When the needle on a VU meter sweeps into the red it means whatever is being recorded as pushed beyond the normal limits. "We feel." said lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Rick Shaffer, "that what we do is totally in the red." Their debut album, produced by David Kershenbaum (Joe Jackson, Tarney Spencer), utterly corroborates Shaffer. "The Reds" is a ferocious attack, total and relentless. Its textures are dense with an electronic chaos brought to the edge of madness, and then resolved into piercing clarity. This is not an album for the soft or heart, or head.
"My strings were real tight before I went into this," said Shaffer. "Then I said just fuck everything, I'm gonna write the songs and play them just as I want to. I cut my strings." The vision on the album is shattered and venomous, ("It's the real world to me," Shaffer says.) and the music soars and churns with the free fall energy of a disintegrating space station. The band has perfected its fierce cohesiveness: Jim Peters and Tommy Geddes' rhythm section provides a raging foundation for the interplay of Shaffer's bull whip guitar, and Bruce Cohen's swirling keyboards. Although the music of The Reds® dances on the leading edge of the musical revolution called The New Wave, it oddly echoes the manic, experimental energy that pulsed in the concert halls of the late and mid-sixties. The Reds® would not have been musically out of place on a midnight bill with The Doors or The Velvet Underground. There is a purity about this band's utter commitment to their music that gives it an undeniable ring of truth.
Listen with clenched fists. The Reds®. Apocalyptic rock and roll.