In this day and age of throwaway pop, bad boy bands, boob popping divas, and hip-hop bling bling, there ain't much for a real rock 'n' roller to latch onto - a record to wrap our dirty little fingers around and rave about to all the other freaks, geeks and cretins. Sure, there's neo garage bands like The Strokes and The Vines or what have you, but one gets the feeling that these gents would run their well-tailored trousers at five minutes alone with a real punk like Thunders or Rotten. Naw, I mean real rock. The Hangmen are a real rock band, the last of a dying breed - hard as nails, cheap as dirt, rock n' roll.

Loteria: An event or affair whose outcome is or seems to be determined by chance.

Loteria is the title of the new Hangmen record and is a pretty good summary of the band itself and their sorted history.

The Hangmen have been kicking around the L.A. scene for a decade and a half or so, yet still remain the best of the bunch. What started as a good time at Raji's mutated into a major label funded, drug fueled rock 'n' roll nightmare of E! True Hollywood Story proportions only to sink into the darkness to gain strength and return a more powerful beast than before. Wiser, stronger, harder, better. Loteria is the proof that the Hangmen are not only among the best rock bands out there today, but maybe the last real rock 'n' roll band.

In 2000, the band kicked out the critically heralded Metallic IOU and pulled off the rare feat of making a comeback album better then their Capitol Records debut in 1989. They hit the road with the likes of Social Distortion, Supersuckers, The Kills and Concrete Blonde and began to turn on a whole new legion of fans hungry for the rock. By 2002, hot off the road, The Hangmen unleashed We've Got Blood On the Toes of Our Boots, a blistering live in the studio affair that found them re-recording numbers off their debut alongside IOU cuts and few rare nuggets. More touring ensued and The Hangmen were back in action finally getting the respect they deserve.

After years of burnouts, burned deals and burned bridges, The Hangmen were back on course and Small found himself an influence to new generation of underground heroes as Supersuckers leader Eddie Spaghetti credits him as a major influence, L7 sang his praises and the Hangmen's debut was cited as an highly influential record in rock circles. Small has become the go-to guy for hip indie filmmakers looking for words of wisdom on rock 'n' roll sects, as he's been featured in the rock documentary Badsville and appears in the Gun Club biography The Birth, the Death and the Ghost.

Loteria is the band's third album in four years, and may very well be their finest to date. The current lineup consists of drummer Todd Haney, bassist Angelique Congelton and guitarist Rane Raitsikka (formerly of Finnish glam-punk gods Smack) and, quite frankly, they have never sounded better.

"There is a big world out there, and we wanna go check it out and play our music," Smalls says with a Cheshire cat grin. "I mean, we're a new and upcoming band even though we've been around forever. We just want people to hear our new record."

From the vicious opening salvo of "Blood Red" to the sonic dirge closer "I Just Wanna Feel Good," Loteria is thirteen songs of pure rock n' roll decadence. The album plays like a series of Hollywood war stories. The people, the streets, the drugs, and bum deals, it's all there. The lyrics speak volumes and reek of personalized tales of heartache and redemption. The music is junkie rock without the junk no more. Tight, focused and to the motherfuckin' point, Loteria is the sound of one man taking on the world -- his world- -- and trying to change it.

It also happens to be the Hangmen's finest moment. The time is now.

-- Frank Meyer
    Author, On the Road with the Ramones

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