hree-piece rock ‘n roll music group Scene Creamers plays music that sounds just like Cream. They appear to be part of the "new-garage" scene, but they take it slightly farther than the rest of the acts in that subsect of modern rock by stripping away the glossy production, making the riffs a little heavier and obvious, and, in turn, sound more like Orange-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or a less aggressive Boss Hog for a good portion of this record. The Creamers (for the record, that’s gotta be the worst band name of all-time) are led "salted bluesman" Ian Svenonius and bassist Michelle Mae, who were once part of Weird War, a pretty-similar sounding group whose press photos included Chief Littlefoot Indians playing electric guitar, and the Make-Up, another wannabe garage/soul rock outfit. This new combo is on the oh-so-hip Drag City, and really, with this kind of atmosphere and a knowing tip of the hat to their forebearers, this is not a straightfoward rock ‘n roll record, kids. Is this the most overtly and head-smackingly obvious ironic record since Odelay? Nah. But close.Like Hansen, Svenonius isn’t laughing with you, he’s laughing at you, and when he asks you to get your ass on the floor on "Better All The Time," it’s really an invitation to go spin some records alone in your apartment, or whatever’s suitably cool. Of course he really wants to dance, you know, I mean, this guy’s a rock-and-roller, he was on Dischord, he was in a band with Neil Haggerty; but nah. Or, maybe he does. But the delivery sells it, and a song that opens with a descending chromatic wail and psychedelic wah-wah slide is just a bit much. For a guy who used to be in a band where the debut record was a live recording, he’s lost a bit of that urgency, and appears to have reverted back to that precious stage in junior high, laughing at everyone else and spinning Led Zeppelin records.
Svenonius must see himself in the grand tradition of great classic rock guitarists—ironically, of course—as he pillages through the entire Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Hendrix songbooks, nicking chord progressions; guitar riffs; falsettoed, airy vocals; and growling bottom end all over the places. And, naturally, these are some damn catchy songs. "Elfin Orphan," based completely off the "Whole Lotta Love" bassline, features a repeated hook in the upper register son top of wailing, Southern-fried blues guitar breaks. "Wet Paint" has an eerie "Gimme Shelter" ring to it, with sparse percussion and shuffling guitars, and "Bag Inc.", with its sparse acoustic strum over heavily distorted guitar, makes for a highly danceable rock and roll ditty. Hell, entire chunks of this record are devoted to out-and-out psychedelia, with swirling, yearning guitars and a guest appearance by what appears to be Satan himself on "One Stone."
Thankfully, Svenonius knows when he’s gone a bit too far, throwing in acoustic tracks here and there to keep our attention from straying on the rampant garage feel—but, like another band from this current Top 40 fad, The Vines, don’t know when the songs he’s throwing on just kind of suck. A few of them are passable as Byrds tributes, but the emotion he tries to convey on the sparser acoustic numbers don’t ring true — kind of like the reason the most beautiful song on Odelay was called "Jack-ass."In conclusion, folks, Svenonius stays true to his roots on this one and pumps out the same god damn garage-rock he’s been making since 1996. Like the genre itself, there’s nothing new here.
Reviewed by: Sam Bloch
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01