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Endless Boogie - Focus Level

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Artist: Endless Boogie

Album: Focus Level

Label: No Quarter

Review date: Jun. 17, 2008

Throughout the few years that they’ve been “active,” New York’s Endless Boogie haven’t cultivated anonymity so much as their own apparent indifference. A quartet comprised of a few members of the psych rock record collectors’ cognoscenti (including the rather well-known Paul Major), these guys managed only a handful of shows over the first few calendar cycles of their existence before unloading a couple of extremely limited, practice room-quality recordings, the LPs of which pretty much only turn up for relatively large sums in auction now.

Leading up to the long-anticipated release of their first widely available full-length, all of this seems like nothing more than basic marketing – cut supply, watch demand increase. But after a few spins through Focus Level, a 79-minute behemoth of mid-tempo choogle, stoned rants, and more beer can raising leads than you can shake a confederate flag at, it becomes pretty obvious that the coy approach isn’t nearly as calculated as one might think.

Steeped in everything from Tres Hombres-quality ZZ Top to early Beefheart (with a hint of Canned Heat tossed in for good measure), Focus Level is one of those rare records that gets its kicks out of presenting absolutely nothing new, instead taking the scenic route through a few crates of dusty old records that your dad and his friends probably got wasted to when they were young. If the thought of a band of oldsters picking their way through the jams of yore sounds like a bummer, then it’s probably best to skip tracks like “Executive Focus.” Those game enough, however, will probably get a kick out of the track’s dueling leads as they interlock and work towards a climax of gritty six-string barroom grandeur.

Elsewhere, Majors uses the chunky riffing of the excellently titled “Steak Rock” to drop some completely unintelligible science, while the comparatively meth-driven “Coming Down the Stairs” quickens the pace just enough to allow for the Boogie’s engine to be upgraded from a rhythmic chug to a full-on purr. Reveling again in a confident twin-guitar attack, the band’s grasp of acceleration sets the stage nicely for “Jammin’ with Top Dollar,” an extended pull from a mason jar of southern-fried, backwoods guitar firewater with a rhythm that almost reaches the zen-like Kraut-zone of repetition.

Taking their name from a John Lee Hooker album, Endless Boogie has never once deviated from their initial impetus. And really, why should they? This band is not one that exists to cultivate careers or move units, but rather to allow four fast-approaching-middle-aged dudes an opportunity to blow off some steam and flash a few chops while paying homage to records whose grooves they’ve undoubtedly worn out many times over. Sure, Focus Level is probably overlong, with extended jam sessions that undoubtedly drag in points. That’s precisely the point, however, and one that you can take or leave at your own discretion.

By Michael Crumsho

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