a while. After the edgy math-rock greatness that was Drive Like Jehu, he emerged again with another band, Hot Snakes, that was just as exciting and brashly amazing. But he didn’t rehash his old sound with Hot Snakes, instead tightening up the frenetic energy of his old band into three excellent albums of taut, hard-hitting, and volatile rock music.
How to describe Rick Froberg’s voice?: A perfectly enunciated cry of accusation? A shout that never veers off-key? A seemingly flat delivery somehow pregnant with emotion? Powerful and distinctive, these vocals rank among the most memorable in quote-unquote indie rock, whether keening “ALOHA” over the discordant drone of Drive Like Jehu or inducing concert halls to scream “Ben Gurion! Ben Sheikh!” along with Hot Snakes. Froberg’s singing style is so singular, it ensures that few of his bands will depart significantly from his previous projects. Not that this particularly matters: Both Jehu and Hot Snakes preternaturally sound like a lot of music that preceded them in a way that makes it almost impossible to pinpoint precisely who or what they resemble.