The Hot Snakes – Automatic Midnight

The Hot Snakes
Automatic Midnight

Call it a super group, call it what you will, but when it all boils down to it, no matter what other bands the members of The Hot Snakes are in, Automatic Midnight is a rockin’ record. Of course you can’t listen to it and not hear The Drive Like Jehu and Rocket From The Crypt influences – that is just inevitable. Any side project for any musician is going to in some way or another wind up sounding like their other bands to an extent, especially when each band basically has the same people in different variations.
There are songs on this record that sound more like one (DLJ) than the other (RFTC). Almost all of the songs are good. For the most part Rick Fork is the Hot Snakes front man. One would be hard pressed to mistake his gritty and combative vocals. Although John Reis only does vocals on a couple of the tracks, his presence is not left to assumption due to his guitar work. “Our Work Fills the Pews,” for example, is one of the many catchy songs on this CD. With an intermittent “Woo” shouted throughout the chorus of “uh hugh hugh’s,” you can’t help but tap your toe.
The CD opens with “If Credit What Matters,” one of those songs you probably shouldn’t listen to while driving unless you enjoy getting speeding tickets. It’s a real adrenaline pumper. In the middle of the CD, there is a celestial theme with “10th Planet” and “Light Up the Stars” back to back. Both tunes are ear candy, and they’re probably the best on the CD.
Jason Koorkanis, of The Delta 72’s is the bombinating force behind the Hot Snakes. With his drumming, he gives the band a more “black hair dye” type feel. I assume he is who is responsible for having Kim Thompson (also of Delta 72 fame) do some guest vocals. On first listen, the female voice on “Salton City” could be mistaken for a clip from a Japanamation cartoon. That track is a good example of the one real downfall of this record. At times, it’s a little redundant. You find yourself waiting for the guitar change.
John Ries is apparently quite a prolific song writer. Between this album and the recent release of his solo record under the moniker Back Off Cupid, this man is saturating the music market. Automatic Midnight was written in the span of six days, spread out over two months, by John and Jason. When it came time for vocals, John just didn’t feel up to par, hence the call to the obvious choice – Rick. Rick wrote words to 11 out of the 20 songs John and Jason had written, added some very DLJ-ish cover art to the mix, and a record was born.
Could indie rock icons like this really do any wrong? Was there any real way that this review would sound any different than it does? These people are loved and adored and have fans for a reason: they are all three very good at what they do. The material is already written for a second record, so fans can keep their fingers crossed. There is no denying that all the members of The Hot Snakes are very talented musicians and song writers. Sure they have their flaws, but who doesn’t.