They’re probably not going for it, but Rocking Hammer has this raw, early garage rock sound that I rarely hear anymore. They only keep this sound going well some of the time. The rest of the time I hear shades of Beck, Them, The Grassroots, Nation of Ulysses, Atomic Rooster, The Zombies, Van Der Graaf Generator, and a whole slew of mid-60’s psychedelic sludge mixed with the 1990’s era Dischord Records back catalog.
But let’s get back to this garage rock, proto punk, raw ass sound. Let me be clear, the whole album is raw. Sound quality, vocals, guitar distortion, feedback out the ass, it’s all there. Rocking Hammer succeeds in mimicking that sound…rather..creating that sound. Many bands in the past have tried and failed. Others, like The Bloody Hollies, Chrome, Guitar Wolf, and The Fuzztones have caught on with the right amount of distortion and feedback. Rocking Hammer is part of the latter.
The first three tracks on this blank album are amazing. Personally, I would have made “Use Your Charm” as an opening track to grab the new and uninformed listener’s attention and then followed with “Centrifuge Man”. So all of this is amazing, and then we get to track 4; “What Kind Of God Are You?”. We get 3 tracks of pure energy, then we get the saddest, sad bastard, love/heartbreak/death/rejection song in the history of the universe. It’s still good, it just seems out of place. Then tracks 5 and 6, we’re back up to 60’s power pop mashed with bubblegum sensibility and some Screamin Jay Hawkins just for the hell of it. Ok, so we’re halfway through and the album gets back into its proto-punk roots, and I’m a happy boy again. We have a slew of great early psych rock inspired tracks and then “Photonegative” hits us square in the middle of the forehead. Is this a hardcore punk song cleverly disguised within a garage punk album? Yes, it is. To think that if Odessa Stair concentrated all of their musical talent and songwriting skills in this direction; Philadelphia based hardcore bands would have a new contender to deal with. The album ends on a positive note, with 2 great tracks, “On The Prowl” and “Grid of Days”. Overall this apparently unnamed album is pretty amazing.
Without knowing too much about them, Rocking Hammer is The Stooges for people with a small gas huffing problem.