CD reviews

Where's The Party?

R-Angels

"Where's the Party?" asks the title of the R-Angels debut CD. I think we'll need to see some ID first, ladies. From the looks of the Angels' photos (the lollipops/stuffed animals motif is particularly stunning), this party is definitely going to be an all-ages affair. The sugar-coated corn pop of "I Need To Know" and "Used To Be" are so trite and manufactured they make the Spice Girls look like L7. Replete with requisite nods to hip-hop, skyscraper-sized hooks that assault the senses like a mob boss on a bad day, and plenty of inspiration from B&B; (that would be, like, um, Britney & the Backstreets), R-Angels are almost interesting for being the culmination of everything that's wrong with popular music right now. Though Gina, Dorothy, Lian and Vonnie are apparently all the rage of pre-pubescent television, they probably wouldn't go over well with the Susan Faludi set. The chorus of "Baby I'll Do" goes something like: "Whatever you ask/That's what I'll do/Give anything to get closer to you/I surrender it all completely to you." Somewhere in a cold, shallow grave, Mary Wollstonecraft is spinning like a top on a merry-go-round. Angels, this is Charlie. I've got a mission for you: Get some real tunes, a new producer and don't quit your day jobs.

Upper And Downer

The Yo Yos

Sub Pop upstarts the Yo Yos crank the volume up to 11 on its latest release "Upper and Downer." Packed with punchy, punked-up blasts of garage noise and frenzied feedback, the London quartet paints elements of classic Euro pop-punk onto its musical canvas. Ghosts of the Clash, Generation X and Hanoi Rocks haunt the Yo Yos' sonic temple, but the band doesn't sound derivative as much as inspired. Strains of Rancid, The Lime Spiders and even old Kiss can also be found between the Yo Yos musical lines. Eschewing artsy, emo pretension for high-octane rock, the Yos Yos like its music served hard, hot and fast, barely stopping or slowing to catch a breath. "Upper and Downer" definitely prefers the former and keeps things moving like a cheetah running a 10K. Interestingly, the Yo Yos bring a unique gift of harmony to the table, blending plenty of poppy vocals into its superfuzzy sonic soup. This gives the band's songs an extra lift, taking them from standard to soaring. The Yo Yo's penchant for harmonic nirvana could have something to do with the fact that singer-guitarist Danny McCormack is the former leader of indie gods The Wildhearts, but it's just one aspect of this scorching release.

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