The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Damage

3 out of 5

Label: Sanctuary Records

Produced by: Dan the Automator, Don Smith, various

A definitively “solid” album.  Jon Spencer and crew – recording here under the “we’re a band not a man” moniker Blues Explosion – fall back on the support of solid guest stars and all-star producers to deliver a to-the-point slab of riff-infused (blues) rock.  I don’t think there’s anything particular surprising on here for those familiar with Spencer’s enthused shout / croon and Russell Simins’ and Judah Bauer’s gutsy low-end stomping and grooving, but Damage manages to shift through a Chuck D political-inspired chant, DJ Shadow scratching, and some lo-fi, noisy and restless instrumentals and combine them into a fun, seamless, forty minute experience of head-bobbing rhythms.  Dan the Automator probably brings the disc’s best moments, smartly syncing to the Explosion’s most notable elements of rawness and really blowing out a raw guitar sound, a slamming low end, and Spencer at his raspiest on tracks like Crunchy and Help These Blues.  DJ Shadow’s hands on Fed Up and Low Down sound like DJ Shadow producing Jon Spencer – cutting and blipping through the group’s rawk – but it works.

Which is a good summary of the album: it works.  It works really well.  On the one hand, it’s nothing new, but the Explosion keep finding the tools they need to keep their three-chord blues variant worth the listening time.