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The Hentchmen - Three Times Infinity

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Artist: The Hentchmen

Album: Three Times Infinity

Label: Norton

Review date: Jan. 12, 2003

By the Numbers

What is there to say about the Hentchmen that hasn’t already been posted on garage punk internet bulletin boards or written in music rags in the past ten years? Well, how about something like, “These guys kick out a metric assload of jams.” Hmmmm. No: that’s pretty accurate … but not really new news. Maybe: “These guys rule – why don’t more people know about them?” Too obvious (there’s this little “garage” duo from the same city – Detroit – that’s been soaking up the “attention” lately). Hold on, I think I’ve got it now. Three Times Infinity, (the sixth and most recent full-length release by the Hentchmen) is the most bitching ride in two-and-a-half minute installments through the shiny land of retro rock n’ roll you might have missed in 2002. No worries though, 2003 will surely allow plenty of time for filling the gaps.

So what’s new with the Hentchmen? If you’ve listened to any other stuff from the band, you wouldn’t have known they took some time off playing as a band. The record finds the ’Men at the peak of their powers: it’s consistently fast, slightly slick, unapologetically straight ahead, yet far from derivative rock music. Seemingly taking their cue from predecessors like the MC5 and the Dictators, the Hentchmen conceived of a basic formula early in their career (bluesy chord progressions that give birth to speedy riffs and playful, nearly offhand lyrics, such as “nothing’s gonna stop me from getting in your pants girl … yeh, oh yeh!”) and have stuck with it through the bulk of the 90’s, producing ground-stomping (instead of ground-breaking) garage rock. “Infinity” never shies away from the hallmarks of the genre – head-bopping hooks, driving rhythms and attitude. It all begins and ends with Timmy’s beefy power chords, Johnny’s smooth organ tones and Mike’s powerful drumming, and the yelping of all three band members. Anything else in the production room seems an afterthought, and rightly so. Rather than complicate a song unnecessarily with forays into that mysterious area of musical self-gratification and ostentatious “wankery,” the trio has confidence that fast songs about fast cars, done right, are interesting enough in and of themselves. Songs like “LeSabre Radar” and “Makin’ Out” (two of my faves), are great examples of the record’s infectious attitude. It’s definitely refreshing to listen to a band that’s content to kick you in the ass, break off your legs, and leave the alternate time signatures to the dorks.

It seems like the goal of Three Times Infinity isn’t innovation as much as it is resuscitation. I’m not saying that music like this ever fell dormant (i.e. isn’t the supposed “new garage movement” a contradiction in terms, in that the history of popular taste evolved, not the aesthetic?) and thus needed to be brought back to life. On the contrary, by insisting that the guitar-bass-organ trifecta suffices to help brothers and sisters get down with it, Infinity trusts the listener’s ability to have fun and rock out. In this way, these guys might be considered rock purists or classicists in essence. Old school isn’t really new school – perhaps it’s just a way of describing a band following a plan that still works.

By Jeff Rufo

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