|THE A.K.A.s - White Doves & Smoking Guns (Fueled by Ramen)
The A.K.A.s’ album debut is little more than an expansion of the things that made them such a powerful punk ‘n roll band both live and on their previous demo release. And that’s a good thing. The A.K.A.s rip it up and their upbeat sound is fun to listen to, but this isn’t exactly a party band – the lyrics are dark and the inspiration behind them troubling. The album title is taken from the chorus on the anti-war track “Every Great Western” – “white doves love the smell of smoking guns.” Meanwhile, “Always On” is a ode to the addictive banality of TV and the media in general. “Gotta Get Outta Here” combines the sing-songy rap of the Beastie Boys with the bounce of the B-52s – a strange and strong mix. And “Generation Vexed” is a commentary on the aesthetic of Gen X with the telling refrain “What you gonna do when it ain’t cool to be a loser no more?” Look for the video to this one all over MTV2 among other places.
The A.K.A.s capture the power of the early Ramones, mix it up with the angst of the Sex Pistols, filter it through the bravado of Guns ‘N Roses and come up with their very own brand of punk ‘n roll. They have been touring non-stop throughout the U.S. with the likes of the Dwarves and Stretch Armstrong. You can also hear the A.K.A.s along with a spate of other bands, including Blink 182 and the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones on A Santa Cause - It’s a Punk Rock Christmas, a special release to benefit the Pediatric AIDS foundation. For more info, downloads, pix, etc. take a look at the very cool www.theAKAs.com.
|An end-page review &
preview of things
current & cool
25 years of
|THE VANITY SET - Little Stabs of Happiness (Cargo UK)
If your tastes run to the avant-garde rather than the artsy – if you prefer a little bouzouki, sousaphone, theremin and tuba mixed in with your standard guitar, bass and drums – if you really hanker for the odd and the obtuse – then the Vanity Set is there for you. The side-project of perennial NYC scentster James Sclavunos (Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Sonic Youth, the Cramps and presently Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), the seven-member Vanity Set is nothing if not adventurous. Song titles like “Little Demons,” “Imp of the Perverse” and “Little Stabs of Happiness” don’t begin to offer a glimpse of the pleasures and profanities on display here. If, over a naked lunch, Tom Waits collaborated on a three-penny opera with the demented ghosts of Noel Coward and William S. Burroughs they might (if they got lucky) come up with something along these lines. All in all, I enjoy this (the second Vanity Set release) a whole lot more than I’m willing to admit to myself – but, then again, maybe there’s other powers at work here.
|THE WHEELIES - Ha!
Williamsburg-based band the Wheelies’ EP Ha! was co-produced by the trio with Max Feldman, known for his live mixes for the likes of Phish, U2, Eric Clapton and Radiohead. The end result is a recording that manages to avoid the sterility of standard studio fare and showcases the Wheelies as an energetic, yet introspective group. With Hutch Hill on guitar, Eban McAvay on bass and Mat Marolla on drums, the Wheelies have been together for a couple years now and the 4-song CD displays the easy familiarity these guys have with one another as the instrumentation delicately intertwines on heartfelt songs like “Icecap Water” and “Cloudplay of Canada” or comfortably kicks in on the more upbeat “Pleasantly Distracted” and “Out From Under.” An injury to McAvay knocked the Wheelies out of commission for a spell, but they’re now back out doing a slew of gigs on the Lower East Side at places like the Mercury and Luna lounges and recently embarked on a successful mini-tour through more enlightened areas of the Southland. Samples of their music is available on the website.
|COLLIDER - WCYF (SonaBLAST!)
