Some of the world's greatest discoveries have come about by accident--the old "mold in the petri dish" school of invention. And so it goes in the music world. Would rock have evolved in exactly the same way if The Kinks' Dave Davies hadn't, in a moment of frustration, stuck knitting needles into the cone of his now famous "little green amp" to--as legend goes--"discover" distortion? Similarly, The Loners, the duo of Eddie Taylor (guitar) and Chris Jones (drums), had no master plan when they first plugged in at their closet-sized practice space other than to musically commiserate and conjure the spirits of garage bands past. Certainly not to make an album. As vets of the local alt-country/indie rock scene, both men had a taste of "the biz" and found it bitter. But in 2000, brought together by a shared love of "pure" rock and roll, the guys got itchy to play and worked up a set of covers--mostly '60s punk numbers--for their own enjoyment. Encouraged by gigging live (and the fact that they'd picked covers so obscure that the audience thought they'd written them), Taylor went ahead and wrote a batch of songs so catchy, so dead-on in their recreation of an era, that you're sure you're listening to some long-forgotten gem unearthed by one of those scholarly types who's gone way beyond the Nuggets and Pebbles compilations to pillage rarities from the genre's way out(er) limits.
Not embracing the necro-kitsch of The Cramps or jumping on the recent punk-blues duo bandwagon (The White Stripes, The Immortal Lee County Killers, et. al.), The Loners deliver 11 tracks of snarling, all-American rock 'n' roll. Although there are two covers by Texas '60s groups (The Hangmen, who wore nooses for neckties, and The Aztex), originals like "Teenage Rebel" and "Rockin' to the Grave" are the kind of songs that sear themselves into your brain pan after one listening. There's even a pop number, "Psycho Girl," that's catchy without being cloying. Recorded on borrowed equipment in two lightning quick sessions, these tapes were delivered from obscurity by new local label Mouthful of Bees.
Lucky accident? Not a chance. The Loners and The Dynamite Brothers play this Sunday, July 14, at The Basement in Durham.