Guerrero makes it a smooth ride

Tommy Guerrero
Junk Collector
Mowax Labels Ltd.

There are summer days when it’s just plain too early to throw the D but too beautiful not to sit on a sunny porch and let the day roll by. I think of the summer of 1991. I was 19, the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head had just come out and all I can recall of those several months is the stoop of the Slanty House on the west side of Buffalo, drinking 40s and thinking I might never get old. But it happened, and this afternoon I was jolted into recollection when I popped Junk Collector by Tommy Guerrero into the CD player. This record is the soundtrack for the best lazy summer days.

Guerrero plays nearly everything on this, and the recording is very simple and organic. In fact it is almost formulaic: lay down a very cool and bouncing drum beat then build over the top of it with a repetitive bass groove and guitars. Use samples to accent and keep everything moving. For as simple a formula as it is, it’s amazing how many bands manage to fuck it up. Guerrero does no such thing because not only does he allow everything to breathe, he also knows enough not to busy things up with a bunch of changes.

The first two songs come across like a lo-fi Meters jamming at the skatepark.

Track three begins to push the envelope a bit and the record starts to soar higher. It is another Guerrero composition but it is remixed with added keys by Chicago musician John Herndon. While the song is all Guerrero the mix is all Herndon and his Tortoise and 5ive Style roots splash all across the track. It is disjointed and abstract but also manages to stay true to its simple funk beginnings. The breakdown and the beats that carry the song pull the whole thing together. From there it is “Sea Sick”, an ominous sounding slow groove song that creeps across the stereo. The whole thing closes with another bouncing funk song, “Terra Unfirma,” which has a cool looped acoustic bass sample and a head bobbing “funky drummer” beat.

The record features great packaging, also. No jewel case – just a simple bright drawing on a well-printed cardstock sleeve – allowing the whole package to seem as innocent and care free as the fun grooves inside. In fact, the only disappointment is that this is only an EP, but you can always hit repeat on the CD player when you’re on the porch knocking back a couple.