In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in commemoration of Neil Young’s new and novel record, we’ve selected our favorite lo-fi cuts.
You don’t have to be The Monkees to have your own theme song. Hell, you can just swipe the title of The Monkees’ theme song, “Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees,” and build your own song around it—as long as you have the chutzpah of The Gories. Comprising singer-guitarists Mick Collins and Dan Kroha and drummer Peggy O’Neill, the legendary, Detroit-based garage-rock group opened its sophomore album, 1990’s I Know You Fine, But How You Doin’, with a bold statement of identity. Also, a sloppy one. “Hey, Hey, We’re The Gories” is the epitome of lo-fi garage revivalism (just ask superfan Jack White, who’s often cited The Gories as a major influence on The White Stripes), unleashed at a time when many retro-’60s bands sounded pristine and professional. There’s no mistaking “We’re The Gories” for anything but sublimely inspired amateurism—a virtue the band would be the first to proudly own.
That said, The Gories’ theme is as every inch as good as The Monkees’ better-known one. Pounding, primordial, and packed with trash-talking taunts (“We are coming to your town / We’re gonna mess your head around”), it’s the perfect mix of underdog howls and punk-rock swagger. Most of the members of The Gories have gone on to great things, most notably Kroha’s Demolition Doll Rods and Collins’ The Dirtbombs, and the trio even reconvened for a couple of reunion tours in 2009 and ’10. But its legacy lies mostly in its records—with “We’re The Gories” being one of the prime examples of how forward-thinking the group’s backward-thinking primitivism was. If only The Gories had managed to score its own TV show. Then again, it’s never too late.