LISTEN LIKE THIEVES: Redd Kross’ Researching The Blues


PITCHFORK: Released in 1982, Redd Kross’ debut record, Born Innocent, was to mall-punk what homo erectus was to modern man. Founded in the suburbs outside of Los Angeles, the band, led by teenage brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald, wrote scrappy and bratty three-chord pop songs that betrayed a fascination with B-movie kitsch via references to Charles Manson, The Exorcist actress Linda Blair, and sugar-infused breakfast cereals. According to legend, they even opened for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party. But eventually, Redd Kross accrued some polish. By the early 90s, the band had evolved into a heavy but hooky power-pop outfit. After a few years spent wandering the globe supporting less-worthy, yet more successful, alternative era bands– Spin Doctors and Stone Temple Pilots, among them– Redd Kross decided to hang it up for a while, easing into an indefinite hiatus following the release of their 1997 album, Show World. MORE

ALL MUSIC GUIDE: After Jeff and Steven McDonald reconvened Redd Kross in 2006 (with the late-’80s line-up of guitarist Robert Hecker and drummer Roy McDonald), they seemed content to play the occasional festival show or short tour. For Redd Kross fans waiting for more music, it looked like 1997’s Show World might be it as far as new albums went. The brothers had a trick up their sleeve, though, and in 2012 they released Researching the Blues, a self-produced album that not only continues their stellar recorded legacy but gives it an electric boost. Not only is it their best-sounding album yet, totally alive and raw, but it contains some of the hookiest songs and most thrilling performances of their almost-35-year career in rock & roll. MORE

BLURT: Researching the Blues is a goddamn gem, crackling with energy, that totally celebrates the pure bliss and joy that rock ‘n’ roll can, and should be.  In short, it’s everything that you were hoping it would be. The band itself is very happy with the outcome and proclaims the effort as their best to date. Most of the songs were written by Jeff over a period running from 2007 to 2008, recorded then, with Steven overseeing most of the production and mixing earlier this year. It was important to Steven to control most of the final mix himself, to keep their vision intact and for it to sound like it did in their heads. The band consists of the classic Neurotica line up of Jeff and Steven, Robert Hecker and Roy McDonald. MORE

THE GUARDIAN: In 2012, the notion of Redd Kross – a guitar band with a dogged devotion to past forms – seems wildly conservative. But these Los Angelenos were once a supremely post-modernist band, backing their knowing, pop-culture-referencing lyrics with music that celebrated manufactured bubblegum pop every bit as much as the LA punk scene whence they came. Think of them as the original hipster heroes. At times, it made them a better idea than a group (Notes and Chords Mean Nothing to Me, from their 1982 debut, sounded like an apt assessment). Researching the Blues – from a group less likely to research the blues than watch The Partridge Family – might sound out of time now, but the seventh Redd Kross album has a satisfying crunch to the guitars, and riffs strong enough to remind listeners why the group were once expected to be stars. Tremendous fun for powerpop lovers from start to finish. MORE