Friday, July 31, 2009

The Russian Roulettes - R&R (Off the Hip)

The Russian Roulettes
Off the Hip

Comprised as they are of former members of such Aussie ne’er-do-wells as Digger & the Pussycats and the Specimens, the Russian Roulettes can’t help but make a big audio stink on debut platter R&R. At first blush the trio might seem like just another pack of delinquents armed with alcohol and Pebbles compilations, but there’s enough spit and fire here to raise the energy level way past the red. Psych-tinged jamming doesn’t do the RRs any favors, which means the 10-minute Girl You Know How to Dance moves from kickass to tedious in pretty short order. (It probably translates better live.) But the rest of the disk is chock full of sweet punches to the face like Party, Drinking Much Too Long and You Only Call Me When You’re Down, making any momentary lapses easy to forgive. There’s even a cool pop song (All the Things). If you miss 90s Southern grunge ‘n’ rollers like the Oblivians and the Quadrajets, you’ll wanna open your garage to the Russian Roulettes.

- Michael Toland

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Cheats - Hats Off to the Cheats

The Cheats
Hats Off to the Cheats
Off the Hip

Like a couple of kids turned loose in the garage with their musician dad’s equipment, the Cheats make a joyous racket on Hats Off to the Cheats like they’d turned on the amps for the first time. That’s not say that guitarist Jules and drummer Coops don’t know how to move their hands around properly on their instruments – they clearly do. But these guys use their gear and skills to attack songs like Don’t Be Sad, Where You Been? and Rack ‘em Up like a starving lion presented with an antelope, leaving the garage pop hooks and punk blues rhythms bristling with energy and excitement. Even the (mostly) tasteful country tune Worried About You tosses a shot of fuzzed-out adrenalin into the tune’s bloodstream. Throughout the duo keeps its tail pinned to the ground – as loose as they get, sloppiness never enters the equation. Armed with catchy, well-written songs that have caffeine bombs stuffed up their rectums, the Cheats are the kind of young, hungry, talented band that regularly blows headliners off the stage. Hats off indeed.

- Michael Toland
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