Just like it’s hard to imagine them ever ending, it’s hard to imagine Endless Boogie ever beginning. It’s hard to imagine Endless Boogie not existing. They just seem to have always…been.
That’s not how it really is, of course. Endless Boogie did, in fact, start way back in the late ‘90s, as a chance for some employees of Matador Records to jam. And it took a while for them to get the thing off the ground, with only occasional shows and no recorded material to speak of until the mid-2000s. But they’ve made up for lost time in the ‘10s, releasing a slew of full-lengths over the past half-dozen years. The latest, Vibe Killer, further entrenches Endless Boogie as the band that time forgot.
The formula is pretty simple: Take grimy electric blues licks, stretch ‘em across some relentlessly steady rhythms and play in perpetuity. A couple chords are enough; one is even better. Make room for frontman Paul Major’s meandering growl and a few greasy guitar solos and you’re there. Riff, rinse, repeat.
Endless Boogie has been described as “stubborn,” and that’s fair. On Vibe Killer, though, the band pulls back just a bit from the 79-plus-minute run times of some of its previous albums. The total here is well under 70 minutes, with only one track—the particularly lethargic “Jefferson County”—stretching beyond the nine minute mark.
Otherwise, Endless Boogie keeps things fairly tight on songs like “Let It Be Unknown,” which blossoms from a tangle of fuzzy wah-wah guitars into a pulsating drone as Major sneers “Gimme a nickel and I’ll show you Don Rickles.” Later, “Bishops at Large” finds the band vamping on one chord over a stuttering dance-rock beat. Just as they pick up momentum, however, they pivot into a Southern rock riff. With this band, whiplash happens at 5 mph.
Elsewhere, the title track hovers on one melodic idea for more than eight minutes as Major sings of deterioration, humiliation and expiration. “High Drag, Hard Doin’” is a bluesy Stones jam slathered in psychedelic gutter-gunk. And “Back in ‘74” is probably the highlight here, thanks to its agile groove and some welcome lucidity from Major, who recounts a story about seeing KISS at a radio-sponsored kite festival in St. Louis back in the day. The guy’s normal croak is cool and all, but it is nice to hear him in a stronger, clearer voice.
He’s back to his old self, though, on “Whilom,” a song that seems to fade into existence and then slither undetected out the back door and down into the sewers, where it will live, happily, forever. Just like Endless Boogie.