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The Demon’s Claws - The Defrosting Of...

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Artist: The Demon’s Claws

Album: The Defrosting Of...

Label: In the Red

Review date: Oct. 5, 2010

In what is probably the best written piece on the lightly documented Demon’s Claws – an August 2009 group email interview for Mongrelzine – guitarist Pat Météor describes the band’s volatile live show. “Demon’s Claws is two different bands…one is the crazy uncle drunken insane and two is the tight hangover sweet… so it depends what night they catch us,” he says. It’s an apt description, and you can hear both sides on this third full-length. The Defrosting Of... (reportedly named after Walt Disney’s cryogenically preserved head, then abbreviated for legal reasons) is laid back and loosely strung even as it blows apart at the joints, a countrified shamble buried in its most frantic moments.

Demon’s Claws came out of Montreal’s garage scene, a Petri dish of retro cross-fertilization where bands spawn, grow, divide, combine and perish like bacteria under the microscope. Members of The Demon’s Claws have been in (and continue to be in) about a dozen other bands: The Cut-Offs, The Confusers, Mind Controls (with Mark Sultan), Scat Rag Boosters and others. Both Sultan and King Khan have played on the band’s recordings. Guitarist Jeff Clarke was, at least at one time, Sultan’s roommate. And yet, where Sultan finds inspiration in early rock styles like doo-wop and rockabilly, and King Khan mines a vein of funk and soul, The Demon’s Claws starts with country blues. When the group gets compared to The Rolling Stones, which happens more than you’d expect, it’s because of the Claws’ drunken, electrified fascination with country blues. Even sped up, fritzed out and fucked up, you can hear it, and once in a while (“That Old Outlaw” on 2007’s Satan’s Little Pet Pig, “You’ll Always Be My Friend” on this one), they let an inner country rebel out.

The Defrosting Of buries this rustic influence a little more thoroughly than Satan’s Little Pet Pig did, in reckless onslaughts of garage-y rock (“Fed From Her Hand”), in trippy swirls of psychedelia (“Anny Lou”) and happy go-lucky sing-alongs (“Last Time By the Pool”). Yet, it’s there in all the best tracks. Shuffling, two-stepping “Fucked on Ketamine,” first released as a Rob’s House single, is a blues lament too cranked to know how sad it is. “Trip to a Clinic” has an echoey, epic blues atmosphere that reminds you a little bit of “House of the Rising Sun.” Even head-banging “Mona’s Lunch,” jacked on snare cadences and tangled with rapid guitar runs, has a still, bittersweet center to it.

The sound on Defrosting is a little less murky than the Jay Reatard-mixed Satan’s Little Pet Pig, though still exceptionally loose and live and casual. None of the songs are quite as good as “Shadow of a Castle” or as unhinged as “1000 Rounds,” but overall, it’s a solid addition to the band’s growing catalog.

By Jennifer Kelly

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