Erstwhile Black Flag guitarist Dez Cadena’s current band (a trio for one LP, a quartet still named D.C.3 ever since) makes albums, to quote him, “in the style of the records that used to excite us when we were young.” Unfortunately, what he and his friends (including ex-45 Grave keyboardist Paul Roessler) remember fondly is Deep Purple and Humble Pie, and the first two releases resemble various ’60s and ’70s nightmares, from Blue Öyster Cult to Black Sabbath. There’s actually some fine music and an amusing undercurrent to both, although the subtle satirical value may be missed by those too young (or too old).
With the dated influences toned down, leaving a state of pleasantly mild nostalgia, the third LP turns up the lyrical power. As Cadena’s liner notes note, “I ended up hurting someone who is very close to me. This album is about life without that person.” With singleminded dedication, selections like “Baby, You Know Where I Live,” “Party for One,” “I Ain’t Got You,” “Lost Someone” and “Talkin’ to the Mirror” verbalize his anguished cry with an intensity the upbeat music lacks.
Compiling LA performances from ’87 and ’88, Vida mixes D.C.3 originals with covers of John Lee Hooker, Hawkwind and Black Flag for an electrifying slab of smart and gutsy guitar rock that owes no debt to any era but the present. While Cadena’s vocals and playing hit just the right noisy mix of casual concentration, Roessler contributes to the din without making a fuss.
Roessler enlisted Cadena and Jeff Dahl’s rhythm section to make the enjoyable Twisted Roots, a solo album in all but name. Playing and singing melodic originals (plus the Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow”) with a slightly theatrical bent, Roessler keeps things upbeat and pleasant with chipper keyboards and enthusiastic vocals, even as Cadena sets to rocking out feverishly in the background. Is this man punk’s answer to Elton John?
Recorded with a drummer and three people rotating on bass and guitar, Abominable is a jolly instrumental romp through somber film-less scores, skating rink music, phantom-of-the-punk-club eccentricities and pompless ELP-styled classics (“Prokofiev Boogie” takes Peter and the Wolf out of the woods), all solidly composed and proficiently played. I wouldn’t want to hear too many more records like this, but Abominable is quite entertaining on its own terms.
Except for brother-in-law Mike Watt playing bass and co-producing the five simple tracks, The Crimony E.P. is more solo work from Roessler, who tickles the ivories and sings jaunty numbers like “Life Is Too Short” and “Vampire Party” and solemn ballads like “Prison Blues.” There isn’t much interaction between the two men, but the songs and performances are enjoyable enough.