Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Rob Moss and Skin-Tight Skin - Now With More Rockets

If the name Rob Moss is familiar to you, you likely remember him as a member of D.C. hardcore bands Government Issue and Artificial Peace. Moss stopped playing music in the early '80s and never expected to start up again. For over 35 years, he did not record a single note of music. But a few years back, the inspiration returned. Under the name Rob Moss and Skin-Tight Skin, he released the album We've Come Back to Rock 'n' Roll (How's that for a mission statement?) in 2020. Now he's back with his second full-length release, Now With More Rockets. If you're expecting this release to sound like hardcore, you will likely be disappointed. But if you're into proto punk glam rock and roll, this is 100% an album for you. Moss set out to emulate (but not reproduce exactly) the music that made him want to form a band in the first place. He has crafted a love letter to the sounds of his youth, and I am here for it. Broadly, Now With More Rockets revels in the influence of Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Brownsville Station, The Slickee Boys, the Dead Boys, Lou Reed, Sweet, Slade, Mott the Hoople, and many others. I'm hearing some Stooges, New York Dolls, and Johnny Thunders as well. That sure sounds like something I'd be into, right? Of course! 

Backing Moss on Now With More Rockets are Dwight Reid on bass, Danny Frankel (Urban Verbs, Lou Reed, John Cale) on drums, and a star-studded cast of guest players. Each of the album's 11 tracks features a different lead guitar player. The lead guitarists include Gil Leigh (of the U.S. High Llamas), Wes Tabayoyong (Savage Beliefs), Ken Moss (Acrylix, Seven Door Sedan), Abaad Behram (Johnny Bombay and the Reactions, Razz), Scrote (aka Angelo Bundini, coordinator of Celebrating David Bowie), Bob Balch (Fu Manchu), Joey Cola (Sorrows), Greg Strzempka (Raging Slab), Razzle Markel (Not Dead Yet), the mighty Sal Baglio (The Stompers, Amplifier Heads), and Glenn Kowalski (White Boy, Seven Door Sedan). Other special guest stars include Doug Wieselman (John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards, Laurie Anderson) on saxophone, Martha Hull (The Slickee Boys, Martha Hull and the Steady Jobs) on vocals, and Kim Reynolds on piano. That's an awful lot of star power, and credit must go to Moss for pulling all this talent together in a fully cohesive way. Of course you're going to love the solos if you dig rock and roll lead guitar. But in every single case, the lead guitar supports the song rather than upstaging it. As a singer, Moss has a unique, raspy style that has really come to grow on me after several spins. I suppose the technical term here is that his voice has "character." Whether he's reminiscing about the cool rockers walking around Ralphs grocery store, opining on the way the government and media did Richard Jewell dirty, celebrating the legacy of Chuck Berry, or lamenting the way New York City has changed over the last few decades, I'm absolutely buying what he's selling. Favorite tracks for me are the goth-tinged rocker "A Rocket Ship To You," the "House of the Rising Sun" homage "Red Beans and Gasoline," the '77 punk throwback "Rock 'n' Roll Ralphs," the Willie Alexander & The Boom Boom Band inspired "Two Slices of Bread," and the glam-tastic closer "I'm On a Rocket Ship (Heading My Way Back Home)." True to the title of the album, the two tracks with the word "rocket" in the title are marvelous bookends. Who wouldn't want more rockets?

I would recommend Now With More Rockets to anyone with a soft spot for proto punk, glam rock, and early New York punk rock. If you were a '70s kid, you'll be feeling these songs. But aside from that, Rob Moss proves himself to be a fine songwriter with a real flair for storytelling, clever lyrics, and quality hooks. Perhaps most importantly, this album straight-up rocks. It's available from Bandcamp in digital and compact disc formats for just $10.

1 comment:

Javier Iglesias said...

ROB MOSS - The best kept secret of 21st Century Rock!!!.