The Austin Chronicle

The Memphis Goons

March 28, 1997, Music

Teenage BBQ (Shangri-La)

A stagger to the left of the Velvet Underground and a swing to the right of the Shaggs, the Memphis Goons never let their limited grasp of musical rudiments shatter their ambition. The Goons existed in Elvis' backyard from 1970 to 1973, but the locale could've been any American bedroom community. For years, the trio's recordings were dark little family secrets safely hidden away in an attic. But starting with the first official Goons' release on Rise in 1995, the band finally began cashing in on the cult status that should've been theirs 20-plus years ago. Teenage BBQ fits into today's garage-punk ethos well enough to make some skeptical of its vintage status. However, the element that truly distinguishes the Goons is the way their music conveys pop star aspirations. In their own peculiar way, the Goons incorporate country-honk ("San Antonio Desert"), boogie-woogie blues ("Chop Chop Chop"), and adolescent medieval ruminations ("The Brazen Man") into their garage band foundation as though they were superstar visionaries. If that doesn't convince you the Goons had world domination in the back of their minds, take in their cover of Paul Revere & the Raiders' "Indian Giver." How the Goons' distorted mush transforms itself into magic is a bit of a mystery, but unsullied teen-age honesty is certainly a key component. This is the $100 bill you've been waiting to find in an old pair of pants.
(4.0 stars) -- Greg Beets

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