Do Things LP
For your late-night listening pleasure New Wet Kojak return from oblivion with a new LP entitled Do Things. In the words of the title track, which we should mention right away: “No matter where you are/ no matter what you do/ remind yourself:/ this is the glamorous/ this is solid gold/ we got to do things/ the future already happened, man/ do things.”
On a cloud of sound that is both smooth and repetitiously inflammatory NWK lays out the basic facts: we got to do things. Things we’ll remember, things we shouldn’t do, things we wanna do no matter what. You get the idea - do the math - do things.
NWK started as a side project for Girls Against Boys members Scott McCloud and Johnny Temple (vox/acoustic and bass, respectively) in late 1992. The two soon recruited some of the best from Washington, DC’s vibrant music scene. Nick Pellicciotto (formerly of Edsel) was kidnapped late one night in 1994 and brought blindfolded to a studio where he was instructed to play drums. Geoff Turner (formerly of Gray Matter) and Charles Bennington, the recording masterminds behind fabled DC studio WGNS, were behind the mixing desk at the time and were thus roused into joining the band as well. Charles plays the wild saxophone stuff and Geoff plays electric guitar, keyboards, and all manners of ambient sounds.
The line-up solidly in place New Wet Kojak went into the studio to record their first LP for Touch & Go Records. The self-titled album was released in 1995 and the band began touring up and down the East coast. With their second LP, Nasty International, the scope of the bands touring, which had always been sporadic and chaotic, increased somewhat, but not a lot. East Coast clubs were visited again and the band took the show to Europe playing in both Belgium and Holland.
NWK has always preferred to keep wide open spaces between periods of intense activity. This is primarily why it has taken the band three years to make this new LP. There was the obvious wait for the feeling to be “wet.” And of course the wait for the time to be “right.” And these new songs are nothing if not “wet” and “right.” From the start of Do Things it is evident that NWK, while insanely arrogant and self-referential, are still aware that they are nowhere at allÜyet. “Go4TheOverkill” is a perfect rejection of a life of idleness (as well as a confrontation of the issue of whether to stop or continue).
“These are the rules of the game: Go for the overkill.”
And just what were those rules again?
The title track “Do Things” lurches in with provocative symphonic samples and shouted sloganeering, which just nails another nail in the coffin of the idea of shutting NWK up. By the time “PunxNotDead” hits, itÆs virtually all over. “Its like I’m Romeo, and you’re Juliet…and I’m Zorro (and baby punx not dead),” spits McCloud. Its hard to take him seriously, but maybe its not about being taken seriously at all. In fact its about letting anything happen, including some sleazy vocal lines, skronking saxophones, imploding 80’s guitar histrionics, and whatever else the song might call for. By the time “Def Con Soul” arrives, things have gotten smoky indeed. It becomes evident that despite all the randomness of the sound, NWK is capable of something that sounds entirely together, and even beautiful. Mixed in are the more wild uncontained numbers like “This Is The USA”, and “Bad Blood” which always make the Kojak live experience somewhat of a roller coaster ride (albeit a slow one) of mood changes: stripped down rock, pure noise, softcore noise jazz freak outs… whatever you wanna call it.
“Auto-E” is straight up simple songwriting; “I Wanna See What’s Up With When You Move” is either a pick-up line, or a statement about the staleness of rock and roll today. From a smoothish blanket of snyths and saxophone, the vocal non-sequiter runs: “Where did you go?/ What did you do?/ I wanna see what’s up/ with when you move/ allright/ kick ass rock and roll.”
Somewhere between smooth and abrasive, New Wet Kojak make the kind of music that if nothing else is always different, always interesting, and a few steps back from your face. Dark humor, dark beats and just enough fun to keep things intoxicating.
Dark, moody, and still light enough to catch you on a hook, New Wet Kojak are the melting pot of rock, with elements of emo, jazz, experimental, noise, pop, and punk playing equally important roles in their music.
Take, for instance, “go4theoverkill,” with its deep, impacting bass lines, experimental rhythms, and noise backdrop all colliding with an emo-rock song in the forefront. Or the eerie “Love Career,” a song that is as much an electronica experimental number as it is a pop-rock/emo ditty. And then there is “Sticky,” which is about as straight-ahead rock as the band gets. Elements of jazz weave in and out of the pop-rock-noise number.
The band isn’t afraid to stretch out, expand, and grow - often in the same song. They have no fears or reservations about shaking things up or throwing in a little something extra here and there. And they do it so well, why shouldn’t they? I’ll give it a B.