Raw Power. Where is it in thousand-blank-teen? What kind of statement does an overpriced boutique fuzz pedal make? Stoned lips dismiss that “everything’s been done” and that “rock and roll is dead.” But I disagree. I have to. Myself and the Rush T-shirt-clad members of Classic Rock Radio Nation know that the great spirit of soul is beyond this mortal coil. Just as a 3rd grader ignores the overwhelming evidence that Santa isn’t real, I turn my head away from top 40 jingle pop and place it firmly to the earth. Yes, the monster can’t be seen. But if you listen hard enough you’ll realize that it is still roaring and stomping in the underground.
Enter WINNEBAGO. Led by prolific Songwriter Chris Gennone, this project began as a chance meeting between him and drummer Steve Sandler at an Alien Father show. Characterized by noisy, heartfelt anthems and drunken, sweat-soaked sets, this band is the auditory equivalent of a blackout bender with your best friends on the night of your 5-year high school reunion. Bar fights and prank calls abound.
Following a slew of albums under the C.R. & the Degenerates moniker, Gennone returns to Winnebago to release their 2nd album ‘Human Cig’. Following up 2014’s rough-around-the-edge opus Turbine Lounge, this album proves that this band has grown ONLY where it counts. Recorded between 2015 and 2017 at New Brunswick’s In the West by Glazer’s Phil Connor, this album’s chipped tooth charm is bolstered by the introduction of more confident songwriting and melodic emphasis.
“When I lose my hair
I’ll lose my mind
Go to Tommy’s Wig Shop
99 cent dreams.”
Released at the first single, ‘Tommy’s Wigs’ tackles the awkwardness of aging and the existential horror of hair loss. According to Chris, the song’s inspiration came from a Newark wig shop’s giant neon sign. Displayed across the street from Index Art Center (one of NJ’s BEST music spaces,) it inevitably conjures up the strangeness of aging within the DIY music scene. Age really IS just a number… but explain that to our insecurities.
Right out the gate, the band sounds strong. Laying down a sludgy dirge, their careless swagger is subtly illuminated by improved audio fidelity and Phil Conner’s production. Chris’s heartfelt vocals sound like he’s on the verge of melting down. His shaky falsetto traverses Sandler’s heavy-hitting beat. Suddenly, a machine gun drum fill announces that the fuse has run out. Gennone unleashes even more distortion and bellows the triumphant chorus “I’m just in it for the laughs.” Guesting on lead guitar, Phil’s notes burrow through the words and acid-wash this repeating mantra. Quite a feat for 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
Tonight… out here in Trumpland, there is need for rock and roll we can believe in. Shallow pop and revivalism is cultural chewing gum. Greta Van Fleet will not provide you with your daily dose of creativity and soul. Save your money and buy Winnebago’s new single instead. It’s the strange we can believe in.
Newly joined by Josh Stavola of Glazer on bass, Winnebago is ready to hit the road to support their excellent new album Human Cig (released November 16). Don’t miss ’em.
11/16 at The Jungeon in Rutherford (record release show)
11/23 (Black Friday) at Flemington DIY.