"Dex Romweber was and is a huge influence on my music. I owned all of his records as a teenager, and was thrilled at the fact that we were able to play together recently on tour. [He is] is one of the best kept secrets of the rock n roll underground." -Jack White, White Stripes
For a quarter century, Dex Romweber has trolled the dark corners and back shelves of the haunted thrift store of Americana ephemera and honed an extraordinarily idiomatic sound, a particular and readily identifiable DEXness for those in the know. It's a creepy doll collection of surf, proto-rockabilly, garage, dark and vengeful blues, and nobody, but nobody, plays it like Dex. First with the legendary Flat Duo Jets and now with his Duo, Dex distilled the punk ethos of less-is-more to the essential guitar/drums template. Left in the wake of his lecherous and slithery Silvertone were early acolytes like Jack White, Neko Case, and the Reigning Sound as well as a current crop of the indie pack like Ty Segall, No Age, Japandroids, and The Black Keys. All owe an unclaimed pawn ticket of debt to his sublime and spine-tingling sound. He is a live wire back to the murky, sometimes dangerous and always unpredictable headwaters of real rock and roll.
Dex, with his whip-wristed sister Sara Romweber on drums, take Images 13 through neon-lit alleys, full of pulp fiction juvey rock, sci-fi theme songs and greasy denim hipster jive. Effortlessly versatile and raucously dismissive of genre constraints, exciting and darkly romantic, Images 13 would make everyone from Duane Eddy to Stan Kenton to Lenny Bruce crack a smile, a joke or the seal on a fifth of rye and head for the Naugahyde ice bucket.
Recorded at Rick Miller's (Southern Culture on the Skids) Kudzu Ranch studio in North Carolina, the album bristles with a sense of drama, of tension, of release, of mystery. "Roll On" and "Long Battle Coming" display the cinematic sleaze nestled between The Cramps and West Side Story. Eerie ballads "Baby I Know What It's Like to be Alone" and "I Don't Want to Listen" reveal the crooning, bruised romantic, the harsh morning light of a strange hotel room, a Raymond Chandler novel on the bedside table. "Beyond the Moonlight" is part sea shanty longing and part campfire revival. Then, just as easily, the instrumentals take center stage. "Blackout!" updates Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn theme with a dynamic tension and sly cool, and Dex and Sara attack the big waves off Maui with a chaotic rush on "Blue Surf" - his guitar guiding you into the sweet spot of the pipeline and her drums pounding you into the sand. Hey Tarantino, wake up!
Digging into the skeleton-filled rock 'n' roll closet, Dex Romweber Duo comes up with some obscure and wonderful gems. The early Who track "So Sad About Us," featuring Mary Huff (SCOTS) on vocals, hits an uncharacteristically sunny power pop vibe. The hopeful "We'll Be Together Again" written by Eddie Cochran's girlfriend Sharon Sheeley about his death in a car accident (that she and Gene Vincent survived). The song was never released formally but recorded by Jackie DeShannon in the early '60s. Finishing up the album is the music of Harry Lubin, who did theme music for shows like The Outer Limits and One Step Beyond. "Weird (Aurora Borealis)" is the music from the latter when ghosts, UFO's, or odd paranormal experiences begin to rear their strange heads, complete with tribal drums and Melissa Swingle (Trailer Bride, The Moaners) on the saw.
Flat Duo Jets - so often emulated, so rarely duplicated - released the first of nine albums in 1990 to rave reviews worldwide. They starred, alongside R.E.M. and The B-52s, in the 1987 cult classic film Athens, GA: Inside/Out. Their first national tour in 1990 was as opening act for The Cramps and they made a stunning impression on Late Night with David Letterman. Dex Romweber Duo's first record Ruins of Berlin featured guest appearances by Neko Case, Cat Power, and Exene Cervenka. Dex was name-checked by Jack White in the guitar superstar documentary It Might Get Loud, and the Duo recorded a single and live album with White for his label Third Man Records in 2009. Subsequently, the Duo has shared the stage with dozens of rock icons including Wanda Jackson, Cat Power, Neko Case, and The White Stripes. In 2012, the documentary about Dex's sometimes harrowing career Two Headed Cow was released.
1. Roll On
2. Long Battle Coming
3. Baby I Know What It's Like To Be Alone
4. So Sad About Us
5. Prelude in G Minor
7. I Don't Want To Listen
8. Beyond The Moonlight
9. We'll Be Together Again
10. Blue Surf
11. One Sided Love Affair
12. Weird (Aurora Borealis)