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Jason Martinko Revue’s easygoing surface...and horror-punk roots

You just have to enjoy good-time rock 'n' roll without expecting any flashy hipster trappings.

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Jason Martinko Revue
Damaged Goods
Bonedog

A band like the Jason Martinko Revue should fit in well around here. They've got the danceable grooves of a rhythm 'n' blues band, the edgy swing of rockabilly cats, and a horn section that can blast it out like Huey Lewis & The News. With five musicians onstage, they make for a digestible spectacle that should pull two generations out on the floor without challenging any long-held preconceptions.

On their second album, Damaged Goods, pompadoured leader and songwriter Jason S. Martinko guides his band cleanly and soulfully through a hip-shaking set of mostly pumping originals such as "The Thief" ("I don't want to rob your diamonds / I don't want to rob your gold") and "Funky Boogie." He's on the run again, Johnny Cash-style, on "Wanted Man," and he can slow it down for a romantic, waltzy number such as "Sometimes It Rains," where he gets down on his knees and baby, baby please.

Martinko has a distinctive, if not unique, guitar style, ripping reverbed rockabilly licks like a reverent Link Wray acolyte on instrumentals such as "Rattletrap." He also has a sense of history, with traditional covers such as the Southern spiritual "Mornin' Train" (not the Sheena Easton song).

So theoretically, Martinko could become another Sputzy or Billy Price, rocking blues joints, summer fests and corporate parties for years to come.

But there's a sinister agenda beneath the surface: He's also a follower of horror-punk, like the Misfits, and a fan of Troma films, with their extreme orgies of violence and sex. Martinko's gone so far as to realize his own video version, called Gone the Way of Flesh, where the pile of blood, guts and dead young girls serves as backdrop to what is basically an hour-long promo for the band, showcasing such locales as Mitchell's Tavern, the defunct Cumpie's, the Bare Assets strip club in Braddock, and even a cameo by the blind singer Bill Dorsey, holding court with his tin cup on Forbes Avenue.

It's amusing to watch this amateur, not-for-the-timid horror flick and catch all the rampant Pittsburghisms that pop up, including a song called "It's a Strange World" that rolls off the names of a dozen East End streets. Word is they have a sequel planned with an appearance by porn king Ron Jeremy. But you don't have to be an aspiring B-movie director to appreciate the merits of this band on its second album. You just have to enjoy good-time rock 'n' roll without expecting any flashy hipster trappings.

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