Still Fiery As Ever
During the 1990s, Boss Hog were known as some of the most artsy, lo-fi and provocative punk rockers on the New York scene. Though they only released three albums in the decade — the most recent of which was 2000’s Whiteout — the artistic (and husband/wife) duo of Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer gained critical approval and underground fan support, which is why it was such a surprise when the band quietly stopped touring and recording, aside from a few brief shows in 2008.
Their newest release, Brood X, comes a full 17 years later than its predecessor, and, surprisingly, changes very little. Martinez’s snarling vocals are drenched in distortion, while Spencer’s guitar is fuzzy and eclectic. Each of the album’s 10 tracks is intense and surprisingly full of the same raw energy as the band’s earlier work. It is evident that despite both being upwards of 50-years-old now, Martinez and Spencer have definitely not mellowed with age.
Brood X wastes no time in rocking listeners’ socks off, as the opening track “Billy” opens with fuzz before eventually escalating into Martinez screaming, “Billy’s on fire!” during the chorus. “Black Eyes” follows, and is arguably the most catchy and enjoyable track on the album. “Seventeen” is the other highlight, with its haunting and brooding culmination that fades into static before the album ends. Unfortunately for the band, though, despite the other songs being solid, none of them really jump out as gems.
The instrumentation is mostly that of standard punk, with simple guitars and drums behind Martinez and Spencer’s vocal interplay, but keyboards occasionally make a brief appearance, while strings also show up on“ Seventeen” for a delicate touch. It would have been nice to hear these instruments a little bit more; even though the songs don’t necessarily need them, it still would have added an artistic vein that would really have pushed this album to the next level of creativity.
Overall, Boss Hog have made a triumphant and rocking return to the music scene and Brood X is worth the 17-year wait.