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Shagadelic Rock

The Woggles bring garage rock back from the age of swank



Kids, I’m this close (imagine thumb-and-forefinger gesture) to finalizing my unified field theory of garage rock. Each and every day I deliberate the matter in the shower (the Cogitation Station), but it seems like each day the answer becomes more and more elusive. This is as it should be, because, really, I have no business trying to cobble together some all-encompassing theory that, in sooth, will only serve to make garage music less meaningful, less vexing. Less fun, in any event. It’s an enigma that needn’t and shouldn’t be solved, but what else am I supposed to think about in the shower? Grain futures? Tradewind tendencies?

One of the components of garage rock that has me so perplexed is the fact that according to movies like Animal House, this sort of music was partaken of avidly by fraternity members in the late ’60s, whereas it couldn’t be more alien to today’s Hellenic enthusiasts. Like, when did frat members turn into such mama’s boys? I typically resolve these types of quagmires by assuring myself that it’s probably just some bogus “Louie Louie” mythos I absorbed from taking “The History of Rock and Roll” at UM.

The Woggles record isn’t helping matters any. The first track, “Ramadan Romance,” verily frothed out of my feeble speakers (or “speaker,” I should say; No. 2’s performance is ephemeral in nature) at unexpected levels, as did “I’m the Green Fly” and “Do Me Wrong.” No, they’re not gonna foment any windfall innovation in modern garage rock; in fact, they’ve got the routine down pretty well, what with the tiger-striped Slingerland drums (but surprisingly, no band logo on the kick drum head. Hmmm.), Gretsch guitars, gratuitous use of exclamation points and the Socket typeface (like the one used on the Gilligan’s Island titles), retro clip-art, and singer with the shaggy hair and the tambourine. Their particular stock in trade is the two-chord stomp, popularized by The Trashmen, The Troggs, ? and the Mysterians, and later by The Cynics and early side-two Makers (yeah, they put all their riff-intensive stuff at the front of the album and the bi-chordal blasts at the end, I’ve noticed, like “Why Can’t I Live Forever”).

There are only two beeves I had with the Woggles record, neither of which should have any bearing whatsover on their purported May 28 recital at Jay’s Upstairs. First, they address the listener as if you were at their concert and they were bantering with you. Speaking directly to the listener on a studio record is a most disorienting practice that plagues not only this record, but the new Smugglers album and the television show “Malcolm in the Middle” as well. Second, all four members have a clever nom de plume, but the songwriting credits utilize their given Christian names, making for a gaping lack of symmetry and perhaps even revealing an affinity for publishing their songs with ASCAP, better known to you and me as The Man. But like I said, this shouldn’t prevent anyone from digging the hell out of their show at Jay’s. Recommended attire: short-sleeved striped shirt and khaki pants for men; tube tops and blue corduroy pants for the ladies.

The Woggles play Jay’s Upstairs on Sunday, May 28 at 10 p.m. Cover TBA.

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