Nuggets and streaks
In 1972, guitarist Patti Smith and rock historian Lenny Kaye compiled a two-LP collection of late-1960s music that had, for the most part, fallen between the cracks of mainstream public consciousness. Titled Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968, Kaye’s collection provided much the same cultural focus that Harry Smith’s 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music did for the folk-music set, bringing a relatively unknown genre of music together under a particular banner and hence giving it a set of boundaries and a clearer sense of cohesion. Through Nuggets (and its choice tracks by the Seeds, the Electric Prunes, Count Five and 24 others), listeners were reminded that the music of the 1960s carried within it the seeds (or nuggets, if you will) of punk rock.
Sacramento’s music scene features a few bands that celebrate Nuggets-era garage rock, driving a proto-punk sound that is part 1960s pop and part 1970s punk. Such local acts as the Shruggs and the Trouble Makers have been mining that field successfully for years, pleasing Sacramento audiences with their unhinged take on the genre.
Add to that list Th’ Losin Streaks, a sort of area garage-rock supergroup. Formed last summer by Tim Foster and Stan Tindall (of the Trouble Makers) and Matt K. Shrugg (of Sunshine Smile and the Black Dahlias), the initial trio added guitar hero Mike Farrell (of Daisy Spot) in September, hence becoming one of the area’s most talked-about new bands.
Last weekend at Old Ironsides, Th’ Losin Streaks performed an incendiary set that underscored a clear understanding of garage rock in all its sloppy, out-of-control glory. From the first note, the band launched into a chaos of guitar riffs and screamed vocals that blended pop music with punk ethic perfectly. Of particular note was the drumming of Shrugg, a violent thrashing that undoubtedly would have made Kaye perk up his ears and take notice. Shrugg’s drumming is the glue that keeps Th’ Losin Streaks together, allowing Farrell to really stretch out his stage performance. (Indeed, after his by-comparison low-key performances in Daisy Spot, it is nice to see Farrell get his mojo working.)
There are a few ready criticisms, as well, but they somehow seem absurd given the context of what Th’ Losin Streaks are doing. For example, it might be pointed out that Farrell’s vocals don’t seem to match the material well (his vocal style tends to be clean and sweet, more clearly suited to Daisy Spot), but then again, is such a criticism relevant to the kind of trash band that Th’ Losin Streaks represent? After all, the central concept of the garage-rock movement is the same that fueled punk: a sense of do-it-yourself, no-holds-barred, fuck-the-rules music making from which we all could take a lesson. Check out www.the-troublemakers.com/losinstreaks.html or, better yet, go see them live on January 24 at the Blue Lamp, where they’ll be performing with Rock the Light and Sacramento.