"Moody, Standard and Poor." Obits. Whether it was screaming his lungs out with post-hard-core innovators Drive Like Jehu or projecting venom with ferocious garage rockers Hot Snakes, Rick Froberg has remained refreshingly constant: He's ticked off.
Next to Steve Albini and those dudes from Converge, nobody does cranky better than Mr. Froberg.
He hates your town, he hates your friends, and he hates your kids. He hates it all so much he blew out his voice, and likely his eardrums, over the years fronting his highly regarded aforementioned acts.
Since moving from his native San Diego to Brooklyn around the time of Hot Snakes' highly acclaimed and too-brief run, Froberg has settled into his new crew of conspirators, the aptly monikered Obits.
With Obits, Froberg doesn't holler quite as loud as he used to, and the band doesn't play like it intends to tear the place apart piece by piece.
Instead, Froberg has found a new and measured way to get in his digs that doesn't require ripping his voice box to shreds.
On the band's mostly solid 2009 debut, "I Blame You," Froberg found a perfect sparring partner in fellow guitarist and sometime-vocalist Sohrab Habibion, late of DC post-punk outfit Edsel. Utilizing sharp tones and riffs taken right from the Nuggets' garage-rock playbook, the two players bounced ace lines off one another like well-placed hooks and jabs. While the interplay between all members involved was great, the actual tunes seemed to lack something in the songwriting department.
Froberg was still his cantankerous (if somewhat tempered) self, but the songs often seemed like afterthoughts from an inspired jam session. The band's follow-up, "Moody, Standard and Poor," has some truly thrilling moments packed into its short running time. The lead track, "You Gotta Lose," holds up with some of the band's best stuff, providing jagged and swerving guitars that lock around Froberg's poisoned vocals.
"No Fly List" hurtles an impressive litany of schoolyard taunts into a jittery mix of proto-punk swagger and surf-rock twang, and the slow-burn buildup of "Shift Operator" finds Habibion stepping up to the vocal plate.
Like its predecessor, "Moody Standard and Poor" has a few tracks that feel superfluous, most notably the limp "Naked to the World" and the-should-have-been-a-B-Side "Spot the Pikey."
The band has yet to work out all of the bugs in the songwriting department, which, at two albums in, is a little frustrating. But most of this stuff just cooks, proving that Froberg has found another worthy platform for his brand of mockery and outright disgust.
Obits might not break any of the new ground that Jehu did, or make anyone miss Hot Snakes any less, but fans who prefer their guitar rock on the caustic side should find this new offering more than satisfying.