Monday, January 31, 2011

W. H. Walker - Suds!

"Suds! All over me! Suds! I want to be clean!"

Okay, now that this song is totally stuck in my head and won't come out, I guess it's time to tell you about coolest party album of the year--W. H. Walker's Suds!. This six-song EP, which is culled from a forthcoming split 7" LP with Clorox Girls, hasn't a moody, reflective moment on it. This self-described "doo-wop boogie pop" is all about (Suds!) raw exuberance, a lo-fi party vibe and an overall sound that jumps cleanly between The Who circa 1965 and perhaps The Jam circa 1979.

W. H. Walker, which isn't a guy but a group, stands for Welcome Home Walker. This Portland-based band rose from the (Suds!) ashes of the Soda Pop Kids, a very different sounding band that broke up in 2007, and they take such musical heroes as Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy and the Rubinoos and turn them into something that's 10% nostalgia and 90% sheer hyper energy.

While the doo-wop influences are (Suds!) obvious, the rawness of W. H. Walker seems to rise from the punk scene that emerged a good fifteen or twenty years later, especially in more manic songs such as "As the Night Goes." Throw in a cover tune from a Venice, California busker ("Watch Your Step") and a genuine soul ballad ("The Untold Death of Grady Jones") and the non-stop rush of sound and beat starts to ebb and flow and show a surprising amount of (Suds!) depth amid the cigarette smoke and the spilled gin.

So, Suds! is a whole lot of fun, a slight dirty EP that smells like the wrong but much more interesting side of town, the one where you have the time of your life before you run home and try to forget what you've done the night before. A bathtub full of Suds! will do the trick, I suspect.

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