The word “melodic,” sullied by so many tuneless noise bands, needs to be reclaimed for the careful practitioners who really deserve it — starting with the Liquor Giants.
Ward Dotson’s ongoing outlet for pure power-pop balances lyrical snarl and romantic disappointment, delicate ’60s British psychedelia and chunky arena rock, all cohering in shimmering arrangements. The Liquor Giants’ sixth album (counting a covers set) never misfires: It’s across-the-board accessible. “Fifth Wheel Time” sounds like music for a radio or TV ad targeting ’60s California youth culture. “Mach Show” layers Big Star rock ‘n’ roll abandon with Beach Boys harmonies and Dotson’s best Joe Walsh impression, also employed on the clique-bashing “All Of The Assholes”.
Following his varied resume as guitarist in the Gun Club (postmodern L.A. swamp blues) and leader of the Pontiac Brothers (like the Rolling Stones, if they had actual feelings), Dotson’s third cult band in his career will, sadly, likely remain so. The band’s time on Matador in the U.S. failed to overrun the indie world, so the cult today seems to be centered among a diehard cabal of critics, musos and Australians.
Three decades of direct influences come to a head in Dotson’s music: Beatles, Kinks, Brian Wilson, Badfinger, XTC, Replacements, Raspberries even — but I doubt Eric Carmen would be the one singing, “Industry hookers/are following orders.”