Liquor Store - Yeah Buddy
(8/17/2016 UPDATE: Our mystery woman is indeed porn actress Vanessa Blue! Here's the picture that was used for the cover: NSFW link. So happy to see this five year old mystery solved.)
With the year now close to an end, I was listening to WFMU (a radio station) earlier this month on a Sunday morning when the DJ played "Jerkin It" by the indie New Jersey band Liquor Store. The song starts with a mix of feedback and a strummed chord or riff (can't tell), and it slowly transcends into a moody, slow riff being played over and over intertwined by a chant of "Jerk" done in a crescendo and.......the DJ changed the song as it wasn't appropriate for airplay. The song title alone was a bit of a red flag, but then she played "Oilin' Up My Boy" which sounds like it belonged in the same category as the former song. Those few minutes of "Jerkin' It" that made it on the air sounded great to my ears, so I did what any music geek would do and I bought the CD straight from their label Last Laugh Records (their "Almost Ready" subdivision).
I put on the CD and drifted away in my headphones into something as wacky as the Starland Ballroom. No, it's not bad at all. Liquor Store's Yeah Buddy is a fine record with a ton of high points and a few mishaps here and there, but the record sends out its message clearly - The band wants to rock out, hi-fi productions be damned. The lo-fi production is distorted enough in that's reminiscent of a garage band recording, but these men aren't new to the scene as web articles point out their existence since at least 2009 and Sarim the frontman has played for a few Jersey bands throughout the years. If anything, it's a silly artistic statement and it doesn't detract from the fun the record puts out.
This is a recording that's beyond the attention-grabbing cover or the picture of the band with Stern show regular Beetlejuice. The songs are punk in nature with some artistic parts that remind me of the strange beauty of X-ray Spex's use of the saxophone. The songwriting is top-notch with a catchy chorus here and there and some fun melodies as well. What caught my attention the most is that the band produced some fantastic moody intros. Like the already mentioned "Jerkin' It", intros to songs like "Showdown at Wookie Lake", the opener "Pumpin' With Red Rock", and also mentioned "Oilin' Up My Boy" have separate identities to the rest of their respective songs' bodies that it's sad to hear them go without a proper connection to the rest of the tracks. "Jerkin' It"'s intro doesn't even sound punk to me and I honestly feel that they could have done something ten times better with that intro alone.
There's a ton here to admire from Liquor Store, but "Banned from the Block" is horrible and Sarim has a nasal, whiny voice that, while not as challenging as Joe Strummer's hoarseness, is an acquired taste. Just by the cover alone those who are easily offended need not apply, and it's not easily available for cheap outside of the record label.
Yeah Buddy has catchy songs, a nasally vocalist, and parts that transcend the very genre that they play. Fun times for all.
Worth a Listen