Th’ Losin Streaks are four garage-conscious scene veterans whose wicked sounds are tearing up the town
Th’ Losin Streaks are the best rock ‘n’ roll band in Sacramento, hands/glands down. End of argument. Don’t believe it? Ask anyone who’s seen the band.
Case in point: a recent Losin Streaks gig at some Old Sacramento gin joint where, within seconds of their opening salvo, lead guitarist Mike Farrell’s strap came off. What would have been a set-wrecking disaster in lesser hands turned into a jaw-slacking tribute of six-stringed bravura as Farrell held his weapon in every position but the “right” one, throwing off one-handed leads and fills while strutting around like a barnyard dandy, on cue and perfectly timed while the song chugged away barely controlled in the background. While this was entertaining the troops on one side of the room, drummer Matt Shrugg was attempting his patented 20-foot-high stick tosses in a room with 8-foot ceilings. Not that this mattered one whit to Shrugg, who accentuated every one of his Keith Moon rolls with a foot of maple careening upward as if he were trying to break through to the floor above. Bassist Stan Tindall rocked back and forth on Cuban heels, lending backup vocals and some mean bottom-end, while main larynx and rhythm guitarist Tim Foster was whacking away at his hollow-body guitar and testifying like a man possessed. And that was just the first song. Th’ Losin Streaks were just warming up.
What followed was the single finest set by a local rock ’n’ roll band that this writer has seen since, geez, Thin White Rope called it a day waaaaay back when. This night, Farrell proved himself to have no equal, cutting loose with his trademark arsenal of swanky moves and string abuse. Slouching in front of his amp, he held a chord with one hand as the other conjured a mass of swelling feedback, his face scrunched in an “I can’t bear to watch” look. And at exactly the right moment, he pulled himself out of his trance while his pained amplifier howled and spat out squealing, splintered shards of unadulterated noise. Then he started a lead that, in its 15-second lifespan, managed to squeeze in the entire history of rock ’n’ roll. The rest of the band members are human dynamos, too—as anyone who has seen the Trouble Makers, the combo that Foster, Tindall and Shrugg were in prior to the Streaks, can attest.
A couple of nights later, at the Streaks’ practice pad, the four members were huddled around engineer/boy-wonder Chris Woodhouse’s recording gear, putting the finishing touches on their new record, titled The Sounds of Violence—a piss-take on Simon & Garfunkel’s well-known record and song. To add another layer of insult to injury, the cover will be mocked up like Paul and Art’s Wednesday Morning, 3AM.
The record, blaring out of the speakers, flat-out rocked. Th’ Losin Streaks are, unabashedly, a garage band, but one that has been informed by the energy of early-1980s punk and hardcore, whose musicians also knew and elaborated on the visceral gut-punch of three-chord songs. Connect the dots between 1960s bands like the Standells, the Seeds, Music Machine and other Nuggets-era Beatle-booted delinquents and the breathless blur of punk-rock bands like the Dwarves, the Barracudas and the Dirtbombs, and you’ve got a pretty straight line. But Th’ Losin Streaks aren’t trapped in a stylistic cul-de-sac, thanks to their encyclopedic knowledge of all kinds of raw, high-energy music.
For a band that’s only been around in its current configuration for a little more than six months, Th’ Losin Streaks have been high-profile from the start. One reason was because their first show with Farrell was taped and shown on Good Morning Sacramento to a bunch of barely awake housewives; that was a cool and surreal boost. Then there’s the too-good-to-be-true lineup, consisting of four well-loved scene vets.
“You got the two biggest showoffs in Sacramento battling it out,” offered Foster as an explanation of the band’s immediate and rabid following. It doesn’t hurt having four honestly swell guys who live and breathe and play real rock ’n’ roll, the way it should be.
Th’ Losin Streaks: We should all be so unlucky.