El Destroyo is the brainchild of Jimmy Friedman, a veteran of the San Francisco alternative scene dating back to his days in the late '70s with the Wolvarines. His lead vocals vary in approach, depending on the material; sometimes he sounds like a higher-pitched Lee Hazlewood, at other times a bit like Lou Reed ala Berlin. The band's songs have a heavy '60s pop influence, with elements of psychedelia and novelty pop. The music has a light-hearted, lightweight feel to it. If you can imagine a cross between the 1910 Fruitgum Company, Love, and the Ramones, David Bowie you might get an idea of what Jimmy Friedman & El Destroyo sounds like. The band features some well-traveled veterans in its lineup, including Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes. Ritchie produced and played bass on El Destroyo's third album, Power of My Mind, as well as ensuring a spot for the group as an opening act for the Femmes. Other notable members of the group include guitarist Roger Rocha (Four Non-Blondes), Yoonki Chai, drummer Shig "33" (Plastic Ono Band, Hot Tuna), and permanent bassists Ari "the King" Gorman & Kurt (Mushroom). If there is a place for bubblegum pop in the alternative music scene, El Destroyo has the position sewn up.
There's no classifying Friedman's El Destroyo THE SHOW GOES ON • A little bit folky-alternative and a little bit rock 'n' roll, the group's releasing its second album WHAT DO the Violent Femmes, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and the Dead Kennedys have in common? They all have a member who's played music with Jimmy Friedman, the soulsonic singing and songwriting force behind El Destroyo, a San Francisco band celebrating the release of its indescribably wow! second album, "Power of My Mind" (released on the S.F. label Lao Record Co. LTD.) Monday night at San Francisco's Make-Out Room. El Destroyo's folky-alterna-roots-rock sound rises above just about anything in my disc player these days. Yet it seems that the extraordinary quintet, in its fifth year as a band, is one of the music world's best-kept secrets. Maybe that's because zeroing in on the secret sauce that makes the band is no easy task. One might be tempted to describe it as an art-rock troupe, but that would be doing a big disservice to the band's songs and their punky poetic rock 'n' roll sensibilities, fed by Friedman's love of Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Dylan and David Bowie. A ragtime ditty like "Those Kids" fits neatly beside silly and naive love songs like "Hey Everybody" and "Christen Brett," named after Friedman's wife. "'Those Kids' is about the suffering of children in the Third World, taken from the soundtrack of a movie ...," Friedman says. "The movie's going to be released soon. The song was partly written by Howie Epstein, the bass player from Tom Petty." Somehow, the sparky combination of inalienable truths set to a wacky rock beat and a backup story to match works: It's entirely serious, yet rooted in the comic-book rock 'n' roll style of the Ramones and the Archies. "Go to ITunes to down Load Music!"