Jen and the Juice, Meet the Hooligans of Bohemia: Four Stars
• Genre(s): Funk, swing, jazz, singer/songwriter
• You’ll like it if: You lack the Neanderthal gene that disregards music celebrating independent womanhood
• Defining song: “Butt Sweat and Beer” — The title alone deserves recognition. Be forewarned: Despite the deep grooves, a disturbing sound lurks on the song that can only be described as a collision between perspiration and … ahem … anal unrest.
One will be hard-pressed to find a better summer soundtrack than Jen and the Juice’s debut disc Meet the Hooligans of Bohemia. Jen Greer’s playful-yet-assured voice (nestled somewhere between Lucinda Williams and G. Love) contemplates typical summer conundrums: the undecipherable hieroglyphics of love, forsaking the rat race, and being strategic with the party life. Clever wordplay (all the songs were written by Greer) keeps these familiar subjects from watering down, and her slew of guests makes each song distinct. Names like Billy Constable (Sassagrass), Woody Wood, and Ryan Cox and Bill Cardine (both of the Biscuit Burners) give the Juice that Appalachian soul, while names like Stephanie Morgan and Valorie Miller add some jazzy silk. Jen’s Juice mates (Clint Weninegar, upright bass; Joe Buzzelli, drums; and Michael Libramento, lead guitar) can certainly hold up on their own. Their lounge grooves meld nicely with Greer’s poetic trip-hopping.
Crank County Daredevils at Stella Blue; Saturday, May 20: Four Stars
• Genre(s): Sleaze rock, metal
• Be glad you stayed home if: You scare easily
• Defining moment: The second they stepped onto stage. Tranquility ebbed, replaced by surly guitars that eradicated every quiet corner.
Damn those Crank County Daredevils! My eardrums are paste, there’s a ringing in my head that won’t abate, and I have this intense desire to bathe in liquor. Still, I can’t bear a grudge against the lovable foursome that takes me back to the days when shouting at the devil meant something. Armed with dark makeup, nightmare-summoning tattoos and attitudes reminiscent of tigers trapped in telephone booths, they’ve taken the elements of ’80s metal (Moetley Cruee, Faster Pussycat, W.A.S.P.) and given them 21st-century makeovers. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Lead singer/guitarist Scott Lanning sings like he’s been gargling with snake poison, while at the same time saluting the crowd with his middle finger. Guitarists Adam Stevens and Billy Velvet understand vintage metal poses, including the classic legs spread in “V” formation while guitar-gunning the crowd. Of course, a metal show would not be complete without the gratuitous sticks twirl by drummer Mark Hammer. Amped-up like a trailer park meth lab, each song (especially the classic “Kings of Sleaze” and the new track “Living in the Red”) attacks the listener, leaving lesser mortals afraid for their lives.
[When he’s not bending readers to his will, Hunter Pope cooks, gardens, hikes and spends his mortgage money on CDs he’s never heard.]