The drunken heavy rock charm of Canyon Creep‘s 2001 full-length, Hijack the World, makes itself known almost immediately on the aptly-titled intro, “Intro.” Starting off with some dramatic sampled horns that may or may not have been recorded from a tv and may or may not have come from Flash Gordon, a voiceover soon comes on to set the stage:
“Once upon a time
in a land called suburbia
There lived a noble breed of men
Men who spent their lives on a never-ending quest
For honor, glory… and fine chicks.”
So it goes, and “No Brakes” picks up as the first chapter of that quest — rife with unpretentious, ballsy riffing and a not-in-the-slightest serious mood. I managed to nab a copy of Hijack the World on the cheap thanks to All That is Heavy‘s ongoing series of $6.66 killer deals — along with records by Rite, Bongripper, Tweak Bird, Wellwater Conspiracy, Monkey3, Jason Simon, and so on — and with production by Billy Anderson and art by Italian collective Malleus in their early days, felt lucky to do so.
It tops 28 minutes and I suspect if it was going to change the planet it probably would’ve done so at some point in the last 12 years, but the San Francisco trio’s first and only studio outing tapped into a heavy riffing dudery that’s still prevalent today, guitarist/vocalist Tony Buhagiar keeping to a throaty delivery offset by some of the corresponding backing vocals of bassist Dave V. (who takes a lead spot on “Can’t Afford You”) and drummer Jerry Rivera. Songs are by and large short and straightforward, the longest being six-track and highlight “Black Bra” at 4:59, but extras like the gang shouts at the beginning of “I Got the Shakes” and the (surprisingly righteous) bluesy guitar interlude “Warm Beer” add to the no-frills appeal already present in the Northern California ode “Yreka,” which shows some of its date in lyrics bitching about guys in baggy pants, but winds up on the winning side of the argument anyway.
But the high point of the record is “Black Bra,” the unabashed dudeliness of which stands as symbolic of an era when “not being PC” meant more than an excuse for white people to post racist shit on Facebook. They’re doing it in the name of comedy, but there’s a narrative at work anyway and the cleverness of lines like, “Got stuck with a bad borracho/Started talkin’ shit and tryin’ to act all macho/He grabbed your ass and you decked el gacho/With a brick and I would’ve loved to watch you, yeah,” underscoring not only stoner rock’s ongoing penchant for interspersing Spanish lyrics (always fun), but a divide where charm and a familiar misogyny part ways. They’re on the right side of that argument too, and the brick has a lot to do with it, but more relevant, the song rocks and sets up the ending “Can’t Afford You,” “Yreka” and “Give Me Some,” all three of which are about scoring, on some level.
Canyon Creep can get filed maybe not under lost classics, but under decent records worth a look for those like me who may have missed them when they first came out. Another 10 or 15 years and all this stuff will get reissued by somebody or other. Buhagiar and Rivera play together in Tuco Ramirez, and at least according to the Canyon Creep Thee Facebooks, there’s a second Canyon Creep album being worked on that never came to fruition during the band’s first run, which ended in 2002 after Hijack the World came out. Whether or not it ever comes together, the debut may be a blip on history’s radar, but it’s a blip with some cool riffing and beery grooves, and that’s enough for me to dig it.