A NEW CROP of independent LPs and EPs emphasizes the obsession of many American bands with '50s and '60s rock'n'roll. Happily, heady doses of humor and passion elevate most of them above moribundity.
KEITH STRENG -- "Full Time Men" (Coyote TTC 8562). Keith Streng has come up with a solid if unoriginal three-song collection of '60s guitar rock that isn't quite as manic or danceable as the sounds of his regular group, the Fleshtones. With R.E.M.'s Peter Buck adding his guitar to the attack, the songs are also a little more psychedelic than the Fleshtones'. The exception is the hand-clapping "Way Down South," worthy of early U.S. Bonds.
THE GEORGIA SATELLITES -- "Keep the Faith" (Making Waves 301). Anyone with a taste for the dual guitar sound of the Stones circa "Exile on Main Street," will revel in these six roadhouse rockers. The crunching, snarling guitars of Dan Baird and Rick Richards also conjure up Johnny Winter and early Z.Z. Top. The songs are well written and, at times, quite majestic in a swaggering redneck fashion.
CIRCLE JERKS -- "Wonderful" (Combat Core CC8048). These granddaddies of L.A. hard-core punk have sacrificed some of their head-banging fury here and come up with a more disciplined sound. The speedy start-and- stop rhythms and buzz guitar are both precise and in the background, so that leather- throated Keith Morris can make sure each word of his politically acute attacks on racism, conformity and war can be heard. Fortunately, there's still some humor with the bite.
THE LYRES -- "Someone Who'll Treat You Right Now" (Ace of Hearts 2005). Jeff Conolly still plays the punk better than any garage revivalist going. His circus organ, splashy tambourine and garbled vocals lead the way through three new originals that sound as though Conolly never made it past 1966. Call it revivalism or classicism, but Conolly's single-minded emotional conviction makes it worth the time warp.
THE RAUNCH HANDS -- "El Rauncho Grande" (Relativity EMC 8060). In six songs, this New York band crams in an encyclopedia of rootsy influences -- Bo Diddley and maracas, Link Wray and surf guitar, hillbilly and Tex-Mex, wild cries and drunken belches and much more. The musical ethos here is low- down, greasy and joyously rocking Americana. It's a knockout debut.