Puppy Jet only has time for an abbreviated, seven-song set, but that’s OK. Sing-shouting and shaking onstage, they play like they never heard anything louder than their own voices, and they seem like the sort of band for which a part of their music can stand in as a microcosm for the whole. That’s not necessarily a criticism, but if this power trio has anything in its discography beyond power-chords-and-attitude revival rock, they don’t hint at it tonight. Maybe they don’t need it. Puppy Jet is the kind of garage band (note we’re definitely not referring to the Mac app; PJ don’t even have sample tracks on their MySpace page) that could count both the 13th Floor Elevators and the Misfits as influences. Not that they necessarily do: You could just as easily say the Troggs and the Ramones or any number of other evolutionary paths that would lead to this inevitability. That fact alone makes Puppy Jet seem like a necessary part of the local rock-’n’-roll ecosystem. They haven’t forgotten how natural it can sound.
Guitarist Chris Lange’s yelp is the main attraction; the instrumentation mostly serves to egg him on while he rips through songs with titles like “I’m Your Man,” “Straight and Narrow,” “You Don’t Get It,” each as direct and precedented as its title suggests. Bassist Sean Leasure and drummer Rudy Abad don’t consider letting the beat drop for a second, and when they join Lange to scream in chorus as they do for the refrain of “Don’t Get It,” it doesn’t matter that it’s been done before.
Lange’s voice is comparable to the Hives’ Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s, though most likely not derivative of it (see the labored evolution metaphor, above), and Puppy Jet definitely projects that sort of aggressively unapologetic nostalgia for the days when amplifier feedback was the most dangerous game going. The guys in Puppy Jet don’t wear the matching suits, though, or give any other indication they’re in any way tonguing their cheeks. They take this rock-’n’-roll shit serious, and, watching them, you’ll want to, too. Afterwards, I won’t be able to determine which song was “Assassin,” and which was “Sugar and Spice,” but that’s less important than the fact that I enjoy them both while I’m listening to them.
Maybe Puppy Jet will continue growing and mutating into some more advanced form, help develop the genre, strengthen it, help it survive for another generation. Maybe they won’t. (Ironically, Lazy Cowgirls cover “Who You Callin’ a Slut” is the most promising pointer toward a slightly new direction — a little bit louder and a little bit meaner.) But since when are technical ability and originality the most important traits in rock musicians? If they were, the Rolling Stones would’ve starved to death years before “Satisfaction.” To put all of this another way: Puppy Jet would probably be better off if they came from Europe.
— Jeremy Martin
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