It's curious to realize that Boss Hog spent 16 years away from the recording studio because their lead singer was busy being a responsible adult. But now that Cristina Martinez is able to take a break from being a working mom, the good news is Boss Hog can still cut a raw, nasty, and satisfying groove. Even better, Brood Star, the four-song EP that marks Boss Hog's return to active duty, sounds darker and grittier than 2000's Whiteout, with the drums booming harder, the samples and keyboards bursting even farther out of nowhere, and Jon Spencer's interjections full of more frantic energy than he possessed last time out. Stylistically, Brood Star doesn't break much new ground for the band -- this is still downtown rock walking in lockstep with mutated funk, with some hip-hop accents as seasoning. But for all that time away, the band has picked up where it left off with admirable strength and no loss of energy. And even though this music still has Martinez and Spencer written all over it, bassist Jens J?rgensen and drummer Hollis Queens perform the all-important task of holding down the rhythms with flying colors, and Mickey Finn's keyboards add a good share of atmosphere to the tracks. Boss Hog are all about getting that party started on the wrong side of town, and their hiatus hasn't changed their mission or dampened their skills. Brood Star is meant as a prelude to a full-length album being released later in 2016, and these four tunes suggest Boss Hog should have no trouble kicking out the proverbial jams with their comeback LP. ~ Mark Deming
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