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The Dragons Rock N Roll Kamikaze

By S.L. Duff, Contributing Writer
Monday, June 28, 2004 @ 9:04 AM


(Gearhead)

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This fell out of the Magic Mailbox today and I shook my head as I inspected the tracklist: "Life Is Cheap." "Greyhound." "Kamikaze." Fuck, I thought, I have to stop reading the news...it's enough to take all the joy out of living, not to mention reviewing rock 'n' roll rekkids.

Heard good reports on these guys even before I saw them Austin's SXSW a few years back and wound up getting my car towed from a restaurant parking lot on Cesar Chavez Blvd. and missing their show. Feh. Front Dragon Mario Escovedo is, of course, the younger sibling of Alejandro (Nuns/Rank and File/Buick MacKane and solo underground stardom) and Javier (Zeros), not to mention Pete and Coke (uh, Santana) and cousin of Sheila E. And the title and World War II/Rising Sun imagery can be forgiven 'cos lead guitarist Ken Mochikoshi Horn was born in Yokohama, mama. It's not like they're a buncha Guitar Wolf wannabes or anything like that.

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Diehard Rolling Stones fans though these San Diego-based boys might be, they play punk rock 'n' roll with the emphasis on the punk (meaning fast tempos, pummeling rhythm section, thrashing dual gtrs - you know the drill). On this, their fourth full-length, they keep things short and sweet - 10 tunes, about 40 minutes, each one a short, sharp shock to the synapses right up until the four bonus tracks (courtesy of Geargead's recent reissue of this one-time Junk Records release), which mellows down easy like something Mott the Hoople might have essayed on "Mad Shadows" or one of those.

These Dragons claim the heritage of the sloppy-drunk Replacements and Johnny Thunders' lurching-out-of-control Heartbreakers, but in addition to the chaos factor and guitar damage, you also get the kind of pop-smart songcraft that marked both of those bands at their best. Dig the "woo-hoo"-ing backing voxxx and the barfly's sing-a-long chorus on "Three Steps from the Bar" ("You're my Brigitte Bardot, I'm your Errol Flynn," indeed - waitaminute, wasn't he the one who used to play the piano with his dick?), on which Escovedo sounds like nothing so much as, uh, Bruce Springsteen channeling Tom Waits, or the classic descending riff of "C'mon" (and the call-and-response chorus). No anal-retentive precision for these guys - "Keep it rollin', keep it rollin'," Mario yells after the false start on "Don't Waste My Time." He knows the secret of all great rock 'n' roll: cut it live, fast, and hot.

This will definitely blow the roof off your house, apartment, vehicle, or any structure where you happen to have your disc player set up. A live band to be reckoned with, too. Be warned.

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