Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Spastic Hearts

I'll be honest, I didn't know jack shit about the whole Ramones-core/pop punk movement and just how spread out it was globally until these cats I knew started rocking leather jackets and cramming as many two-minute songs and three-chord variations onto recorded tracks and into live sets.
I was too busy trying to find the next band that sounded like AC/DC when out of nowhere these frenzied and frantic rock 'n' rollers started throwing suburban house parties with cheap swill, cheap equipment and cheap high school chicks. Add about 50 pairs of Chuck Taylors and you had the recipe for teenage suburbia — Youngstown, Ohio style. 
It's all rock 'n' roll, obviously, which as the lot of us got older found out — even if we worshiped at different altars.
The Spastic Hearts are a fresh take from road-worn and weary rockers who toured two continents in Johnie 3 and The Hi-Life, not counting of course God knows how many other one-off groups prior.
And while the Hearts are still firmly rooted in the lessons of Joey and Dee Dee Ramone, they nod a great deal more towards Pink Spiders, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Huntingtons, 50s doo-wop and Chuck Berry.
Of course it's all been done before and everyone says it's stupid until the record comes out and 100 high-as-a-kite kids cram into the local dive. Then everyone wants to be as stupid as the band on stage which is how the whole damn movement started in the first place.
But make no mistake, the Hearts self-titled debut album is no paltry affair. Far from it.
"Gimmie Gimmie," "Rock 'N' Roll," and "What's Your Name," and "Rocket Ship" are fast-paced, addictive, punk rock anthems.
No self-respecting pop-punker would leave out odes to girls, either, and you get plenty of that all over the place here — "Colorado," "Kiss You," "Wait A Little Bit," "I Know," "Without You."
Perhaps the album's best song and certainly radio-friendly rocker is "Just For You." Hell yes it's about a girl again, but it's slowed to mid-tempo with an absolutely massive chorus hook and layered backing vocals that takes the Hearts to heights the group's previous bands never quite achieved.
You wouldn't want everyone at the party to look the same which is what makes rock 'n' roll beautiful, baby. There's lookers of all types, sizes and styles. It's eye candy, and the Hearts are supplying the soundtrack. 
That mix of speed and the willingness to stretch the pop-punk envelope beyond the "1-2-3-4" and leather, however, is what makes the Hearts the hottest chick at the party.
Appropriately the record ends with "Getcha Outta My Head," which like "Just For You" slows things down to a solid 4/4 and again sports the ingredients that make the Hearts the spastic rockers they are — Chucks, girls, guitars, gang vocals and great songs. 9/10 - B.J. Lisko
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