Music Reviews: Speedbuggy * Voodoo Glow Skulls * The Ziggens

Cowboys & Aliens
Cargo Records

Throw the Clash (circa London Calling), a dash of early X, the spleen from a green spaceman, and half a herd of cattle into a blender behind the bar at San Diego’s Casbah, and you might just pour a southern Speedbuggy shake. Emerging from the thriving cow punk/rockabilly scene San Diego has entertained for years, Speedbuggy stacks their wattage up admirably against local legends Rocket From the Crypt, and respectfully manages to stand apart. Something to be said in that alone, for Speedbuggy has found a way through convincing, bouncy, western-tinged jangles to infuse heart and passion into a seamless package. Speedbuggy ain’t for the light-skinned or those akin to a virgin beverage—but if you take your rockin’ loaded and potent, this is the gen-u-ine product.

Epitaph Records

While the Glow Skulls have carved themselves a significant piece of the punk/ska counterculture to represent—and do so admirably, with this infused new collection—their insistence on dwelling on their perceived lack of respect in the community is unsettling. The Glow Skulls exert a good portion of their energy and attention at dismissing what they refer to as the “3rd wave” of punk, while simultaneously and unequivocally declaring they are back to stay. It’s kinda like the king of the mountain worrying about the hikers working their way up the side of the hill. When you’re already on top, giving such ardent attention to your competitors only takes away from your own credence. Voodoo Glow Skulls would be wise to step away from this juvenile competition, and let their music do the fighting. If its respect they want, it would be satisfying to hear mention of those who toiled before them, who laid the foundation on which they stand. I’m sure Fishbone, Bad Brains and 24-7 Spies wouldn’t mind.

Live: Tickets Still Available
Skunk Records

The Ziggens include a small, promotional flyer in the jacket of their live CD which attempts to lure you, the discerning listener, to “Spend some quality time with your friends the Ziggens.” This in itself could not be a more appropriate invitation. The Ziggens are in fact the kind of band who portray an immediate sense of drunken intimacy, the kind one could enjoy while wading through a puddle of beer on your favorite dance floor. Nearly all 13 cuts on this CD (recorded at Long Beach’s Blue Cafe and the now defunct Foothill Theater) are accessible and about as ear friendly as a collective catcall from the Laker Girls. But the Ziggens are not to be dismissed merely as a collective group of trouble makers, intent solely on keeping daddy’s little girl out past curfew—there is a method to the madness, a standard of professionalism they adhere to most stringently. Dynamics, strong vocal melodies, and the good sense to know when to kick it in and when to pull it all back are applied. While the good times mainly flow live, on tape the soul of the Ziggens clearly shines through.

Reviews by Kevin Brent