Album Review

Dexter Romweber - Chased By Martians

Dexter Romweber - Chased By Martians

Feeling patriotic but just not quite able to fly a flag on your car or praise Donald Rumsfeld? Well, my suggestion would be to find an old Lincoln or Caddy and cruise through your 'hood blasting some Dexter Romweber music. Seemingly possessed by rock 'n' roll, Dexter has been dishing out his unique brand of Americana for 16 years now -- rockabilly, blues and country, all reinvented by Dex's skewed sensibilities, perfect baritone voice and whacked-out surf guitar. On Chased By Martians, the irrepressible Dex further refines his alternately primitive yet at times elegant style. If it's new ground you want covered, Chased By Martians will not get it done for you. While what Romweber does is too far out there to be called a formula, he has his thing. Over the years, the former Flat Duo Jet has toned done the guitars a bit, sounding more Link Wray and less Thurston Moore, but he still can belt out the tunes, throwing in the occasional "Let's rock," "Let's get gone" or similar true red, white and blue exhortation. Mostly though, Romweber is a master interpreter, whether covering (as he does here) Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home", Eddie Cochran's "Guybo" and W.C. Handy's "Saint Louis Blues", or performing his own compositions. Dex's originals are more like interpretations, too. Sun Studios never seems far away, and some tunes ring vaguely familiar ("Du The Lurd!!" recalls "Tequila"). But Romweber gives it all a fresh feeling, virtually every moment reveling in the glory of American music. The only big misstep here is a reserved, countrified cover of the Who's "The Seeker", which demonstrates that Dex is better off standing firm on U.S. soil. My favorite all-time rock club graffiti survived multiple paint jobs of the men's room in Chapel Hill's venerable Cat's Cradle circa 1989-1992: "Dexter rules this town, albeit with a shaky hand." And, like the college kids on Tobacco Road, music trends come and go, while Dexter Romweber outlasts (and outrocks) them all.