The Karl Hendricks Trio

The Jerks Win Again (Merge)

The Jerks Win Again is the perfect title for the seventh LP by these Pittsburgh purveyors of regular-guy rock. Guitarist/bandleader Karl Hendricks has always had a penchant for scathing observations about how the system screws the little guy. And the wry ironies of his lyrics, which sometimes fall just short of smarmy, epitomize how far Hendricks is from a fame-seeking rock star. The opening track, "Chuck Dukowski Was Confused," salutes another underdog, in this case the former bass player of Black Flag, who, as Hendricks notes, "wrote the best song on Damaged" even though "Henry Rollins gets all the backstage head." It's just this kind of inequity that Hendricks scorns, and his flare for topical songs is endless. One example is "The Ballad of Bill Lee," in which he takes the side of the former Red Sox hurler who got run out of the game because organized baseball took exception to his "weird" behavior (making him the perfect hero for an oddball like Hendricks, of course). Rounded out by Caulen Kress on bass and Jake Leger on drums, the Trio is capable of excellent midtempo material, not unlike Neil Young at his Crazy Horse best or Dinosaur Jr. pre-Sire Records. Fuzz is an ever-present factor, and the band's tendency to stomp down the dusty trail of long-winded improvising without much variation is obvious. The Karl Hendricks Trio, true to its everyman posture, will never be a band that heralds the coming ages, but for a bunch of regular guys, they're pretty damn sweet.

 
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