Kick in the Eye – Rock and Roll Needs a Kick in the Eye

Kick in the Eye
Rock and Roll Needs a Kick in the Eye

Is there really any place for good ol’ rock and roll anymore? I suppose that question has been raised so many times in the past 25 years that its mere repetition here probably seems somewhat redundant, but I’ll admit that I was becoming one who had finally given up on the old girl. Radiohead was sounding closer to Aphex Twin than Pink Floyd, Pavement broke up, and the Rolling Stones hadn’t released a decent album in 20 years. Then the White Stripes, the Strokes, et al hit with full force and distorted guitars and gritty swagger returned to remind us how fun simple music could be. Kick in the Eye fancy themselves as sitting somewhere in the middle of the rock and roll continuum.
A husband and wife (or is it brother and sister?) duo a la the White Stripes, but with Marian Lochrie covering bass and vocals instead of drums (which are apparently provided by a friend/studio musician) and Donnie Lochrie handling guitar and vocals, Kick in the Eye run through much of the same territory (traditional blues, country, rock) as the famed red and white Detroit rockers but with considerably less growl. In fact, most of the tracks on this five-song EP don’t really present anything of much distinction at all, which is truly the death knell of a band that wants to delve into rock revivalism. A tight, but rather unimaginative, cover of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Yer Hips” leads off the set, although it comes off as a somewhat reheated rendition of the version that the Stones did on their classic Exile On Main Street. Marian Lochrie’s cutely vulnerable vocals do the song justice but almost seem to be parodying Mick Jagger’s pronunciation, which itself was aping the blues original. The following “Hurricane” is a sunny paean to Chuck Berry/early Beach Boys-era highway rock, but even with nice hooks and sugary choruses, it just doesn’t survive the repetition of lines like “Girl you’re mine, I can’t get enough of you” and “Ooohhhh”s.
The lively “Stop Messin’ My Heart Around” returns to the formula of the previous song, but Donnie Lochrie’s nasal twang mixes with Marian Lochrie’s squeaky preciousness to create a rather flat effect. Pleasantly mindless rock but nothing to write home about. The following cover of the Carter Family classic “No Depression,” however, is a true low point in the history of recorded music. With Donnie and Marian assuming faux-southern accents and delivering the rather serious ethos of the song with call-and-response mock hickishness, the track never becomes anything more than utterly obnoxious. (For a much better update of the tune, check out Uncle Tupelo’s album of the same name). “Thirty Miles” ends where you might expect, more Chuck Berry-styled guitar and big candy choruses. Competent but hardly essential, on this track at least, their arrangement and vocals are more ingratiating than grating.
Overall, it’s hard to write off a band on the virtues of a five-song EP, but Kick in the Eye are going to have to try harder to create a little novelty, find a distinctive sound, or discover a marketable trait, or they may have trouble finding much of an audience for their retread rock. Maybe turn up the distortion a little, sing with a little more conviction, and write a song that doesn’t attempt to recreate sound that should have been constructed before they were born. Still, it’s nice to know that there are folks like this still playing the good ol’ rock for the fun of it. I guess I just need a little more prodding to have much fun riding this warn out warhorse.