The Shemps - Spazz Out With The Shemps (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Shemps

Spazz Out With The Shemps (2004)


I've been struggling with this record for about two weeks now, going back and forth on whether I like it or not. I've come to the conclusion that if you want no-frills garage punk that requires no thought, The Shemps really deliver. I do like it; it's not always what I want to hear, but it's a fun album when you're in the mood to get rowdy.

The Shemps started in 2000 after guitarist Dave "Squeaky" Wilentz returned to New York after a lengthy stay in Japan. Joined by Maximum Rock 'N' Roll columnist Bill Florio on bass and vocals and a revolving cast of others the group started taking shape, finally solidifying the lineup in 2003.

They have released a few 7"s but Spazz Out is their debut full-length, and it is full of high-energy rock 'n' roll and bad rhymes a-plenty, but you'll barely notice those. The intro track sums up what is in store for you: the singer asks for an 'A,' and after it is played, he screeches something not that close to an A, and says "Alright, all set." All set indeed, as they rip into "King Of Garage," the blueprint for the rest of the set, with the power and shouted vocal style of the Stooges (or more recently the Hives) that meets the speed and sense of humor of the Dead Kennedys sans the politics. The Shemps pound through 17 tracks in 27 minutes (only two tracks crack the two-minute mark), rarely changing tempo, volume or intensity, but that seems be what they're all about.

A couple tracks do stick out, like "That's Great" with its silly yet irresistible chorus of "That's great / That sucks / who cares? / What the fuck?" and later "Do The Karate," which warns, "Do these moves in time / If you don't do it right I'll rip out your spine!" Brainless punk rock has never sounded so convincing. Last track "Treat Her Right" is a cover of Roy Head's hit R&B tune from the '60s, but The Shemps make it sound like something the's from Kill Bill would play.

Even though the album doesn't reach the half-hour mark, this still seems a bit long for this style of noise. Most tracks are barely distinguishable and though each track alone is a great tightly-packed punk dittie, 17 of them in a row is a bit tiresome because they don't have quite the same magic or diversity of the above-mentioned groups. I'm sure some of you out there can handle this better than I, so go for it and pick this up then get ready to Spazz Out!