The Gamma Goochies

The Gamma Goochies
Return to Planet Beer!

I’ve always had a soft spot for MacGyver singers: vocalists who might not have all the necessary tools at their disposal, but are really effective at utilizing what they’ve got. Dicky Barrett of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones soundtracked my formative years with his flat, sandpaper grunt. Anthony Kiedis did the same with his horny frat-boy pseudo-rap. Aaron “Hot Dog” Haines, lead singer of Portland’s retro-greaser-punk outfit The Gamma Goochies, is definitely a MacGyver singer. His voice falls somewhere between Barrett’s and Iggy Pop’s at his most purposefully atonal. On the quartet’s second album, Return to Planet Beer!, Haines fully embraces the cartoonishness of his stage name by belting every lyric in a gravelly growl that grabs our attention, even when it’s only tangentially related to melody. The Goochies favor revved-up takes on timeless Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry chord progressions. Add Haines’ histrionics and you’ve got a record that sounds like an oldies cover band after the better part of a 12-pack. I’m guessing this band is best experienced live — I’d love to see how they translate their sloppy swagger to the stage. As an album, Return to Planet Beer! is largely disposable, and often grating. Haines doesn’t have that Bosstones horn section, or Flea, to smooth over his rough edges. Which is too bad, because this guy can do a lot with a paper clip and a piece of string.

— Joe Sweeney

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