Press for Creepy Little Noises:


Pop Matters, 12/02

    I Can Lick Any SOB in the House? Who on Earth would proudly carry such an ostentatious -- some might say, repellant -- moniker? A bunch on juvenile wannabes? A novelty act, perhaps? If not, then who? The guilty party is one Mike Damron, who with his brawny backing band has created one of the most intelligent and compelling country-rock albums this reviewer has ever had the pleasure of smashing stuff to. Damron aches his way through 10 songs of unadulterated ramblings, effortlessly fitting the swamp-country mould with its honesty and realism. Damron has no qualms exposing his frailties ("Swing Man Swing"), misdirected affections ("Creepy Little Noises" and "Walk Across Texas") and tragic childhood ("Hey Big Man" and "Saturday"), and doing so with such a well worn, beaten-by-life baritone adds an affecting charm to his songs. The album is often hard to listen to with the singer bleeding into every song his passionate personality. He comes across as somewhat of a beer-stained messiah, entirely upfront and unafraid to comment on life, love and social and political injustice, easily leading his audience to believe he could very well "lick" just about anyone he comes across, on or off stage, SOB or not. Powerful and resonant, smart and satisfying, this ain't no novelty act.
    -- Nikki Tranter

BACKFIRE Dec. 02 – Feb. 03

    Ever since the Replacements’ 1991 demise, hundreds of bands have tried their luck—with varying degrees of success—in carrying the Minneapolis legends’ punk-meets-Americana torch. I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House, a Portland, Ore.-based outfit, has quite possibly done the best job to date in re-creating the Mats’ recipe of fire and angst with their new CD, Creepy Little Noises. Borrowing their moniker from bare-knuckle boxer John L. Sullivan’s biography, I Can Lick (there, I’ve shortened it), fronted by raspy voiced Mike Damron, mix it up just enough to avoid a “rip-off” label—the band occasionally sidesteps the middle-men Replacements and jingle-jangle their way straight through Gram Parsons-inspired Stones territory (“Whose to Blame,” “Walk Across Texas”). However, Damron’s gritty, demon-exorcising tales of a troubled, lonely childhood—the amazing “Saturday” and “Hey Big Man”—are pure Westerberg, and the suicide ode-title track could have easily been written for Tim or Let It Be. Imitation is often an irritating form of flattery, but this disc is so lyrically and musically mesmerizing the I Can Lick’s influences are soon overshadowed by their talent. Damron’s two-pack-a-day delivery might urge the listener to send the man some Luden’s, but you get used to it after the first couple of listens of this riveting record. (Steve Sav)

High Bias, 12/02

    The problem with most roots rock artists is that they're too polite. Constrained by fan expectations and their own deep respect for American music traditions, too many roots rockers treat country, blues and rockabilly as sacrosanct forms not to be futzed around with or applied to anything but reserved emotional states. Even songs about killers make the villains out to be sedate and possessing the finest manners.
    Fortunately, not all roots rockers forget the art of being rude. For instance, the awkwardly but appropriately monikered I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House sounds like it crawled out of the bar with an arm in its teeth and a knife in its back on Creepy Little Noises. Frontperson Mike D. sings in a voice so grizzled even his larynx must have tattoos on it, and his country rockin' songs leave nothing to the emotional imagination, whether he's dealing with anger, fear, despair or something more tender. "The barrel tastes good in his mouth," he raspily croons in the title track, "He's gonna go out like he came in/All alone." Not much false sentiment here; even the more whimsical material like "Saturday," which celebrates the titular day of play while noting "Mama, you won't hit me again," has a dark edge. For all the crazed energy permeating the record, there's a sense of craft here; "Graveyard Song," "Walk Across Texas" and "Swing Man Swing" display a strong sense of melody and a close attention to grimy detail that belies the spontaneity of the performances. Creepy Little Noises sounds like the raging drunk at the end of the bar, but that drunk has the soul of a poet.
Michael Toland

