At about thirteen, I went to a Soldier of Fortune convention with my brother, who is currently a major in the Army. It was basically a swap meet for mercenaries. Being that this was the mid-‘80s, ninja movies were being released daily and there were videos of topless women shooting automatic weapons for sale at multiple booths. I remember putting having to decide what to do with my ten dollars: a throwing star (that my mother would not approve of) or a T-shirt that said, “Ninja, sminja. You can’t karate chop a bullet!” with the silk-screen of a mercenary shooting a ninja on the front. I bought the T-shirt. There are some dumb hurdles one has to get over when approaching music. I couldn’t get that T-shirt out of my mind when the band name Ninja Gun came up. I really liked that T-shirt, but I didn’t want to listen to a band that reminded me of it. It doesn’t make sense, I know. On the first several listens, I could admit that Ninja Gun were pleasant. Like Big Star pleasant: melancholic, melodic, measured—but with subtle country inflections. In fact, they reminded me of a lot of overlooked music from the middle of America in the mid-‘70s, stuff that never got proper attention due to the progressive rock bloat weighing down the top of the charts. You know, bands that broke up due to “lack of commercial success” and then got rediscovered decades later because they put their songwriting and music first. The other thing that I had to wrestle with is that Ninja Gun—like the Hot New Mexicans I review in this rotation—has few outward trappings of punk, even if you have a very liberal interpretation of it. It’s only with a close listening to the lyrics and the approach to the songs that you realize that, yes, you want these rural boys on our side when “shit goes down,” or when you want for “shit to get real fun.” A welcome, unexpected batch of songs. If you like Whiskey & Co. and haven’t picked this up, it’s highly recommended.
–todd (Suburban Home)