Collider’s six-song debut, WCYF, carries this simple dedication: “to the memory of Joey.” Yet, this isn’t just another punk-influenced band’s acknowledgement to the Ramones' late leader. Not only is that groundbreaking band’s touch all over this disc (it’s produced by Tommy nee Ramone Erdelyi, with cover art by Arturo Vega), but Joey was also a mutual admirer of Collider lead singer Jed Davis. Davis’ tribute to Joey, “Bowery Electric,” released in Europe featured a Ramones' rhythm section of Marky and C.J. along with long-time Ramones' producer Daniel Rey on guitar. And ending his 15-year hiatus to produce was T. Erdelyi which eventually led to his collaboration with Collider.
All that said, Davis’ Collider (with Davis providing vocals and keys; Sean Gould, guitar; Mike Keanley, bass; Joey Abbatantuono, drums) is far from a clone of New York’s original punk rockers. It would be a real stretch to see any old school punk influence in the dynamically soulful “Aftermath” or the power-pop fueled “If They Don’t Come Back” with its infectious anthem-like lyric “if you love someone set them free.” “Mock Cheer,” “1991” and “God Bless Us Anyway” all feature elements of hardcore, rap and power-punk (in a kind of Greenday way) all made wickedly palatable by Davis’ charismatic presence along with Sean Gould’s sometimes subtle, but always fiery guitar prowess. The last cut, “Say Yeah,” from its 1-2-3-4 count-off (provided by C.J.) to its final, hauntingly sustained power chord, is one of those classic, high-energy surf-like rockers of the kind Joey Ramone so obviously enjoyed performing and serves as the real dedication on this recording.
Collider has also gone into Flaming Lips’ studio with that band’s producer Dave Fridmann and Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian). So more is coming. But in the meantime there’s WCYF which is the polite way of saying We’re Collider … You’re Fucked. In truth, what we are … is impressed with this strong release.
Crisp vocals and slick instrumentation dominate Prospect Place’s self-titled EP. All songs are written and sung by Yotty Yohanan who, along with Rev on backing vocals and rhythm guitar, make up the duo. Friends since early school days in Israel, the women inevitably made the move to New York as the next logical step in their musical development. With subtle influences from and references to the Breeders, Heart and perhaps Sherly Crow, the recording features strong harmonies and a rock ‘n roll soul. The uncredited backing band kick it for the most part, but despite the catchy hooks and dynamic frills, the hired guns are secondary to the spirited emotion of Yotty and Rev especially on “Into the Hole” and “I Know,” the EP’s strongest cuts. Not coincidently, they are also the most basic arrangements on the recording. I can't imagine a song like "Into the Hole" not being a lock for commercial radio. Prospect Place is an obviously talented duo who have been showcasing in select venues around town and would appear to be on the brink of major notice.
|Quick Cuts contributors:
Jeff Rey, Malcolm Sane, Michele Falk
© Copyright 2003 NEON, blue door productions
All rights reserved
|THE DOGS – Suburban Nightmare (Dionysus)
THE ‘LECTRIC CHAIRS – Sparkolounger (Dionysus)
The Dogs have released their first album of new music in 24 years. The seminal Detroit/Los Angeles punk band is back with all of the original members – Loren Molinare handling vocals and guitar, Mary Kay on bass and Ron Wood behind the drum kit. The 10-song CD Suburban Nightmare is out on Dionysus who had previously re-issued several of the Dogs classic recordings. For a trio of old school punksters the music sounds surprisingly fresh from the kick-off “I’m Alive” through the rousing set-closer “Class of 1970.” They manage to rip many of the new school punk wanabes to shreds with down ‘n dirty scorchers that have a bluesy Stooges/MC5 feel that harkens back to the Dog’s Detroit origins.
Loren Molinare, whose past history includes a stint with L.A. rockers Little Caesar in addition to the Dogs, can also be heard playing live with the Southern Cal band the ‘Lectric Chairs sharing vocal and guitar duties with Marsh Gooch. Although he had a hand in the mixing, the ‘Lectric Chairs Sparkolounger was recorded before Molinare joined on. The 6-song CD showcases a no-bull straight ahead rock band and features the Molinare/Gooch penned “GST 483” a version of which also appears on the Dog’s new album.