Subsonics “Flesh Colored Paint”- A Review

“Flesh Colored Paint” is the eighth album by the band, Subsonics, who have been releasing albums since 1992. In that time, they have not strayed far from their winning formula. They play a stripped down garage rock, with elements of trashy 50’s sleaze ballads, rolled up with a Velvet Underground awareness, and set alight with spiky guitar solos by Clay Reed, a graduate of the guitar school of Robert Quine. It is a style well evident and fully realized on their first self titled album, released by WorryBird records in 1992.

The band is a trio, with Rockin’ Clay Reed as singer and guitarist, and Buffi Aguero playing a minimal stand up drum kit, having both been in the band since the beginning, while Rob on bass joined a few albums ago.

Before Rob joined, I saw the band perform at the now gone and well remembered Portland punk club, The Satyricon, as an opening act for Man Or Astroman. The day stands out in my memory as it was one of the hottest days of that year. My friend and I drank beers while seated in the shade at one of the tables on the sidewalk in front of the club. We met Buffi from the band when she asked us to keep an eye on her stuff while she dealt with some sort of band business. No good deed goes unrewarded, and Buffi was kind enough to put us on her guest list for the show. I was electrified by the band, Buffi seemed like a cool garage rock chick, chewing gum while pounding her single drum and cymbal. While sinewy Clay Reed was upfront, his singing a mix of Lou Reed drawl and Richard Hell whelp, and his punk rock slash and burn guitar solos jolted me into the next day. The band was impressive enough that Dave and I left after their show, and did not stick around for Man Or Astroman. Plus it was something like 102 degrees outside, and close to that inside the club. We had to get out.

“Flesh Colored Paint” was produced in New York City, by Matt Verta-Ray, perhaps better known as a guitarist in the band, Speedball Baby, then as a producer, but lately he has been working up an impressive production resume, and as such any record with his name attached would be well worth checking out. Case in point, this new one by Subsonics.

Polished and well produced as this record is, Subsonics trademarks remain the same. Short melodic songs, with a hint of menace, riding on a propulsive beat, injected with single string guitar bliss / torture. A good number of the songs on this album clock in at around one minute thirty some seconds, with only one track making it to the three minute mark. None of the tracks overstay their welcome. Often I am left wanting more, so when the album ends, I start it over again.

Early faves or stand out tracks for me include “In the black spot”, Permanent Gnaw,” “Flesh Colored” paint,” “Johnny Left Hand” & “Most popular boy in town.” But maybe your faves will be different than mine. Check the album for yourself.

Noah Fence hosts It’s a Nice World To Visit – Punk, Post-Punk, Garage Rock, Psych…A mix of new tracks and old favorites. On Freeform Portland Radio.