REVIEW: Gallery of Mites – “Bugs on the Bluefish”

By Dan Century

Chain Border

Bugs on the BluefishSummer. What does summer mean to you? For me, summer is hot shimmering asphalt, cold beer, all-day road trips along psychotic mountain roads, mirrored sunglasses, idling two hours in traffic trying to find parking at the Jersey shore, fireworks and your sister in a tangerine bikini. And every summer needs a kickass soundtrack – for me it's The Gallery of Mites' Bugs on the Bluefish.

Back in the 1970s someone came up with the term "supergroup" to describe a band made up of members of other rock bands. Some of these experiments were successful and fruitful, and some were just plain awful. The Power Station, The Traveling Wilburys, Damn Yankees, Asia, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Highwaymen and the Revolting Cocks are all supergroups. Gallery of Mites is a stoner-rock supergroup, similar to the "Dessert Sessions" produced by members of Queens of the Stone Age. At the core of Gallery of Mites are current and former Monster Magnet members Tim Cronin, Joe Calandra, Jon Kleiman, Phil Caivano, and Ed Mundell. Add Jim Baglino and Mike Schweigert from Lord Sterling, Tommy Southard from Solace, Duane Hutter from Black Nasa, Stu Gollin from Halfway to Gone, and John Garcia from Kyuss/Hermano – and you end up with 3 bass players, 6 guitarists, 2 singers, 1 drummer and 1 harmonica dude; all on one album. With that many players and talent in the mix, you would expect this album to be a mess of egos, guitar-solo battles and sloppy experiments, but Bugs on the Bluefish is anything but that. To the Mites' credit, Bugs consistently sounds like a tight four or five member band, not eleven dudes crowded into a studio.

The Mites' sound is raw and rhythmic rock n' roll, mid-fi production and loose yet absolutely perfect musicianship. Monster fans, like myself, who prefer their old, pre-major label sound should rejoice. Guitars are raw and crisp, the tempos are quicker than you would expect and there are plenty of unexpected touches like handclaps and tambourines – they're more riff than stoner and more boogie than blues. Bugs drips with acid for your head, rhythm for your hips and rock for your road – it's the type of album that will drive me to commit crimes and get myself locked up again. I just know it.

Bugs blasts off the line with Exploded View: a fast paced rocker with super sweet guitar production. The rhythm guitar has this very cool piano/keyboard sound – nice! Vocals are balsy and raw too. Makes you wonder why Tim Cronin every deferred vocal duties to Dave Wyndorf. Next up is Headless Body, Topless Bar – a good movie and now a great song. Packed with attitude and brutal grooves that rock and shake, like a bucking bull. "God damn bartender won't fill my glass. There's a time and a place – for me to put my boot right in your face". I hear you brother!

Chocolate Rabbit is a sheet of acid rock that could have been recorded in the 60's. Fat organs, screaming wahs and drums that will make your hippy girl go wild. X's For Eyes grooves and twists thanks to some hip-shaking riffs, handclaps, tasty bridges and humorous lyrics. A Man Called Shit – I guess we couldn't have an album with six guitarists without a psychedelic jam? A Man Called Shit will remind you of Monster Magnet's Tab album, or some of Funkadelic's fuzzier moments. The album closes with the nasty & funky Bugs On The Bluefish – a classic slab of groove rock, washed up on the Jersey shore for your delight.

If I were a rock DJ I'd play Bugs amongst riff-rockers like the Supersuckers, classic Stooges, just about anything off the Nuggets 60's acid-rock boxed set, the latest QOTSA album and Motor City rockers White Stripes, E6, and the Detroit Cobras. Bugs is like whiskey – it mixes well with just about anything and goes down great as a solo shot as well. If you like your rock to roll, burn, buck, shudder, shake, twist, shout and kick ass, grab Bugs on the Bluefish today.

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