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Music Reviews

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May 14, 1997
Techno Pop

The buzz this Spring is Techno Pop. New releases sporting this sound include:
Silver jetSilver Jet, Pull Me Up...Drag Me Down (Virgin Records 1997) - The trio that comprises Silver Jet make their major label debut with Pull Me Up...Drag Me Down. With plenty of pop and power rock hooks, Silver Jet is ready to light the afterburners.

Silver Jet consists of Luke Tierney on vocals and guitar, Jeff Gross on bass and vocals, and Grant Conway on drums and vocals. The album was produced by Tim Palmer of Sponge.

While the comparisons that first spring to mind are Big Star and Cheap Trick, Pull Me Up...Drag Me Down also bears more than a passing resemblance to Matthew Sweet.

From songs like the mellow "Scenester" to the more uptempo "That Call" and "Plastiqa," Silver Jet has pop chops that won't quit. With its slick production work, Pull Me Up...Drag Me Down is an auspicious debut.  
Pulsars, Pulsars (Almo Sounds 1997) - Pulsars consists of brothers Dave (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Harry Trumfio (drums). Recorded in their hometown of Chicago, Pulsars is part geek, part techno, and a whole lot of new wave.

Laced throughout with sweet pop hooks, the brothers describe their sound as "Ramones meets Jesus and Mary Chain meets Beach Boys." Which isn't far off the mark. While quirky songs like "Wisconsin" and "My Pet Robot" may have trouble competing for radio airplay, Pulsars is more pop-accessible than the recent releases from Beck and Eels, though all share the same fascination with studio wizardry.  

Sneaker Pimps Sneaker Pimps, Becoming X (Virgin 1996) - Sneaker Pimps are a leading proponent of "Brit Hop." And that's an apt description for this shadowy, flighty album.

With songs like "6 Underground" and "Post-Modern Sleeze," Sneaker Pimps boast "fat laces and fatter beats."

King Biscuit Flower Hour - The King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show continues its ambitious schedule of releases from its extensive faults. The new batch includes the following:

The Waitresses - The Waitresses are captured from a 1982 New York show in support of their debut album, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? Fronted by the spunky, self-assured Patty Donahue, The Waitresses display an uptempo, New Wave sound. (In a sad note, Patty died last year after a serious illness.)

Says guitarist Chris Butler, "This was one of the first shows where we were promoting the album. It was like a graduation for us. We were making the transition from being in the beer business to being in the music business.

"It was also our first live radio broadcast. We were nervous as hell which is probably why 'Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful' was played at a million fucking miles an hour! We had been out on the road humping the single for about a year and were really well seasoned.

"Musically, this band could turn on a dime, change directions, improvise, whatever. It was awesome what happened during the set. You can hear it in the solos. The band was just burning."

Including the band's hit, "I Know What Boys Like," The Waitresses' set is remarkably fresh, and sounds as good today as it did 15 years ago. Like many bands, the group fell victim to the excesses of success. Continues Scott Butler, "I think the band sold about a quarter of a million albums, and I guarantee there's our blood in every one of them." But for a glimpse of fun band at the top of its form, listen to the Waitresses.
Renaissance Renaissance - Renaissance recorded "Classical Rock" in the English sense, ala Yes. Lead singer Annie Haslam is fondly remembered by fans as having an incredibly "pure" voice.

The Renaissance set was recorded in 1977 at the Royal Albert Hall, and is featured on two separate CD's. Renaissance has a cult following, and the new albums are getting strong support across the country.
Pat Travers Band Pat Travers - Pat Travers is featured in a live gig from 1984 that includes such favorites as "Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" and "Snortin' Whiskey," his two biggest hits. I saw Pat Travers live, and this album sounds a lot like I remember him - loud, four-piece arena rock.

Ben Vaugn Ben Vaughn, Rambler 65 (Rhino 1996) - Sometimes a gag can go too far. And that's what happens on Rambler 65 by grunge revivalist Ben Vaughn.

The non-too-subtle gag is that the new album was self-recorded in a 1965 Dodge Rambler. While there are some catchy tracks, including "7 Days Without Love," Rambler 65's fuzzy sound wears thin after awhile.

If Vaughn had been more subtle about the recording history of Rambler 65, it might have become a cult hit, with fans asking, "Hey, did you hear about that cool album that was recorded in a car?" With the punchline as the first and best gag, the rest of the release falls short.

-- Randy Krbechek
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