Johnny Sexfuk and the Fleshrockets – Gone With A Trace

9 Overall Score
Songwriting: 9/10
Production: 9/10
Originality: 7/10

The songs are good and have catchy hooks; the musicianship of the players is also good. The songs do not all sound the same.

Too short.

Johnny Sexfuk and the Fleshrockets
Gone With A Trace
2016

Gratuitous review padding intro – “They’re a bunch of low life assholes with no respect for anything or anyone. They cannot be trusted. They’ll drink all your beer, they’ll smoke all your cigarettes, and they’re always hanging out in the fucking parking lot. They can’t play surf worth a shit and they’ve even managed to make punk rock sound bad.” Apparently someone in the band’s mother said this.  Since I do not know them personally, I will have to take mum’s word for their behavior.  As far as who good old mum was referring to it was Johnny Sexfuk and the Fleshrockets, who are from Miami, FL and have just (for once I am on time) dropped a new five song digital release called Gone With A Trace.

From mommy’s description you would think they are a surf-punk band as in the Surf Punks, but their surf is about as weak as the Atlantic’s in Miami. I guess you need great surf to make great surf music. Not to worry!  So what if I hear no surf influences?  As I don’t believe that I am reviewing a surf record it matters not. You have probably heard the cliché “mother know best” before but in this case I have to take an opposing viewpoint. Although I agree with her assessment of the surf part, I cannot about the punk. Johnny and his mates make fine punk music that occasionally dips into metal and even psychedelia. Now, I do not think that the band would consider themselves psychedelic, or even think about it, and they would be right: they are not. But the odd musical phrase or chord progression drops just a hint of the lysergic. I’ll go backwards for this, starting on the title track which is actually the fifth and final track of the release. There exists a very large genre called (more or less) “60’s psychedelic garage punk” and I am a big fan of it. In fact it is my musical specialty. You see, way back in the 1960’s every little town in the U.S.A. had at least one band who everyone thought was going to “make it.” And “everyone” included older straight men (straight as in no drugs, no clue, 60’s conservative) who would think that the band was their meal ticket and would consequently sign them and press a 45 or three (I love that word, consequently; I love the word “subsequently” just as much. You have to know how to use them though. “Consequently” is used when an event happens for a reason, following another event that caused it, such as the men thinking that the band would make them rich so consequently they signed them, and “subsequently” is used when an event happens after another event but was not explicitly caused by the prior event.  Example: perhaps the men thought the band might make them rich but did not sign them. The band makes it it anyway. You could say “nobody signed them at first, but subsequently the band went on to great fame and fortune.” Never say I did not teach you anything, ok?). This mass signing and pressing happened all across America and those 45’s are highly sought after and contain some GREAT music. There are thousands of them. I myself started tape trading in the 1980’s through classified ads (there was no Internet! Imagine that!) and have amassed a huge collection of these songs, some that we cover in my band. Message me if you want some hot tips for the best stuff, they are almost all on YouTube now. Or you can just search “60’s garage punk” there and find your own gems.  And since this is a Florida site, if you are interested I recommend the book Savage Lost: Florida Garage Bands : The ’60s and Beyond by Jeff Lemlich.  A fine tome it is, and it will fill you in on just about all you need to know about the genre in Florida.  And if you are REALLY interested and wish to go beyond Florida bands, spend the dough for Fuzz, Acid and Flowers by Vernon Joynson. It ain’t cheap, but it sure is thorough. There. I taught you a lot today! You are welcome.

So what did all of that have to do with this release? Actually less than you would think, considering the amount of ink I spent on the subject. But the fifth and title track reminds me of 60’s garage punk mixed with modern post-punk. The descending chord progression is pure garage punk, and the bands use of minor chords in other places (such as the intro to the first track, Fear Not For Thieves) is also reminiscent of those used so widely used in the 1960’s. Moving along through the songs in a strange and twisted path where the last song is mentioned first and I am not going to tell you what order the rest of the songs are in, I am making you work for it, Creature Feature first and foremost is an age test – do you know what Creature Feature is? I’ll teach you some more. Creature Feature was a television show in the 60’s and 70’s that showed horror flicks. Like Elvira did in the 80’s. And Johnny and his pals wrote a song about it. It starts out with a cool harmony lead that is reminiscent of, of all people, Ted Nugent. I do not know if it is two guitar tracks with one of them pitch shifted, dual guitars harmonized, a pedal or effect, or perhaps the guitarist is using a Gibson Byrdland guitar as made famous by the Nuge. I can think of a few early Nugent tracks that have the exact same tone as the guitar(s) on Creature Feature’s intro. Check out Pony Express from the album Tooth, Fang and Claw by Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes and tell me the intro does not have the same tone as Creature Feature’s intro.  Now I am not implying that they stole it! It is just a similar tone. I do not know if Johnny and his cohorts have even heard the song. But it too is on YouTube like everything else, and if they read this I’ll bet they will check it out if they have never heard it before. Friends is another fine song – but is it about friends or those who just call themselves friends? You will have to listen to find out.

The rest of this five song release generally follows suit. I don’t hear the surf but I definitely hear the punk. And the metal. I cannot tell you if the word “metal” is poison to the band but this music does border on hard rock-metal at times. Which is a good thing as far as I am concerned. I like this record. And I do not like a lot of new music. But this is good. And recommended. You can hear the songs and purchase them (you can only listen to a particular song three or four times before you have to buy it) at the Johnny Sexfuk Bandcamp page (and posting a release page is one of my highest forms of praise.) We need more music like this on the radio.

Adios mf’s, I’m out.

 

 

 

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Jeff Strichart
Author: Jeff Strichart View all posts by
Jeff Strichart has been a frustrated musician for almost forty years. He is also a producer and has mixed and/or mastered many local Colorado bands. Aside from his music and production he enjoys his dogs, motorcycles, collecting vintage BMX bicycles, reading and his new found love of sound design using hardware synthesizers and has licensed material to the BBC for use in their television programs.

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