I won’t pretend to know any more (though less is possible) than you, dear reader, about the status of the New York/New Jersey juggernauts known as the DC Snipers. Are they defunct, M.I.A. or simply lying in wait until the time is right once again to strike? Only time will tell—or not.
It’s been three years since we last heard from the band, with 2006’s Missile Sunset, a 27-minute blast that delivered the same visceral wallop of the live show on which the Snipers had made their reputation. In the intervening years, man of mystery Mike Sniper began his prolific output as the Blank Dogs and guitarist Dan McGee moved to North Carolina and got twangy and whiskey-soaked with the Spider Bags. As for what the other three Snipers have been up to, your guess is as good as mine.
The self-titled sophomore album has supposedly been stuck in the pipeline for a good deal of the interim, with “finishing touches” reported as being done at the beginning of 2008. The simply named record is simply packaged as well, with just the band’s name hand-screened on white sleeves. But looks can be deceiving and the lack of graphic embellishment or publicity hoopla in no way are indicative of the contents therein being anticlimactic. Quite the opposite instead. Here are 11 spitfire sliders (played at 45 rpm) that cross the plate from multiple angles. Leadoff cut “Reaction” is a lit powder keg of sinewy guitar lines and eviscerating lyrics (“Skin is starting to bleed. Push a girl down the escalator, leave a card at the scene”). Nothing else on the first side has the same punch as that initial credo, but “TBM” (“Talkin’ ’Bout Murder”) is a match in bloodlust, and the whiplashing of guitar and drums stutters ends the side in a suitable frenzy.
On the flip, “Eye of the Storm/Cutting You Up” sounds almost Fugazian in its double-vocal approach and emphasis on the groove underlying the guitar slashes. In general, the DC Snipers seem to take bits and pieces of their luminaries and send the particles colliding headlong, the end result being a spray of sharp-edged sounds. Here that seems best exemplified on “Meter Meet Her,” a double-timed boil of Ramones grift and Wire-d frequencies. The whole record makes good on whatever anticipation there might have been, but as to what the album means for the here and now and/or thereafter, just take it at face value: a potent slab of vinyl that simply needs to be heard.