One new release flying under the radar this week is The Dex Romweber Duo’s LP, Is That You in the Blue?
Available on Bloodshot Records, the new record is another fine document in a series of releases from Dex Romweber (dating even back to his days with The Flat Duo Jets) dedicated to exploring classic American musical forms, namely country, blues, rockabilly, R& B, and surf. The opening cut, “Jungle Drums,” is typical Romweber, punk-fast rockabilly and his roaring vocals, while his sister Sara adds tremendous pace and energy with her drumming.
Dex Romweber Duo – Jungle Drums
“Wish You Would” nods in appreciation to Dex Romweber’s musical influences, a 1950s blues number written by Billy Boy Arnold and later popularized by The Yardbirds. The Romwebers also sear surf-style with “Gurdjieff Girl” and impress with a recording of their concert staple “Brazil.” There is also tremendous beauty in the record’s slower numbers, “Nowhere” and the title-track standing out among them.
Benefiting from the full-on revival of garage and minimalist rock, The Dex Romweber Duo formed in recent years after several solo efforts from Dex. He stopped recording and performing for several years after the split of The Flat Duo Jets in 1998, battling manic depression and other mental illness. With his sister Sara, Dex has since found new enthusiasm for recording, as captured in this release as well as 2009’s Ruins of Berlin, also available on Bloodshot.
Unfortunately, many rock fans fail to acknowledge Dex Romweber’s importance to the pantheon of rock music. Flat Duo Jets, along with groups like The Cramps, The Gories, and Thee Headcoats saved garage from being completely eclipsed (and perhaps forgotten) as the preferred underground form of rock music by punk. From the late 1970s into the 1990s, while crafting its own identity, punk rock slowly replaced many traditions in underground rock music, chiefly those preserved in Romweber’s music. The 2008 film, Two-Headed Cow, further explores Romweber’s and The Flat Duo Jet’s importance to rock history.
New Yorkers get another chance to see the legendary Dex Romweber and his sister Sara, as the duo visit National Underground on the Lower East Side August 27. The Romwebers have already rocked fantastic sets opening for The Detroit Cobras, Man or Astro-man?, and Wanda Jackson in New York City over the past couple of years. They also played the Bloodshot BBQ at The Bell House in Brooklyn in September 2009.