The last time I heard two men play with the intensity of a full-bore “band” was Mike Watt and George Hurley doing the music of my (and their) late, beloved Minutemen – until now. Robert Malta (guitar and vocals) and Matt Norelli (drums) are the “two man power trio” that comprise HUGElarge and they erupt with this debut album of familiar and well-loved covers from the ’60’s and ’70’s. Even the album art has a coolness that fits alongside the music contained within.
Since this album is filled with highlights, the one that grabbed me most is “Who’ll Be The Next In Line”, a most favored Kinks song to me – stripped down to the bare bones and balls – brief and slammed out with gusto; The Standells’ “Sometimes Good Guys Dont Wear White” has a nice feel and a bitchin’ slide guitar solo; The Charlatans’ (by way of Buffie Sainte-Marie) “Codeine” gets a heavy, bluesy treatment and has a lot of emotion in the delivery and Johnny Thunders’ “Born To Lose” has a 100-m.p.h. pace and a great vocal.
As several of the classics from Nuggets are sampled, the standout is the rendition of The Sonics’ “Have Love Will Travel”, which is sparse and crisp with some of the finest guitar sounds I’ve heard in a while. The Jarmels’ 1961 “A Little Bit Of Soap” gets punked up and manages to work for a song that was at the tail-end of the vocal-group era; “Poison Ivy” is given a Cramps-like workout and kicks good and hard and “96 Tears” closes the 16 song collection in damned fine style.
This is something everyone can sink their teeth into. Hard to forget the name – HUGElarge. Let it loom big in the not-too-distant future.
HUGElarge will be released Tuesday, September 29th, 2015.