CHUCK LATENITE: Clean Cut Disguise: CD

Oct 18, 2006

There are few things i approach more cheerlessly than the concept of putting up with a guy playing his acoustic guitar in public or on record. In the thankfully limited number of circumstances where i have been required to stand before some i-will-now-stand-here-and-play-my-acoustic-guitar-and-sing-and-you-will-now-listen-to-me-doing-it types, i always feel like i age about another fifteen years in the first two minutes: My feet immediately feel like they used to after eight hours of janitorial duties in work boots; my vertebrae start aching; my jacket gets twenty pounds heavier. If i sit down, the chair becomes uncomfortable. If i buy a drink, the drink becomes uncomfortable. My ass feels like i’ve just driven from New Jersey to Indiana without a piss break. I am, in so many words, “not really a fan.” Along comes Chuck Latenite. He sends me his “acoustic punk rock” album because—he claims—he has “rocked out” to records i have made (that’s possible?), and it would please him to know that i at least briefly “rocked out” to his. Okay, fair enough. “I just want to give that feeling a-rock-n-roll gave to me,” as Billy Idol once said (cutting himself in for the bonus plan afterwards). Virtually everything i have ever heard by a punk rock guy playing an acoustic guitar has been utter dogshit, granted, but at least i don’t have to stand and watch the guy play—i can pop the CD in the deck of my rigg™ and listen to it while i’m driving. That way, when my ass feels sore and stiff like i’ve been driving, i won’t know the difference. The first song is an instrumental, “Resin Party”—presumably Chuck’s attempt at birthing the acoustic equivalent of “Heatseeker.” I am more amused than put off: Whenever i see some dude playing songs on an acoustic guitar, they always do this one thing—whuh, whuh, whuh, chicka-wicka-wacka wuh-wuh—for what seems like an eternity—and here Mr. Latenite has gone and based his entire opening salvo on—you guessed it—whuh, whuh, whuh, chicka-wicka-wacka wuh-wuh. Well, fine. Guy plays good, anyway. I drive along as the album continues. It soon becomes clear that Chuck is a purist, who appears to believe in a grand total of Four Things: 1. Getting drunk; 2. Getting high; 3. Lust; 4. Rock & Roll. That’s it. Fuck Twinkies™, fuck Jeeps™, fuck oyster crackers, he’s got his four components of life and everything else is unworthy of comment (although he does take a bit of a detour into 5. Math, but i view this diversion as merely a tool used to further facilitate #3). A number of songs pass. It begins to strike me that not only is Chuck’s acoustic guitar playing not uninteresting, his voice is really cool as well. He’s got it reverb-drenched and mixed down under the guitars, so he sounds like some street-smart but otherwise mildly challenged Elvis/Gene/Lux type, darkly percolating away while never hiccupping anything much more potentially charismatic than “I get drunk to rock ‘n’ roll / I smoke pipe to rock ‘n’ roll.” Amazingly, no matter how venereal the subject matter gets—doggy-styling “white girls without tattoos,” et al—things never come off with an obnoxious swagger, because the guy is NOT singing about drinking and fucking and rocking and getting high in order to yell “HEY! LOOK AT ME! I’M DRINKING AND FUCKING AND ROCKING AND GETTING HIGH!”, but is, in fact, offering a humble and heartfelt hosanna of praise to HIS GODS AND MASTERS. It is fucking completely pure. COMPLETELY. But, then again, y’know, it IS still one guy beating on an acoustic guitar, and, as indicated, i don’t have much faith in the medium. But then—stunningly, as these things tend to be—there is the Unforeseen Moment of Divine Greatness: “I Want You To Be My Girl.” Lyrics in toto: “I want you to be my girl, yeah I want you to be my girl, I want you to be my girl tonight.” One voice singing, one guitar beating out a trip-hammer neo-Leg Hounds rhythm, one guitar playing wild-ass acoustic leads off said rhythm. Rinse, lather, repeat. Fucking PERFECT (to all those whom i routinely denigrate for writing shit-simple but imperfect songs: Please take note of how, in a song that uses NINE WORDS total, the artist is actually able to convey a relatively broad [sorta] range of feeling by subtly placing the word “want” on the stressed first syllable of the first two lines, but locating the word “I” on that same syllable in the last line. That’s why HE’S Chuck Latenite, and you’re just squares with electric guitars who couldn’t even hold serve for rock ‘n’ roll against the guys with the backwards baseball caps and turntables!). Chuck Latenite, if you are not THE SHIT, then you are, at minimum, the well-masticated contents of the small intestine which, given enough time and the kindly intercession of the right manner of bacteria, are slated to one day become The Shit. I am currently rethinking my stance on the acoustic guitar as a worthwhile implement of rocking, as well as pondering the general outmodedness of musics requiring cumbersome amplification devices and such. I can say no more at present. BEST SONG: duh, pay attention, asshole. BEST SONG TITLE: I dunno, but the best line is “A hundred squared is what? Probly like ten thousand? I’m so blues that I live in public housing!” from “Low Number Blues” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This dude must really love The Rock ‘n’ Roll if he actually figured out the words to “Right Now” by Teengenerate!

–norb (Braindead)

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