“Me and my brother Jarrett write all the songs,” says Brandon Barger, the 28-year-old guitar hero for Houston sleazerockers Killer Hearts, whose debut album Skintight Electric for Spaghetty Town Records is hopefully damaging your speakers as you read this. “We’re not really trying to write punk songs exactly. Not that I have anything against that. We’re just writing about Bayou City, where we live – it’s tough, mean, dirty, like the Dead Boys.”
Barger’s passed through a number of Houston’s finest punk outfits in his few years on Earth. Among the bands he’s elevated with his blazing fretwork are The Wrong Ones (with fellow Killer Hearts Jarrett Barger and Cory Parker on drums; bassist Gil Lira, who initiated the idea of the band with Brandon in 2015, rounds them out), The Cops, and The Guillotines. He’s currently moonlighting in Houston metallurgists Night Cobra. But The Killer Hearts is the one band of his that truly shines. This is his baby.
Skintight Electric contains 10 sticks of riffrock dynamite with middle-finger drive. You can smell the dirty stretch jeans and nicotine, and taste the bourbon and runny eyeliner that oozes from these filthy grooves. Producer Don “Demon Boy” Cilurso, former guitarist with Texas Terri and the Stiff Ones, imbues Skintight Electric with the meticulous sonics and attention to detail that perfectly captures that vintage-Aerosmith-makes-a-punk-record vibe The Killer Hearts ooze.
If you want to understand what drives this band’s unique mix of ’70s arena rock dynamics with late ’70s punk energy and economy, just ask Brandon Barger about his guitar ethic, which makes him one of the best guitarists in the American underground right now.
“I grew up on punk,” he explains. “So I went through the punk thing, then I got into glam rock as a guitar player. I also got into classic heavy metal a bit. I think that’s what made whatever sound that I have. I wanna be Johnny Thunders, but I also wanna be Fast Eddie Clarke from Motorhead! I wanna be flash, I wanna be sassy, but I also wanna rip!”
Flashy, sassy, ripping – yeah, that’s The Killer Hearts alright….
Economy, raw power, and an intuitive understanding of what each song requires – you can’t teach those qualities. They’re instinctual. And The Killer Hearts have those qualities in spades. They help differentiate Skintight Electric‘s six new recordings from the four highlights from previous singles and EPs – “24-7 Action,” “Buried In Leather,” plus two from their recent Spaghetty Town EP, “Do Your Thing” and “Midnight Lucifer.”
“We really piled on the bells-and-whistles, the extra instrumentation – piano, tambourine, shakers, female vocals, handclaps, everything we could think of,” Barger enthuses. “If we’re gonna do a full-length, we should make it the best we can. It took us awhile.” It brings to mind all the percussive hooks Jimmy Miller piled upon the classic Rolling Stones records he produced, or even the subtle rhythmic undertow soccer hooligan glamsters Giuda adore.
In short, Skintight Electric is exactly the sorta pissed-off amphetamine r&b with blitzkrieg guitar heroics and a lonesome polecat singer that would’ve had Creem magazine salivating in 1973 or 1977. But The Killer Hearts are here and now, with 10 anthems that could fuel a new revolution. Come join the cause now.
Alternative Press magazine
Spaghetty Town Records is thrilled that “Skintight Electric” is finally seeing it’s release date. Originally slated for summer 2020, Covid-19 put the kibosh on that. You’ll find “Skintight Electric” available on limited edition red vinyl, as well as black vinyl, and on all major download/streaming outlets. Available in Europe from Dragstrip Riot Records.