Saturday, September 6, 2008

Velcro Stars - 'Hiroshima's Revenge'

Bands take note: Wicked sweet cover art might be all that stands between you and a potential fan base. Consider the Tennessee indie pop rock group Velcro Stars. As I tore through Wonka HQ’s disgustingly massive collection of death metal looking for records to review, I found Hiroshima’s Revenge. The packaging eschews the atypical plastic jewel case in favor of brown cardboard and a black, blue, and white paint job. The artwork, which depicts a massive being (God?!) throwing bombs at a skeleton, has a handmade, intimate quality to it. Included with the album is a folded pamphlet containing more tasty art, this time coupled with a poem. The fold-out features a military man dropping bananas that turn into bombs on cities before he slips on a peel labeled “Cinnimon Jews” and blows up. I have no idear what the hell it represents, but I am sort of (by which I mean not really) sure that the art isn’t anti-Semitic, so that’s cool.

But while Velcro Stars’ artwork is good enough to get their “feet” in my “door” (that sounds gross!), it’s their Pixies-tinged tunes that keep them in my heart. Opener “Same Every Day” delivers powered-up pop a la The Rentals and the aforementioned Boston rockers Pixies. “Here and now / We are young and proud,” sings the nasally group, and they certainly sound like it. The group quickly transcends these obvious comparisons,though, with the title track.

Musically laidback and lyrically melancholy, the song Hiroshima’s Revenge” has a Pavement-with-organ feel, but Velcro Stars are more than just a ’90s indie rock tribute band. They’re a solidly catchy pop band in their own right. Follow-up tracks “All That I Do” and “Not So Easy” serve up a double dose of sugary promises of fidelity to lovers, infectious and peppy. These songs and more make excellent use of horns and xylophone. The glut of extra instruments is never masturbatory; everything is complementary.

The only snag against Hiroshima’s Revenge is the running time. 48 minutes is just a little too long for this album, and the 15 songs presented here could’ve easily been in the 10 to 12 range to avoid sounding repetitive. But when later album cuts like “Pretense” do begin to sound redundant, the band switches lead vocalists from Shane to Rebekah Spresser. Pretty much everyone but drummer Andy Spore gets a little bit of mic time. Even though Hiroshima’s Revenge could stand for some editing, ultimately it is a good indie pop rock release. Frolicking and loose, Velcro Stars are a band to watch in 2007. [NOTE: This article is hella-old.]

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