Full House Head
(No Quarter; 2010)
By David M. Goldstein | 29 July 2010
A quick gander at Endless Boogie’s artist page on their label’s website reveals that they just spent the month of May touring Europe, leaving one to marvel that 1) they actually must have European fans, and 2) Endless Boogie somehow boarded an airplane. All of the buzz surrounding 2008’s Focus Level gave the impression that it was hardly the stuff of NME dreams, but rather a low-key victory lap from hometown boys that made good, a blooze-rock fantasy camp comprised of late 40-something employees of Matador Records with a frontman who uses the band as an excuse to leave his house. Focus Level portrayed Endless Boogie as a band clearly indebted to its namesake, comprising 75 minutes of dueling guitar choogle (really, the only proper description here) that generally meandered but occasionally smoked when the drummer remembered to play. In a perfect world, the raised pint glass drive of “Coming Down the Stairs” would be a bar fight staple on every roadhouse jukebox in America (and it’s already proved it’s awesomeness by somehow playing on the iPod at the hipster ramen joint in my neighborhood each of the last four times I’ve eaten there).
Full House Head is Endless Boogie’s second release for No Quarter, and while I’m unsure of their current day job status, it at least suggests they’ve finally warmed up to the idea of being a viable rock band. Veteran indie jack of all trades Matt Sweeny has been entrusted with “production,” and while in this case that probably means little more than mic placement and the “record” button, this time out the band does sound slightly crisper without sacrificing their appealing mid-fi aesthetic. But most importantly, the ratio of legitimate jams to stoned noodling is significantly higher than it was on Focus Level: the torrents of bedroom flexing solos remain, but now there’s even evidence that the band was thinking about the arrangements ahead of time, resulting in cool, dare I say it, pop touches like false endings and tension/release climaxes.
“Tarmac City” does for a Harley road trip what “Coming Down the Stairs” did for bar fights, with Chrissie-Hynde-haircut-clad frontman Paul Major (aka “Top Dollar”) hoarsely barking about the “rubbery (every?) road / settin’ me free!!” over a filthy slide guitar workout. “Top Dollar Speaks His Mind” might as well be the band’s krautrock jam, sitting on a two-note motorik groove for over seven tension-building minutes before someone steps on a wah-pedal and sends the song into orbit. The future hipster iPod staple, though, has got to be “Mighty Fine Pie,” a good-timey choogle about a “whu-mon” blessed with killer pastry skills (“Key lime or mincemeat / Any kind of pie just wanna eat it!”), who apparently makes a pie so awesome that Top Dollar is “gonna steal it from your windowsill / you bet [he] will!” Given their chosen genre’s love of saucy double entendre, one can imagine what Top Dollar really means when he shouts, “Don’t need a fork man / I’m gonna eat it with my hands!” But given the band’s hang dog personnel and reclusive history, and further luscious descriptions of “apple, pumpkin, blueberry / any kind of pie will do baby,” one can conclude the song probably really is about Endless Boogie’s love for quality baked goods. Bonus points for the “Mmmmm! So Good!!!” false ending followed by a deftly placed “Brown Sugar” riff.
Ultimately, Full House Head is a significant improvement over Focus Level: a fine collection of mindless summer blooze jams from expert players worthy of recognition. The meandering tracks that harshed Level’s buzz haven’t been entirely excised, but there’re fewer of them, and the ramped up production makes them a lot more tolerable. The inclusion of a 20-minute archival jam (“A Live Worth Leaving”), bearing no relation to the rest of the album, is a questionable move, but it can be easily avoided. And by that time, you’ll have likely had all of the endless, blue-eyed boogie you can stand. Which I think we can all agree is a healthy problem.