Playing genuinely evil rock n’ roll that draws equally from The Scientists and the deep roots of American blues and jazz, Meet Your Death is the antidote to feeble contemporary hot dog and burger rock and middling pseudo-psyche jams. Walter Daniels, who has played harmonica with artists as varied as the Oblivians and Eugene Chadbourne, returns to the imposing frontman role that he perfected with 90’s Austin legends Jack O’ Fire. An honest-to-god virtuoso on an instrument rarely heard in rock n’ roll and punk rock today, Daniels is the man who gets the call when somebody needs the national anthem played on a chromatic harmonica before a hockey game, or when James Williamson of the Stooges needs a feedback-squealing blues harp solo in the recording studio. Old enough to be the father of the members of most bands he shares the stage with, Daniels cuts a formidable figure, singing high-and-lonesome or growling with the Beefheartian authority that a millennial could never pull off.
Guitarist John Schooley is a veteran of the underground rock n’ roll world, as well, having recorded for Crypt with his first band the Revelators in the 1990s. Schooley has been performing as a one man band since his first single on Goner Records came out in 1996, and continues today, his most recent LP being ‘The Man Who Rode the Mule around the World ‘on the Swiss weirdo label Voodoo Rhythm. Daniels and Schooley remain an anomaly in today’s music world with their willingness to mix blues and country roots (via harmonica and slide guitar) with punk rock. Schooley collaborated with Daniels for the 2014 acoustic album ‘Dead Mall Blues’ (12XU), but wanted a chance to showcase Daniels’ nastier side, and Meet Your Death became the first time this one man band performed in a band with other musicians in over a decade. Releasing an acoustic country blues record would usually portend a mellowing out for two long-time musicians like Schooley and Daniels, so finding them instead teaming up with a young hotshot rhythm section to release the hard rock album of the year makes the Meet Your Death album even more surprising.
Joining Daniels and Schooley are two younger musicians, half the age of their band’s lead singer, who have already made names. Matt Hammer, besides having a perfect last name for a drummer, was a founding member of the Strange Boys, and later provided the blistering backbeat for Orville Neeley’s OBN IIIs. Bassist Harpal Assi has provided low end for hardcore titans Wiccans, Bad Faith and the Daniel Fried star vehicle, Video. Meet Your Death takes Daniels’ harmonica and Schooley’s slide guitar, puts it over a punk rhythm section, and proceeds to massacre songs that most bands today wouldn’t have the guts to attempt – if they even knew enough to be familiar with them in the first place. Digging deep into unknown and under-appreciated back catalogs, jazz pianist Mose Allison and island junkanoo shaman Exuma get the Meet Your Death treatment alongside the likes of Hank Williams and the Beasts of Bourbon. This makes for a collection of songs that will surprise even the most diehard record collector, and downright astound anyone who has previously only been buying cassettes released since 2008.
The world is falling apart in the year 2016, yet contemporary rock n’ roll has become an ironic diversion. In an era in which trust-fund wankers recycle glam kitsch for empty chuckles, Meet Your Death fits into the contemporary scene like slipping Clouzot’s Wages of Fear in-between episodes of a Saved by the Bell marathon. Utterly unlike anything currently playing on a contemporary festival stage, Meet Your Death is primal rock n’ roll – anti-fashion, anti-bubblegum, anti-“psych” (what passes for it nowadays, anyway), with improvisational wildness and bad intentions.