The Sovines

Saturday, May 11; Frederick's Music Lounge.

May 8, 2002 at 4:00 am
Picture the following garage: Along one wall, a vintage beer-can collection covers up a vintage Joan Jett poster, a chrome grill leans against a cigarette-pocked sofa sleeper, irreparable guitar amps stand next to irreparable drum kits, copies of MAD magazine and Maximum Rock & Roll devolve among obscure country and punk 45's, and the useless memorabilia -- mostly decal-decorated shot glasses and foam feed caps -- of Midwest truck stops and dives gather grime beside pizza cartons scrawled over with saxophone charts. Some Columbus, Ohio, neighborhood association should have long ago asked the Sovines to clean up that mess, but after some six years together their boom-chick-slam take on garage rock has remained as sweaty, dirty and definitively twangy as it gets. They still have the cheek to shred classic honky-tonk, and they still grind out rock & roll that's loud, fast but not so out-of-control that the shape and story of a song become afterthoughts. And yeah, the Sovines still sing about trucks the way Jimmie Rodgers sang about trains and Johnny Rotten sang about annihilation.

But with some of their best songs -- guitarist Matt Benz's slashing tale of soul death "Bitter Root" or lead singer Bob Starker's cryptic homage to alcoholic sacrifice "Jesus Dionysus" -- the Sovines do more or less what rock & rollers should: They dive into the trash of life for the rough-cut gems most of us overlook. And they have a blast doing it.