Oregonian, 11/22/02

'Creepy Little Noises' album is gritty soundtrack to pained life
    While "Creepy Little Noises" is the full-length debut CD release from Portland band I Can Lick Any S.O.B. in the House, it also seems an important release of another kind for frontman Mike Damron.
    Exploring his inner demons, Damron reflects openly on his personal life and the world as he sees it, resulting in an album that is more heart-wrenching and moving than its title might imply.
    Which is not to take away from his Portland band's rock 'n' roll factor. The group's certainly got the energy found only in the devil's music. Bent by a muddy country-western influence, the quintet has down-home, back-porch flavor, too. It's just that listening to "Creepy Little Noises," you also get depth and a small peek into the main man behind the music. The meeting of fervent musicians and honest subject matter yields story-backed sounds that are powerful and likable.
    The band members -- singer-guitarist Damron, guitarist-keyboard player-producer Jon Burbank, bassist Dewey Revelle, harmonica player David Lipkind and drummer Flapjack Texas -- invent a sound that can stomp and strut, coo and confess, growl and hiss all at once. While dishing out colorful variety, I Can Lick Any S.O.B. in the House paints a rumbling soundscape of sunsets and tumbleweeds.
    Like a letter to his father or a journal entry just to vent the pain, Damron's "Hey Big Man" is a touching acoustic track that has no reservations about conceding his personal hardships. His Steve Earle-like singing is low and gravely, revealing his struggles within: "Hey big man/Did you ever give a damn about me?/I did not understand, you see/Why'd you wanna hurt me."
    Also reflecting on childhood is the jangly jump-around of "Saturday," which contains a more upbeat remembrance, perhaps about an escape from his own home and from a mother who was no more nurturing than the father: "Mama oh mama/Now where have you been?/Down at the Tahiti lounge/Just drinking again."
    Here's to the willingness to let it all out, and the courage to do so. (JENNY TATONE), 10/02

    Portland kicks ass, okay? I mean, we have the world's most dysfunctional NBA team, the country's nicest transportation system, lots of beautiful parks for the runaway kids to squat in, lots of seedy heroin dives, and a Chinese food restaurant called Hung Far Low. Or at least we did when I grew up there. I last lived there 16 years ago. I live in Wisconsin now, and I miss the PDX.
    Especially when there are kick-ass acts like I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House still there. This debut record from ICLASOBITCH is pretty much all the work of one guy, the very very confident Mike Damron. This guy is working all sides of the street: bluesy roots-rock ("Graveyard Song"), dragged-up-from-the-depths personal pop-rock that sounds like bonus tracks left off Let It Be by the 'Placemats ("Swing Man Swing"), and death ballads (the title track). And that's just the first four songs!
    Look: Damron is a huge huge talent. His songwriting says a little too much -- does he really need to describe himself mouldering in the grave? Does he really need to call a track "Fear'd" and then sing about how he ain't a-feared? -- but hey, it's a first album, cut my homey a break. And his punky whiskey-flavored soulful voice and John Mellencamp-esque chord changes (and that is SO not an insult in any way... Mellencamp's chord structures are amazing) sell every single song.
    But even if the rest of the album -- which includes love songs and cheatin' songs too -- wasn't so great, two songs would completely justify you getting this record NOW. They are both focused on the physical abuse of children, but they couldn't be more different. The first one is "Saturday," an outwardly jovial burner about a nine-year-old who hangs with his grandparents having fun that day every week: Captain Crunch, baseball on TV, plastic army men, watching The Cars on Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, the whole nine yards. Only after you listen to it a couple of times do you hear the lines dealing with WHY he's so happy to be there: "Close my eyes, count three, and pray / Mama you ain't gonna hit me again." Whiplash!
    And the closer is a chill-inducing indictment called "Big Man." In this piece, Mike D.'s narrator calls out a father for being a big huge asshole to his five-year-old self: "And I will survive you / Hallelujah! / And I will love bigger than you / And I won't do all the bullshit you did do" (and here the pauses are crucial) "I will not be a big man / I will not be a big man / Like you!" Yeah, brother, testify! I'm right there with ya. To hell with that old bastard, he wasn't shit, you're a better man, keep on walking and hold your head up. Wow I love that song.
    It's a good album. A little short, and a little too calculated in places, but I Can Lick... is gonna be huge real soon., 10/21/02

    I Can Like Any Son of a bitch In The House (hereforth known simply as Sonofabitch) is a Portland Oregon based band led by Mike Damron. He took the title of his band from the the biography of boxer John L. Sullivan, and he also leads the album off with a track called "John L. Sullivan". Sonofabitch is a noisy affair that takes cues from rock-a-billy as well as country, while keeping one foot in the blues. Mike's vocals are very gruff and the lyrics are rough around the edges. Think Keith Richards and you sort of have the voice down, and if Keith sang a more folky style then he would be just like Mike. They could also be compared to Social Distortion but not as much punk. There are some fairly mellow tracks on the album like the title track and "Swing Man Swing" and they are along the lines of a Steve Earle tune. Creepy Little Noises is actually a very impressive debut album that should appeal to folk, blues, rock-a-billy and country crowds alike.

