Hot Snakes | Audit In Progress (Swami)

Now you might think that being brainwashed and biased would equal “Audit in Progress walks on water.” You would be partially right, for this a great album.


Our esteemed editor once referred to herself as a “Saddle Creek whore” in her review for said label’s Various Artists: 50 compilation. While I can’t count myself in the same stable, I can share the sentiment. While my “loyalties” are not tied down to a particular label, it safe to say that I am a brainwashed member of “Speedo’s Army,” this being the RFTCs’ pseudo fan club. Speedo has a real name—John Reis to be specific—but he’s best known as the front man for San Diego’s Rocket From the Crypt. Loyalties to this band are obsessive to the point of thousands of fans across the world have RFTC tattoos adorned in various parts of their bodies. The reward? RFTC provides free admission to each and every RFTC show and, from time to time, exclusive “tattoo-only” seven inches.

Oh, but Speedo’s Army loyalties don’t stop there. This also includes former and current Reis bands, Sultans, Back off Cupids, Pitchfork, and Drive Like Jehu. The later two of these bands featured guitarist Rick Froberg. While Pitchfork served as a starting point for the two, Drive Like Jehu was a juggernaut. Their second LP Yank Crime is the best record of the ’90s—and yes, I want to fight if you disagree.

Unfortunately, the acrimony of recording Yank Crime brought Drive Like Jehu to an abrupt and early death. Froberg went on to be a graphic artist and Reis continued on with RFTC. The absence of Jehu left a definite void in the musical universe. However, in 2000 Reis and Froberg returned with Hot Snakes. They were immediately my favorite band. They were decidedly different from Jehu, but I couldn’t have cared less. Their debut LP Automatic Midnight was a flat-out smoking punk record. Suicide Invoice followed and while more restrained than their debut, it was equally as good.

Thus arrives their latest LP, Audit in Progress. Now you might think that being brainwashed and biased would equal “Audit in Progress walks on water.” You would be partially right, for this a great album. However, unlike the fairly noticeable differences between Suicide Invoice and Automatic Midnight, Hot Snakes more or less dip into the well this time around. The results are great; however, it feels a little redundant. This is silly, nitpicky observation, but if and when album four comes out, it would nice to detect some lateral movement in the band’s sound.

“Braintrust,” “Retrofit,” “Kreative Kontrol,” “Hatchet Job,” and “Reflex “ are my favorites and the disc’s best tracks. With the exception of “Lovebirds,” which is a snore, the remainder of this album is Hot Snakes, as you would expect it: blazing guitars and Froberg’s raspy and frenzied vocals. The biggest change is new drummer Mario Rubalcaba (RFTC) who takes over duties from Jason Kourkounis (ex-Delta 72)

When you get down to the bottom line, Audit in Progress will not disappoint the majority of Speedo’s Army; for the unenlisted, it’s going to be a fresh and exciting introduction to the band.

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