Billy Syndrome - "Now" (Slutfish Records 2000, SLUT 022, CD/SLUT 031, LP)
From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)
The latest from Billy Syndrome is a set of rockers that reveal a 60's garage pop sensibility, but strives to be far rawer and more whimsical than anything that might have achieved hit status. Adding punch to the music is Syndrome's vocals which have a coarse quality that would fit quite comfortably on "Louie Louie" or "I Wanna Be Your Dog".
"Did U Die Or Wind Up In Jail?" and "Brake Jake" are my favorites among the grungy 60's pop tunes. Dig that hippy-hippy-shake on the former! One of my favorite tracks. Syndrome drags 60's pop into the garage and punks and grunges it up nicely. And speaking of punks, "How Could Something This Wonderful Happen To Us" has a dancey rockin' Ramones feel, but also reminds me of Killing Joke's "No TV Party Tonight" but far more freaked out. "Ugly Factory" is a similar thrashy tune.
Things get a bit more experimental on songs like"Louie Go Home", a garage rock track with a spacey drone running through it and a freaky drugged and dissonant chorus. "Dogs And Cats" is a quirky experimental ditty that has melody but also oddball looped bits and strange vocals. And "Mayor Song" is a bouncy good time tune with mucho quirky piano. Two other songs that despite the trademark Syndrome raw quality stray a little into complex rock territory are "Brooklyn Hillbillys" and "21st Century Blues". "Brooklyn Hillbillys" is a garage tune with a punky Reggae bass beat. The cool freaky guitar work makes the whole thing worthwhile and a bit intricate. And "21st Century Blues" brought to mind a spaced version of King Crimson due to the involved guitar and its interplay with the synths. Billy Syndrome is also a member of the kick ass acid freakout band JFK Jr Royal Airforce and the songs on 'Now', though not space rock by any means, are at their core not so far off from JFK. A "Deep Mountain Fuck" here... a "Bow wow wow, woof woof woof" there...
Vinyl junkies should not that the LP version of this disc is pressed on clear green vinyl. There's one less song than on the CD but it's one of the weaker songs on the CD ("12 Step Commandments Of Love") so I'd say go for it if you're vinylly inclined.
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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz