Fu Manchu is the most brilliant rock band on the planet. Sure, sure, their promo photos look like Foghat outtakes and their songs sound like Jeff Spicoli dry-humping Pet Sounds in a bongwater Jacuzzi -- but that's the brilliant part. Rock & roll genius is measured by different standards than conventional genius. Conventional genius says Blue Oyster Cult cover songs are a piss-poor idea: Fu Manchu power-stroked its way through a three-quarter-speed cover of "Godzilla" on Eatin' Dust (Man's Ruin) and showed that pseudointellectual astronomy rock, when handled by pseudointellectuals, is a glorious thing. Conventional genius says you either undercut your guitars with Limp turntable bullshit or supersize the pathos to bathos if you want to make rock your Creed: Fu Manchu climbs atop a Jesus-sized mountain of fuzzy tube amps and rocks as if the eight-track was designed solely for its abuse potential, and never mind the grunge. Conventional wisdom says that in rock, more is more: Fu Manchu says that in rock, rock is rock.
California Crossing (Mammoth) is Fu's latest thesis on rock, and if this doesn't garner the band an honorary degree from MIT, then those eggheads are too smart for their own damn good. Fu Manchu meticulously breaks down time, space and rock's dramatic trinity (cars, good times and gettin' wasted) to their smallest known element (the Ramone) and then reconfigure them over and over and over, using nothing more than the guitar/guitar/bass/drum paradigm. Science may be able to clone sheep, map the human genome and even make a decent butter substitute, but Fu Manchu can travel into the future -- OK, not far into the future, but they're just across the dateline into the endless tomorrow. And tomorrow is always sunny, the surf's always up and the van is always gassed, grassed and ready to pick up ass. So you can take conventional genius and cram it with walnuts, because Fu Manchu is smart enough to figure out it's always tomorrow somewhere.
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment