[BIG BEAT FROM STUMPTOWN] As much as I loved Mattress, something about Rex Marshall's basso profondo voice never seemed to jibe too well with that band's lo-fi electronic leanings. But with his new outfit, the Reservations, Marshall's throaty growl is given its perfect vehicle.
This gloriously sleazy quartet rolls back the clock to the '80s when bands like the Cramps and James Chance & The Contortions were turning the pompadoured swagger of '50s and '60s rock and soul into ragged cries from the gutter. While he shares vocal space with organist Chris Hoganons—who adds a soulful bleat to the proceedings—it is when Marshall takes center stage that the Reservations work best. With his rumpled guitar and the downright indecent tones of Hoganons' organ playing, Marshall opines like he has just emerged from an absinthe-induced sleep in search of his first cigarette and the girl he spent the night with. "I'm gonna find you!" he wails on the album's closing track ("Find You," natch). I wouldn't doubt him on that point. Nor would I question his insistence earlier in the album that he needs an ambulance to "carry my body/ to take me back home." In both cases, Marshall imbues those lines with spine-tingling authority.
What you don't get from this (cassette and digital) EP, though, is the sense of danger necessary to push it directly in your face. Maybe the Reservations' hard-boiled edge only comes out in the band's live shows. Or maybe the quartet takes its chosen sobriquet a little too seriously. Either way, the Reservations would be better served by spiking their phonic hooch with more blood, fire or other dangerous element.
SEE IT: The Reservations will release their debut EP on Thursday, June 16, at Holocene with Wampire, Religious Girls and Rocky & the Proms. 8:30 pm. $5. 21+.