The Loons – Paraphernalia (UT Records)

Paraphernalia There are certain people in rock and roll that I can’t help but admire for their absolute dedication to music. People like Keith Richards, Peter Buck, the late Greg Shaw, Lenny Kaye, Little Steven and Thurston Moore absolutely live and breathe music and literally could not imagine doing anything else. You can add Mike Stax to that list. Check out this rock and roll resume: publisher of garage rock and roll bible Ugly Things Magazine, head honcho of UT Records, past member of the late, great Crawdaddys and Tell-Tale Hearts and current member of The Loons who have just released their second CD “Paraphernalia.” Backed by a multi-national cast of garage rock veterans, The Loons mine that fertile period of rock and roll circa 1966 when the term “pop band” wasn’t a dirty word and where experimentation within a pop context ruled the day. Despite the danger of being labeled a retro knockoff band, The Loons are anything but. Stax himself elaborated in a recent interview in The San Diego Tribune where he stated “Of course we’re influenced heavily by bands like the Yardbirds, Love and the Pretty Things, but those influences have been deeply absorbed over many years, and the music we play is a reflection of those influences rather than an imitation. There are a lot of bands doing little more than historical reenactment. That can be fun, but ultimately it’s very shallow- at the end of the day, you’re going to listen to the real thing, not a simulated version. I like to think that what we do has more depth to it. We work hard on sounding original and having a strong personality of our own.” Listening to the CD is a lot of fun because like a lot of rock and roll that I like, they manage to take some great rock and roll influences and subtly twist them into their own definable sound. “Paraphernalia” is full of cool distorted guitars, weird effects and driving tribal bass and drums on songs like “Another Life” and the full-out rocker of Aftermath-era Rolling Stones “Turned to Stone.” Throw in some effective backup vocals (especially from bassist Anja Bungert formally of UK girl group the Diaboliks) and psychedelic folk-rock numbers like “Follow the Rain Down” and you have a great rock and roll record that echoes the past without slavishly imitating it. Another keeper. You can buy it direct through the Ugly Things website.