Ruins of Berlin CD - Bloodshot

Dexter Romweber (late of the pioneering resurgent roots rock group Flat Duo Jets) has now teamed up with his sister, Sara (drummer of the much-missed jangly eighties power-pop outfit Let’s Active), to form the Dex Romweber Duo. Their debut recording, Ruins of Berlin, is everything you would expect from Dex: a slightly twisted update on roots rock that soils its own pool of genetically pure rock ‘n’ roll (on "Picture of You" Romweber goofs all Elvis as King Rockabilly on our asses). For those who know the work of Flat Duo Jets this will be fairly familiar territory. Romweber’s first band set a blueprint for updating guitar/drums roots racket. Sure, such duo combos are common as dirt since the ascendency of Jack and Meg White, but Romweber got to this parking spot first. On Ruins of Berlin, racy Link Wray-esque guitars smooch with twangy surf music (most satisfyingly on opener "Lookout" and "Cigarette Party"), and everything gets bolstered by some righteous sticks work from Sara. Still, this record is by no means a product of Flat Duo Jets 2.0. If no less skewed, proceedings are a bit more sedate. "Polish Work Song" fuses polka with a sinuous Eastern European jazz saxophone and a Middle Eastern guitar lead. "Grey Skies" is the demented clash of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Elmore James. And on closer "Is It Too Late?" Dex comes off all fifties country crooner-ish. Neko Case drops by to duet on "Still Around," turning in an uncharacteristically demure vocal. Other long-time fans give some surprise guest turns as well, including X’s Exene Cervenka and Cat Power.

By Michael Meade



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