Joyride rock ‘n’ roll

It’s not often that a garage band can upgrade its studio sound and still maintain the grittiness that makes it a garage band.

Then again, to call Electric Eel Shock a garage band is like calling the Flaming Lips an alternative rock band — not entirely precise.

Beneath the usual, apparant garage rock references — Stooges, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant — is a Led Zeppelin/Black Sabbath tribute band wanting to burst out.

The song titles on the Japanese trio’s latest album, Go America!, are indicative enough: “Do the Metal”, “I Wanna Be a Black Sabbath Guy But I Should Be Black Bass”.

On the former, vocalist/guitarist Morimoto Akihito delivers the kind of solo that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Loudness album. On the latter, he sings like a young Robert Plant.

Those dashes of metal do a lot to loosen up garage rock’s creative limitations, and thankfully, Electric Eel Shock’s songs don’t feel at all derivative. (Even though your ears tell you they should.)

Tracks such as “S.O.S.”, “Speedy Joe”, “Nothing” and “Rock N’ Roll Can Rescue the World” feel familiar but could never be mistaken for, say, the Flamin’ Groovies.

Compared to the lo-fi sludge of 2001’s Slayer’s Bay Blues, Go America! sounds pristine. And yet, the slicker engineering does nothing to dull Electric Eel Shock’s ear-splitting live energy.

This recording rocks as hard as the guys do on stage.

Clocking in at a brisk 34 minutes, Go America! doesn’t mess around. Electric Eel Shock delivers one punch after the next on an album that epitomizes rock ‘n’ roll at its simplest and fiercest.