Jack Oblivian – Rat City

(Big Legal Mess)

Rating: NNNN

When it comes to gritty garage rock done Memphis-style, there’s no competition for Jack Yarber (aka Jack Oblivian). He owns this particular niche, thanks to his countless incarnations as Johnny Vomit and the Dry Heaves, Compulsive Gamblers and his best-known combo, the Oblivians. Though he’s worn many hats, they’ve been mostly of the same shade: lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll with a punk edge. His new album builds on this foundation but expands the geography.

Shades of Stooges (Crime Of Love) and the Clash (Dark Eyes) highlight the first half, with Oblivian playing all the instruments on the buzz-saw title track, an ode to the ungentrified streets of Memphis. Many artists front-load their records, but Oblivian does the opposite. The gems are on side two, like the 70s power pop of Girl On The Beach and the Springsteenesque Jealous Heart, both of which would surely be monster hits in another decade by an artist with a big-money producer.

Top track: Girl On The Beach

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