The House of Assassins
Your Days Are Numbered
Jason Baldinger has certainly heard his fair share of local music as the host of WRCT-FM's "Live Band Show." Now the Underwater Culprit -- his nomme de radio on his other weekly show, "Does Your Hometown Really Care" -- straps on his own guitar and wrecks his vocal cords as frontman of the House of Assassins.
The album's nine tracks have musical references that sound familiar, but things never get derivative. Most songs are built around two- or three-chord riffs that the band bangs out with gusto. The mood feels loose but never sloppy, especially when Alan Butera staggers the beat on the opening "Springtime." The secret weapon comes with James Hart's pedal-steel guitar. When it twangs overtop of those unprocessed power chords, it adds a dimension of mutant country to the sound.
This background is ideal for Baldinger, who alternates between talk-singing and barking his stream-of-consciousness lyrics. His delivery sometimes sounds like a redneck version of the Fall's Mark E. Smith, although the group also evokes early PiL and L.A. country-punks the Gun Club, the latter especially when Baldinger occasionally misses his intended note.
Your Days are Numbered can be abrasive, especially on the nine-minute "All Horses are Assholes." But the variety of sounds, like the concluding, dreamlike "Hutcherson Ave.," and the enthusiasm of the group's performance, keep the interest level high. This album is a vinyl-only release (though it includes a CD-R), hence the irreverent name of the label, Obsolete Media.