New York Music Daily

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Tag: white stripes

The Naked Heroes Bring Their High-Voltage, Charismatic Assault to Grand Victory and the Rockaways

When the Naked Heroes’ George Jackson takes a flying leap from the stage, clears a monitor, lands directly in front of you and then slams you – all the while wailing on his Strat – you know you’ve been hit. With primal punk energy, a sly new wave sense of humor and lots of danceable, catchy tunes, there’s no other band in New York who sound anything like them. They’re very visual, too. They love to stop songs on a dime and then restart them…or leap from one into another. Jackson is a very expressive performer with his googly-eyed monster-movie faces, sometimes droll, sometimes with more than a hint of menace. Much as a lot of what he does is completely over-the-top, a lot of it isn’t, leaving room for the possibility of genuine danger. Meanwhile, statuesque drummer/singer Merica Lee sometimes hangs back with a swing groove, other times bounding around the stage, walloping on a tom-tom or a sampler loaded with explosive dancefloor thuds.

At the band’s show Saturday night at the Poisson Rouge, she was rocking a black-leather Catwoman-style bodysuit that didn’t leave much to the imagination. The mustachioed Jackson stuck to basic black jeans and shoes, with a button-down shirt left open to midway down the chest, his Robinson Crusoe necklace flying as he romped across the stage and then out over it to bodyslam the likes of unsuspecting music bloggers.

The band’s songs are as simple and irresistibly catchy as their beats. One of the set’s early numbers worked a feral, tribal early 80s Antmusic groove, Jackson blasting out a terse, mimalist two-chord vamp over it. There’s a lot of call-and-response, and wry repartee between the duo, sometimes involving the audience, in this case on an Ike & Tina Turner cover. Jackson is a hell of a guitarist (and bassist, as evidenced by his time as one of Lorraine Leckie‘s Demons) – who saves the flash for when he really needs it. His most impressive fretwork came on an unexpectedly ornate intro to a ballad that evoked Hendrix’s Little Wing without ripping it off. Likewise, the songs’ raw but incredibly tight riffage brought to mind bands as diverse as the White Stripes, the Black Keys, the Cramps and Bow Wow Wow without being imitative. On one number, Jackson went behind the kit and held down a beat on the kickdrum while playing guitar as Lee came out in front; by the end of the show, the two were out at the edge of stage, putting a mean dancefloor spin on an ancient gospel tune, wailing on the sampler and a single drum that Lee pummeled so hard that the mic came undone. The Naked Heroes are at Grand Victory at on Sept 16 at 8 PM, making a good segue with the 7 PM opening act, female-fronted horror punk/surf/darkwave band the Long Losts. Cover is $10. Then on Sept 27 at 5 PM the Naked Heroes are on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk.

Dark, Direct, Smart Retro Rock from Whitehorse

Whitehorse is Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. Together they make eclectic, dark garage rock which might seem like a contradiction in terms until you consider what an excellent, diverse guitarist Doucet is. Which makes it no surprise that there are numerous other genres on their album. It opens with a meandering spoken-word number set to a Marc Ribot-style noir guitar interlude that goes spiraling with a flamenco feel. Those are just two styles in Doucet’s arsenal, and they don’t return until a reprise at the end. In between there’s a lot of bluesiness, a ton of reverb and lots of vocal harmonies. Both Doucet and McClelland are strong singers, harmonizing much like the Snow’s Pierre de Gaillande and Hilary Downes.

With its simple stomping beat and lo-fi vibe, Killing Time Is Murder could be the White Stripes with brains. Emerald Isle could do without the stream-of-consciousness lyrical torrents, but the noir rockabilly tune is cool, not just because it has a glockenspiel. Passenger 24 goes back to punk-blues stomp that distantly evokes the Cramps, McClelland’s passenger high on coke alongside a “hopped-up driver chasing the moon.”

If commercial played good songs, Broken would be a monster hit (is there a college radio station where you are? Are they playing this track to death? They should be). It’s a wickedly catchy country tune disguised as backbeat rock, with a vicious duet that does justice to a Blood on the Tracks reference. “You’ve got to have a heart to have a broken one,” Doucet snarls, “I need a girl like you like a hole in the head.” The album winds up with a torchy, oldtime-flavored swing duet, McClelland’s lurid vocals backed by noir atmospherics from the organ and steel guitar. The only miss here is a pointless cover of Springsteen’s easy-listening hit I’m On Fire, which isn’t as annoying as the original but it’s pretty close. With originals as good as the rest of the tracks here, who needs covers?