I first heard Ron Gallo when I saw him open for Screaming Females last year. I was impressed by his mix of punk, blues, and garage rock and picked up his EP, RG3. That EP was one of my favorite records of 2016, so I was eager to hear his full-length debut, Heavy Meta. I’m sure it will be right up there with my favorite records of 2017.
Beginning with his sure-to-be classic, “Young Lady You’re Scaring Me,” Heavy Meta gets off to a solid start with Gallo’s sizzling surf sound guitar and near-crazed vocals about a crazy lover he fears but just can’t ditch. “Put the Kids to Bed” is a 1960’s psychedelic freak-out / freak-on as Gallo pleads with his lover for a kinky quickie even though he realizes they may have passion but love has long since checked out (“When we were young, we said, ‘One day, honey, you and I we’re going to share a grave.’ I didn’t know it’d come so soon.”).
“Kill the Medicine Man” is blues filtered through a lava lamp in Marc Bolan’s living room. “Poor Traits of the Artist” continues the crunchy fuzz that Gallo and his band mates have not only embraced but mastered stunningly early in their careers. “Why Do You Have Kids?” is a hysterical diatribe against people who can’t take care of themselves trying to take care of children. “The kid’s got nothin’ to look up or forward to, no chance,” Gallo sings. We all know someone like that, and Gallo blares out the words we desperately want to say to him or her.
“Please Yourself” reveals Gallo’s love of sixties garage rock (listen to that near-bop beat for starters). “Black Market Eyes” switches gears and becomes a ballad that would make Wolfmother envious with its desert rock-like sound and rough-edged vocals. “Can’t Stand You” is an angry kiss-off to an ex. “Started a War” is a lazy psych-rock reverb dream about a woman storming out on Gallo for reasons he can’t figure (“Started a war, and all I said was nothin’.”).
“Don’t Mind the Lion” is about another woman Gallo wishes he could comfort after she’s fallen on hard times. The album ends with “All the Punks Are Domesticated,” in which Gallo offers a eulogy for everyone who thought they were going to stick it to the Man and change the world but have instead sold out and opted for smartphone screens and a world in which “Pop-Tarts climb the pop charts” and “No one really has anything to say.” He’s mostly right. Hardly anyone wants to do anything dangerous in the world of art and would rather talk about him or herself than have a conversation about anything that might challenge the fragile ecosystem they’ve built around them. Gallo even thinks that he’ll “be forgotten in two generations.”
He won’t be if he keeps up albums like this, however. He’s not only made a good rock record (which we need more than ever these days), he’s given us a glass of cold water in the face. Wake up and do something. Start with getting this album.
Keep your mind open.
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