Categories
Music Reviews

Gene

Gene

Libertine

Artist Direct / BMG

Gene have been unable to scale the commercial heights of their mid-1990s offerings lately, and there’s little hope that this one is going to change any of that. That’s no reason why you shouldn’t get this, however, because this is a fine release from the British kings of melodramatic soul-infused pop, and the natural heirs to The Smiths’ angst-pop throne. While this may initially give the impression of being almost too near-perfect and unassuming for its own good, stay with it, and it will grow on you and reveal a subtle and beautifully crafted effort from one of the most consistently good bands out there.

The lilting opener “Let Me Move On” is a great kick-off track, but merely a slight hint of the several stunning moments that will follow. “Does He Have a Name?” is Gene at their best, a restrained performance that only serve to strengthen the sense of confusion and paranoia that the song deal with. “O Lover” is a fantastic, strolling pop song, while “Spy in the Clubs” even bears a trace of Soft Cell. “We’ll Get What We Deserve” is a slab of soulful pop with a country blues twist, an absolutely irresistible track and one of the album’s truly great standout moments — and provides a sharp contrast to the equally great, but far more dwelling, introverted “Let Me Rest,” which climaxes in a frenzy of uncontrolled (well, relatively speaking) guitar riffing and a furious Hammond organ solo. A convincing and considered new effort from one of the truly great bands from Britain’s early-’90s wave of new guitar pop bands, proving that Gene is still a very viable prospect indeed.

Artist Direct Records: http://www.artistdirect.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Ann Beretta

Ann Beretta

New Union• Old Glory

Lookout!

On an Internet message board, I recently saw a post by a kid (no doubt all of 14) proclaiming that “old school punk is dead.” Ha ha. That little shit hasn’t heard Ann Beretta’s latest. This stuff would kick his ass so hard, his mommy and daddy would have to take him to the hospital.

Simply put, this is the best old school punk rock I’ve heard in a long time, possibly since Down By Law’s Fly The Flag and holding its own with slightly glammier entries like American Heartbreak’s Postcards From Hell and Libertine’s See You in the Next Life. Youth crew anthemic lyrics about leaving home, politics, heartache, and revolution, with all the right catchphrases like “nowhere generation” and “lock’d, ready, and load,” but just vague enough that just about anyone will be able to relate. Add to the solid lyrics great, melodic, mid-tempo old school punk music clearly inspired by The Clash (and a bassist clearly inspired by Rancid’s Matt Freeman), and instrumental variety not often seen on modern punk records (old school or otherwise), including the occasional acoustic guitar in with the electrics, and even a piano on one cut.

Get it now. Don’t make me tell you twice.

Lookout! Records, 3264 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703; http://www.lookoutrecords.com. Ann Beretta, PO Box 12246, Richmond, VA; annberetta@juno.com, http://www.abrocknroll.com

Categories
Music Reviews

Libertine

Libertine

See You In the Next Life

Substandard Records

Man oh man, is this good. The lead singer has a voice with a bit of a rasp, and the band kicks out mid-fast, glammy punk that reminds a bit of early Generation X, or more recently, D-Generation (among the bands listed in their thank yous).

I dare you to listen to “If Wishes Were Horses” or “Moscow” and not be singing along and pogoing around the room. Extra bonus cool points for a surf/spy instrumental that doesn’t sound retro, the Valley of the Dolls (a GenX album title) inspired pill-OD cover, and the back cover showing them playing live, not on some big colored-spot stage, but in someone’s basement. These guys not only have the sound, but the glampunk look and attitude, the total package.

Go out right now. Get this album. If you can’t find it, just send Libertine some money.

Substandard, PO Box 575, Syracuse, NY 13210; http://www.substandard.com/