Heavy Trash – S/T

One thing you can always count on Jon Spencer for is irreverent, funny lyrics. Unlike many other roots-rockers, Spencer has always attacked any retro style with a tongue-in-cheek approach that sets him apart from the pack. Heavy Trash, the band, is the first time Spencer (of Blues Explosion fame) and Matt Verta-Ray (Speedball Baby, Madder Rose) have teamed up on their own outside the constrains of other projects. Verta-Ray fits perfectly into this duo, and their self-titled album is a fine collection of rockabilly infused with twangy country, Americana, and a bit of blues.

The album starts off with the bouncy “Dark Hair’d Rider,” one of the more straightforward rockabilly tunes, before moving to “Lover Street” with Spencer emulating early-Elvis like nobody’s business. “The Loveless” kicks the album into gear and really gets things moving. The lyrics here like, “I got my name on the back of my shirt,” are one of many instances where Spencer takes little jabs at rockabilly and the hipsters who love this type of music.

“Walking Bum” and “Under the Waves” are both fine bits of country-noir, while “Fix These Blues” lands somewhere between an R&B ballad and the blues. “Mr. K.I.A.” is probably the most modern sounding of this retro collection of songs, but it still has all the strut and swagger you’d expect. For all the dabbling in different styles, rockabilly is still king for Heavy Trash. Spencer and Verta-Ray are at their best when letting the rockabilly rhythm carry them, as on “Justine Alright” and “This Day is Mine.” The only dud on the album is “Gatorade,” one of the worst odes to cunnilingus ever to disgrace an otherwise top-notch album.

Although the band uses plenty of guest musicians supplying a variety of instruments, Heavy Trash is still a Spencer and Verta-Ray creation from start to finish. Between the two guys, they not only played bass, electric guitar, drums, organ, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, and synths, but they also did all the recording and engineering in Matt’s New York studio. Although the duo apparently took over a year to put this release together, their laid-back approach has resulted in a fun album. Like the Blues Explosion, you will either love this or hate it. I fully expect that rockabilly purists will find the Heavy Trash to be absolute garbage, but those who like their retro music chock full of sex and alcohol with plenty of sneering will find a great new party album.