Local Wire

Fu Manchu @ Pub Rock

You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but fuggit, man — you can go ahead and judge Fu Manchu by its album covers. It's all there: launching dune buggies, UFOs, shredding skateboarders, babes in bikinis, hot rods, vans. It's not rocket science; it's simply Southern California rock 'n' roll. It's been a while since these riffers have put out anything new, but that hasn't stopped a flood of reissues — stretching as far back as the band's pre-Fu incarnation, the hardcore punk band Virulence — from cementing the band's pedigree as a heavy rock staple. The band's last record, 2009's Signs of Infinite Power, is as stoned and confident as their debut, 1994's No One Rides for Free, with cranked rockers like "Gargantuan March" and "Webfoot Witch Hat" finding all feet firmly on the fuzz pedals. Being a "stoner rock" band might seem a little confining — it's a firm stylistic mold, to be sure — but the Fu doesn't seem to mind, passionately thumbing its nose at trends, doing its own thing, and having the stones necessary to emblazon their records with such precise imagery.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.