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SUBSONICS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Subsonics (Worry Bird) 1992
Hey Brother Can You Spare a Dime? (Worry Bird) 1994
Everything Is Falling Apart (Get Hip) 1996

If one were to go with the idea that garage rock bands distinguish themselves not through original songwriting but through a clever combination of existing elements, then Subsonics are glowing examples. Made up of Rockin' Clay Reed (guitar and vocals), Scott Weatherwax (bass) and Buffi Aguero (drums), the group places the Dylan whine of Reed's singing and lyrics of one-upsmanship over a high velocity surf guitar strum and simple snare-and-bass-drum percussion.

Subsonics moves through a seamy underworld — the same environment within which the Atlanta trio presents itself as existing. "Heroin Addict's Beach Party" imagines just that, with lyrics like "Anyone out of smack/Start shooting up sand," and "Frankie and Annette never planned it like this." Most song narratives also invoke beach blanket names like Suzy and Sheila while contemplating gutter-life redemption.

Hey Brother Can You Spare a Dime? continues the concoction, with the notable teaser "Dime-a-Dance Girl." Subsonics make a smart decision on Everything Is Falling Apart by bringing in Speedball Baby member Matt Verta-Ray to assist in production. The vocals are pushed up slightly, and the instruments come through more clearly than before. "I Made You a Clown" has a mid-tempo chug like the best of Velvet Underground's good time numbers, while "I Love You, I'll Kill You" is about as catchy as they come.

A couple of Subsonics also share a group called Titanics with members of Rock*a*Teens.

[Ben Goldberg]
   
This piece was first published in Badaboom Gramophone #3 and appears here with permission.