Ah, the hatchet piece, the post modern Carducci, Meltzer, bmarkey blast I know I’m completely capable of is here in Valdosta, GA where I’ve journeyed to discover just what in the hell is a Ninja Gun where you’ll find “Johnny Cash meets T. Rex” slogan t-shirts in the Salvation Army store soon. Not since the halcyon days of Donnie and Marie has there been a group of individuals this “just a little bit country” and “just a little bit rock and roll” as are the guys in Ninja Gun. Who can I blame for this? Is it the alternative country movement as spearheaded by Uncle Tupelo’s ascendancy to demi-god status or just a product of Ninja Gun being from the South? Ninja Gun’s tunes can’t even rise to wearing cowboy boots in a mosh pit. The rock doesn’t rock and the country might be better if they would just get drunk. At least the Osmonds had “Crazy Horses” in their repertoire, a song even Led Zeppelin would be hard pressed to match.
Ninja Gun are hot shee-it in Valdosta where folks must get all of their exposure to music through MTV and the mall and there’s a whole country of eager types probably foaming at the mouth for miniature ninjas fired from a gun. They’ll delight to the angst of lead singer, guitar player, and songwriter Jonathan Coody lamenting that he’s 25 years old and not making a “smooth transition” to adulthood. They’ll find the “Barbara Ann” snippet at the beginning of “Jessie (She’s Only Gonna’ Dance With Me)” hysterical, instead of terrible. “Picture Of A Boy In His Prime” will be hailed as genius, instead of puerile crap lyrically and musically. The countrified tracks on Smooth Transitions will be taken as nods to Ninja Gun’s Southern roots, instead of schizophrenia. I live some 70 miles from Nashville and there are half-wit meth abusers with more country music chops than these young lads. It all sounds so half assed they’d get the screen door slammed in their faces if they came around trying to play around here.
To Ninja Gun’s credit they probably will try. I spent a few years playing in a garage band and the biggest failure there was we never really tried to make it big. Rock and roll is full of lousy bands that made it big through sheer perseverance. How else do we explain bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, or Triumph to name but a few? If you tour enough that you become ubiquitous a hit record is bound to come no matter the quality. I just hope Ninja Gun can come up with something a shade better if and when it happens than the noise pollution they are currently peddling. Greatness can come from mediocrity – just witness how Dr. Dre survived being a part of the LA Dream Team. For now, just get me out of Valdosta on the first bus so I can get back home to my Osmonds records.
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