I had to take a quick minute here to mention my favorite album of 2012, Researching the Blues by Redd Kross is on heavy rotation this summer for me and I don’t see it moving far from my turntable anytime soon. After a 15 year hiatus from the studio they finally return with a brand spanking new album that has trimmed the fat and delivers ten infectiously catchy tracks of power pop. Released earlier this month on Merge records, home to bands like The Magnetic Fields, Bob Mould, Superchunk and Portland’s own Wild Flag, these punk pioneers show the kids half their age how to rock once again.
If you’re new to Redd Kross then let me give you a quick tutorial. The name Redd Kross was inspired by the “cross masturbation scene” in The Exorcist & they even have a song dedicated to Linda Blair, the first track on their 1982 lp Born Innocent. The band formed back in 1978 by Jeff & Steven McDonald, the two bothers were only fifteen and eleven years old when they played their first gig opening for Black Flag. However by 1984 they were straying away from the hardcore sound and delving into harder edged pop, proclaiming themselves the Osmonds of punk rock covering songs by the likes of KISS, The Carpenters and The Partridge Family. Redd Kross later released Neurotica in 1987 a hard rock psych glam punk album that influenced the likes of Nirvana and Sonic Youth and is considered by most Kross fans their best work. This same line up went on to record the latest album which I personally believe is their best album to date.
Redd Kross were and still are obsessed with pop culture mainly of the 70’s and referenced it in their music and imagery any chance they could get. Whether it was Sigmund the Sea Monster, Gary Coleman or songs about Planet of the Apes, Linda Blair or the writer of tv’s ALF’s drug addiction they always knew how to incorporate these themes into their music in some way. They were always a step ahead of the game, but by being ahead of their time it also hindered their success. Redd Kross should have been superstars. I mean how many other bands do you know feature Sofia Coppola nude on their album cover? Their album Third Eye from 1990 did just that. However by 1998 they called it quits and it was unlikely we’d ever see the band play live again.
So today seeing them reuniting is a truly a treat, not only are they back but they released on of the best rock and roll albums of the last decade a feat most bands doing the reunion circuit can’t claim. So the record rules but do they deliver live? I just saw them in July here in Pdx and they deliver what you’d hope for, they’ve have the enthusiasm of a newly formed band. Live they’ll rock you like you’re at an arena show. So yeah these guys are back, do yourself a favor this summer get their new album and keep the sun shining all the way through winter, you won’t regret it.