IKE REILLY ASSASSINATION
Poison the Hit Parade
Rock Ridge Music
It's been seven years since Ike Reilly's Salesmen and Racists lit a fire under the passion of jaded rock 'n' roll critics across the country. The flatline of late-'90s bland-rock begged for mercy, and out of the suburban Illinois sticks came the snorting, pissed-off antidote. But a chorus in harmony of critical acclaim could do nothing to budge record sales, so for four more albums the Ike Reilly Assassination has labored for a devoted but anemic audience. And Poison the Hit Parade isn't likely to win the Assassination many new fans—not because it sucks, but because it's made up almost entirely of alternate versions of tunes from previous albums. The "new" arrangements and tweaked lyrics aren't so much a revelation as a low-fi re-imagining of the IRA canon, carefully aimed toward Reilly nerds: folks who own all the full-lengths, tracked down the online-only EP, and drunkenly sing every song in your ear at concerts.
Which isn't to say there's nothing here for everyone else. "Dragonflies" is one of the band's best new tracks in recent memory, as usual tackling a dark subject (the lies we tell to the dying) with both growling energy and genuine tenderness. The title track highlights Reilly's ability to conjure the mystical in the mundane by setting a tale of lust and conspiracy in the dust of a high school football game ("Gonna burn the field house down/Sabotage the homecoming game/Give the game ball back to the visiting team"). Though the new offerings are few, they're IRA at its finest, blending punk with roots rock and a poet's wordplay with a pop songwriter's knack for sing-a-long lyrics. If you're not an Assassinite already, Poison the Hit Parade probably isn't a good entree. But for even a casual fan it's a must-have.