OREGONIAN, 04/05/02

Raucous roadhouse band makes 'Creepy' sound OK
    Somewhere, well beyond the tracks that signal the wrong side of town, there is a ramshackle roadhouse bar. Some might even call it a honky-tonk. The windows are all boarded up and it's in dire need of paint. Inside, you can barely see the worn wooden floor through the carpet of peanut shells and cigarette butts. The bartender is the sheriff's cousin. For everyone's protection, beer is served only in plastic cups. This is the kind of place that I Can Lick Any SOB in the House would play every night, and the crowd of crusty cousins would whoop it up right along with the band.
    I Can Lick, as the economic and the in-the-know call this Portland quintet, has been causing a stir around town for its incendiary, tear-the-house-down live shows. With the release of "Creepy Little Noises," the boys in the band can tear down your house, as well.
    Some bands have detectable influences, while others try to hide their musical history. I Can Lick has clear influences and relishes shoving them in your face. The Gun Club can be heard here, Mojo Nixon on expired cough medicine can be heard there, a guitar section gets stolen shamelessly from Led Zeppelin, and throughout the CD's 11 tracks can be heard a whole lot of "Let It Bleed"-era Rolling Stones.
    Ringleader Mike D. introduces the set with an insane a cappella hog-holler before the music proper kicks in, though nothing's proper about the racket he makes with his partners in slime, Jon Burbank (guitar, keyboards), Dewey Revelle (bass), David Lipkind (harmonica) and one Flapjack Texas (drums).
    These "Creepy Little Noises" run the range from the chugging desert swagger of "Graveyard Song" through the downbeat and boozy '70s pop vibe of "Swing Man Swing." While Mike D.'s raucous rasp clearly is at the center of every song, several of Lipkind's wailing harmonica solos step up to nearly steal the show, and the rest of the band forms the ideal bridge between the two primal forces.
    From the sound of things, I Can Lick Any SOB in the House can do just that. But at least the pummeling is delightfully demented, fueled as it is by furious fun.

OREGONIAN, 3/29/02

    The Portland country-rock band's debut CD "Creepy Little Noises" is distinguished by some nifty arrangements and sonic touches, but most of all by singer Mike D., who sounds like a cross between Mick Jagger and an extremely nervous Ronnie Van Zandt..

MERCURY, 3/28/02

    Is there such a genre in music as "redneck western"? Icanlickanysonofabitchinthehouse's name says it all: A squawking and undisciplined harmonica, the same forceful bass line of Rev. Horton Heat, and determined lyrics about graveyards and rattlesnake bites. More redneck than country-western, there is not much that is melodious about Mike D's voice--raspy and scratchy. But then again, there is not much that is melodious or glad-handing about kicking a sonofabitch's ass. The band's louder songs grab the anger and chaos of a barroom brawl by the short hairs, but what sets them apart are their softer songs, shuffling ditties that sound like a lamenting good-for-nothing, slopping his worries into the bottom of a glass. Hard-hitting barroom music: just my style. PHIL DOT BUSSE

Willamette Week, 3/27/02

    "I've tasted blood," Mike D (Stumptown scene stud, not Beastie Boy) snarls in the intro to his band's new debut album, Creepy Little Noises, and by the time his cronies in I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House kick in moments later, you can practically hear the plasma dripping from his jowls. With truly demonic harp licks from David Lipkind squealing along to the take-no-prisoners backbeat, and in-your-face lyrics like "It ain't gonna matter what Adolf Hitler did or what John Lennon sung five billion years from now," D sounds like he's on a suicide mission to prove that his group lives up to the drunken boast of its moniker. Even when he switches from electric to acoustic guitar, the intensity does not let up. (He's also credited with playing bass on "The Hamm's Can Full of Rice.") It's a remarkably clear and dynamic recording, which more than does justice to the surprising subtlety D can muster. The vocals sometimes recall some of Axl Rose's throatier moments, or peak-junkie-period Steve Earle, with vowels twisted into an improbable twang: "Heaven," for instance, comes through as "hyeahvohn." But beneath the bluster lie some songs of substance, with humor and personality to burn. (JR).

S.F. Examiner, 01/03

    Portland-based alt-country rockers I Can Lick Any SOB in the House bring their Tom Waits-tinged honky-tonk to The City by the Bay.
    The band's gritty Americana roots coat singer Mike Damron's raspy voice like a not-so-soothing lozenge. Its debut album, "Creepy Little Noises" (In Music We Trust), plays like drunken trucker's blues, a collection of calloused tunes about shattered hopes and simple pleasures for scruffy, hard working, pack-a-day loners who enjoy the afternoon's first beer as much as the company of a good woman and the reek of 18-wheeler funk.



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