YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

POP | Album Reviews

Tub Steals Away for a Few Drinks

*** 1/2 TUB, "Coffee Tea Soda Pop Pee" Centipede

May 06, 1999|MIKE BOEHM

Stop, thieves!

On second thought: You go, thieves!

Welcome Tub to the pantheon of scrappy scavengers on the rock 'n' roll scrapheap whose motto might be "What can a poor boy do, 'cept to steal from a rock 'n' roll band?"

The debut album from this Orange County band reveals it as a group of artful dodgers who pick the pockets of their elders and socioeconomic betters for the honorable purpose of getting some ya-yas out. And they don't even get around to knocking off the Stones until the second half of this delightful, if silly-named, album.

Tub, a foursome built around bassist Micah Peterson and Brandon Trca, a transplanted Iowan who sings and plays lead guitar, even has the gall to steal the Knack's "My Sharona" groove on the sixth track, "Coffee & Pills."

But by then, you're ready for anything, since they've already recast the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night" riff for track one, a "Duke of Earl"-ish '50s rock progression for track two, Cars guitars and a chorus of "Happy Jack"-like "nah-nah-nahs" on track three, and, victimizing the Who on a second song in a row, swiping the "Go to the Mirror, Boy" riff from "Tommy" for track four. "Prison Tattoo" and "Up in Arms Way" are shambling, gloriously messy rockers that sound like outtakes from "Exile on Main St."

Mindless theft stinks, but inspired theft is the cornerstone of rock 'n' roll. And Tub's appropriations from the past are inspired in a way that recalls the Pontiac Brothers/Liquor Giants helmed by Ward Dotson and Matt Simon, arguably the most consistently excellent and under-rewarded body of O.C. pop-rock of all.

Like those bands, Tub swipes freely from its forebears, but never sounds as if it's simply knocking off a golden oldie. The catchy melodies are the band's own, and the hot, shambling, headlong but deft attack, embodying the freedom-seeking surge beyond stricture of top-notch rock 'n' roll, simply can't be produced by musicians who don't feel it in their hearts and nerves.

Trca has one of those frayed, unfettered voices that's the antithesis of slick opportunism. It starts as a growl in his chest, becomes a gargle in his throat, circulates through stuffy nasal passages and passes his lips as a stringy yowl of anger, frustration, tart humor and release all ejected together.

Themes center around sexual frustration and anxious jealousy ("Don't Touch," "V-Neck") and underdog defiance ("Up in Arms Way" and "Goin' Out West").

As Big Star's career in the '70s, the Pontiac Brothers' in the '80s and Liquor Giants' in the '90s attest, inspired theft, an indelible melodic knack, and an imperfect but authentic lead voice can get a band of latecomers that's rooted in '60s influences buried in its own time. Good luck to Tub in giving the jinx a thumping.

Available from Centipede Records, 6245 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038;

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent), with three stars denoting a solid recommendation.

Los Angeles Times Articles