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Neon King Kong - Mix Up the Mix / Jerks Are Creeping 7"

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Artist: Neon King Kong

Album: Mix Up the Mix / Jerks Are Creeping 7"

Label: GSL

Review date: May. 29, 2002

Untimely as the supposed dissolution of Le Shok may have been, their exceptional, albeit brief, body of recorded material left a considerable legacy and a prolific band of expatriates. Splinter conglomerate Neon King Kong, boasting Le Shok vocalist Hot Rod Todd and former members of Teenage Heartthrobs and Lesbian Makers, is the most obvious descendant of the late punk outfit, as well as the only one to capture the intensity of aforementioned group. While Fast Forward and Death Drug proved blatant exercises in genre, the former in hostile synth new wave, and the latter in generally fucking around, Neon King Kong finds Todd close to the formula that won him some obscure renown in the halcyon days of 2000. The quartet’s Mix Up the Mix / Jerks Are Creeping 7” is not a drastic variation from the sound and style of delivery the Southern California scene inherited from early punk, but neither does it need to be, and their debut single plows through its short duration with fervent consistency.

This time out Todd’s Nancy Manhands, and his lyrics are a bit more poignant, but the no wave beats and blistering guitar remains intact. The only Nancy of my own acquaintance was allegedly named in honor of Nancy Reagan, significant other to the administration that brought us the Strategic Defense Initiative and the Iran-Contra Affair. This seemingly digressive detail gains relevance in light of the abstract paranoia in Mr. Manhands’ lyricism: “Jerks Are Creeping” is a ranting observation on environment, a veritable social ennui, and the A-side is no more relaxed. Neon King Kong, however, like West Coast cohorts Numbers and Erase Errata, seem less interested in the pending revolution than in plainly courting noise.

At the risk of premature assessment, Neon King Kong is a nihilistic party of cavernous libido, though Todd’s game is a particularly 70s vein of coyness, more eyebrow-raising lasciviousness than pornography. Beyond innuendo, “Mix Up the Mix” and “Jerks Are Creeping” deliberately foreground the guitar solo in a reprisal of classic rock stylistics. And while redneck riffs are not singularly spectacular, they add an interesting dimension to the band’s synth and percussion driven instrumentation. The sparse Wurlitzer and moog notes are pleasantly static, like a mathematical ballast against analog chaos. The bass line, meanwhile, is constantly dynamic and fluid. On both sides of the 7”, Neon King Kong refine the components of a traditional craft, and remain true to abrasive malaise.

By Tom Roberts

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