Rocket from the Tombs - I Sell Soul [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rocket from the Tombs

I Sell Soul [7-inch] (2010)

Hearpen / Smog Veil

Rocket from the Tombs!

For fans of garage rock and protopunk, those four words are synonymous with the birth of a golden age that also included such influential groups as the New York Dolls, Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, Television and countless others. Following their original disbanding and splintering in 1975, RFTT reunited in 2003 with several original members, though 2010's I Sell Soul 7-inch is the band's first original studio output in 35 years.

With members Cheetah Chrome, David Thomas and Craig Bell of the classic lineup, the 2010 incarnation of Rocket from the Tombs does a superb job of representing the group's legacy without replaying it note-for-note on their two new songs.

The title track on Side A is more of a straight-ahead garage-punk number than the majority of RFTT originals recorded in their initial run. Lead singer David Thomas' voice has taken on a much more self-aware tonality than the cocky, raucous shouts of their 1974 and 1975 recordings, but it still works with the pounding rhythm and droning noises. The track is supported by layers of technically sound but chaotic guitar playing and a chorus as catchy as anything they've done.

Side B belongs to "Romeo and Juliet," a haunting and harrowing reflection in the spirit of the musical experimentation of original RFTT and Pere Ubu. Half-ballad, half-sonic see-saw, Thomas seems to wilt while recounting present circumstances: "This is me, sittin' on a couch / Don't I look happy? / Or maybe contented...or maybe just okay?"

Despite a 30-year absence from recording original material, Rocket from the Tombs is back and as good as ever on their new 7-inch. Whether you spin the vinyl like the good old days or press play on your iPod, this pair of songs will stand up to anything from then or now.