Michael Yonkers With The Blind Shake - "Hey Hey What" (Period)
Stories don’t come much harsher, or more inspiring than Michael Yonkers’s. The guy’s most prescient moment came in 1968, when he made Microminiature Love, and album that sounded like Thirteenth Floor Elevators playing Sonic Youth’s guitars before anyone in SY’s voice had changed. His lowest came in 1971, when his spine was broken in a warehouse accident. If you want to know more, start here. Despite crippling pain and weakness, he’s managed not only to rebound but to churn out a blizzard of releases in recent years.
Of course, that has problems of its own. Just because you can put out a bunch of records doesn’t mean they’re all good, and some of Yonkers’ return efforts tend towards sludgy blues rock.
Not this one. Recorded with The Blind Shake, a trio of much younger Minneapolitan cue balls who enable Yonkers to get heavy but not cumbersome. This is their second album together, and it progresses beyond “meeting of like minds” to “mind meld.” Yonkers isn’t a dictatorial boss; he might be in charge of the writing and singing, but he slots himself into The Blind Shake’s pressed metal sound like the middle unit in a set of well-made nesting tables. The core of their three-guitar, no-bass attack is a phalanx of stacked chords, but they can spread out at will to launch flanking maneuvers with dragon-breathed wah-wah licks.
The record’s flaw, if you choose to see it that way, is in the way that it subordinates songwriting to sound. While certain elements — the structure, the hooks — are well in place, a close listen to Yonkers’ singing doesn’t turn up much that’s memorable. But it doesn’t turn up much that’s offensive, either, and the tone of his sternly pissed-off voice says more than words could anyway.