It’s a neat trick if you can do it. Taking a sound that is already familiar, that people can easily relate to and changing it just enough to make it appealing to a whole new audience. But that is, essentially, what Mark Henes does on Strip Me Down. It echoes with the sound of such disparate underground music scenes as early rock and roll, 60’s garage rock, Lower East Side, low-slung punk, alt-rock and every outsider guitar movement right up until the present day.
For a man looking to reinvent the classic American music sound he is getting things just right. Strip Me Down is the sound of belligerence clashing with brilliance, of cutting things right back to basics, of capturing the essential qualities of rock and roll. But the art is not just to plagiarise or plunder, the art is to strip things down (pun intended) to their component parts and then reassemble them so that they resonate with a new, younger audience. And if this were a test, which music never is, but if this were, there is only one grade to give. A +. Just until someone discovers a grade above that!