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Sympathy Sessions

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Album Review

Parental advisory stickers be damned, this warningless sophomore effort from the Oblivians is packed full of explicit photos of very naked women. Mixed among the photos are shots of the Oblivian boys — Jack, Greg, and Eric (aka Jackie-O, Gregi, and Erica) — in drag. Needless to say, the only thing dirtier than the pictures is the actual music, some of the most spirited garage-abilly this side of the late, great Gibson Bros. With a bassless set up of two guitars, drums, and shifting vocal duties, the Oblivians somehow manage to create a fuller sound than many bands with twice as many members can muster. Songs tend to be short and to the point, but never sweet since the guitars walk a line between the smooth string-bending sound of vintage blues-based rock and guitar tones that conjure image of steel wool being rubbed on the strings. One of the key elements of rock & roll is humor; it allows the bands of only somewhat skilled musicians to not take themselves too seriously and be able to cut loose and rock out. The Oblivians have a wicked sense of humor. In addition to their garage chops and transvestite dabblings, the boys offer up songs with lyrics like "I am five hour man/ But she's an eight hour girl/ I think I'm in love." Recorded "live in the studio," Sympathy Sessions is probably the raunchiest rock & roll many listeners will ever come across, and the fact that the Oblivians hail from the historical town of Memphis, TN, makes their brand of sleaze rock all the more surprising. All said, the Oblivians' music is perhaps best described as being ing lo-fi 60s garage rock heavily influenced by years of listening to Ramones, Stooges, Lazy Cowgirls, Cramps, and Gibson Bros. records. While the songs tend to sound rather similar from one album to the next, what makes the Oblivians worthwhile is the sense of urgency they pour into their music as they evangelically implore listeners to embrace the power of rock & roll. ~ Karen E. Graves, Rovi


Formed: 1993 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Scaring the country folks of Memphis with their brand of sleazy raunch & roll since their 1995 debut album, Soul Food, the Oblivians refuse to mold into the stereotype of three-piece ensembles sounding "wimpy" or "watered down." Instead, the Oblivians pay tribute to the Ramones, the Sonics, and the Stooges by creating their own sound of nostalgic '60s garage punk with their use of lo-fi equipment. Following Soul Food, the next year brought a live studio collection entitled Sympathy Sessions and their...
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