By: Eric G.
Acme is technically the seventh record from this New York City trio, but it wasn’t until 1993s Extra Width that the band perfected its caustic abrasiveness. The Blues Explosion sounds like Hasil Adkins setting fire to the Rolling Stones circa 1967. Jon Spencers macho rock n roll-will-never-die schtick fuels the bands boundless energy. Blues-based riffage blazes from the dueling guitars of Judah Bauer and Jon Spencer backed by Russell Simmons booming power behind the drums.
This band plays anything but the blues. Spencer is having too much fun to consider self-examination. The snarls and grunts are still there complete with random shouts of Blues Explosion!, but Spencer actually makes an effort to sing on several songs on Acme, revealing a slight peak beyond his carefully calculated stage persona. The songs also seem to adhere to traditional structures, which is a bit of a change from the rock-until-it-blisters blueprint of previous records. The Blues Explosion has also learned how to use dynamics to its advantage as on Magical Colors and Lovin Machine.
Steve Albini recorded half the album, and he gives those tracks a very loose feel with his bare bones approach and overwhelming emphasis on drums. Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and Dub Narcotic Sound System and Suz Dyer engineered the rest of the record, and those songs are much busier and textured with scratches and fuzz, so the balance is noticeable and effective.
Sex is still Spencers favorite subject second only to rock n roll, although, Acme is a fairly laid back record, especially when compared to the over-the-top experimentalism of Now I Got Worry. Acme is not an obvious record like Orange was. It takes a few listens to settle in, but its worth getting into. If Spencer seems restrained at times, its only because he’s got everything under control now.