marble stature The Offense we trust! Rural bullshit from the heart of Fox Point, Providence, RI 02906

Friday, September 15, 2006



There’s nothing like pouring rain on a cold Friday off the Coast to put you into a sleepy lull. Before heading over to the studio this morning I spent a half an hour trying to figure out what I wanted to listen to today; something to bring me up a bit, but not annoy the hell out of me by sunny cheer. I think I got it.

The Rock*A*Teens The Rock*A*Teens (Daemon, 1996)

I think I saw The Rock*A*Teens about five times in one year when I was at Ohio State- no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get away from them. They seemed to open up for every band that I was into at the time, but in hindsight The Rock*A*Teens were far cooler than any of the headliners that they would support (with the exception of Neil Hagerty on his first tour) it just took me a while to realize it. Their sets were always either great or terrible (there didn’t seem to be much of a middle ground), but they had a couple songs that were pretty fantastic and I presume that most of the stuff they were playing was off of their final album Sweet Bird of Youth. Fellow Marble Stature blog-man Jared Phillips had this album lying around his apartment on Summit and Lane and we drank a few beers to it. Was this really the same band?!! Not quite, guitarist and songwriter Kelly Hogan would leave The Rock*A*Teens after their second album, Cry, but I think that time has been very kind to The Rock*A*Teens, who, in the lifetime, never seemed to be able to pull themselves out of their supporting act hole. After hearing this album I picked up all of their other albums, and while each one is rewarding in its own right, this self-titled debut is the moneybag.

Singer Chris Lopez is a wildman; like Dana Hatch and Tom Shannon (of the also unappreciated Cheater Slicks), Lopez is a tortured rocker, bound for anonymity, destined to imbibe like a legend and leave a trail of words as the ultimate suicide note. But unlike the desperate voices of the Slicks, Lopez pushes himself into a frenzy shrieking at the top of his lungs and leaving his shaky laryngitis at the end of the crescendo. Of course, these over-the-top performances start wearing you down over the course of the album, but the inventive songwriting, like a collision of slightly out-of-tune R&B, surf, punk, gospel, rock ‘n roll, the Pixies and Pavement (for beginners) through a heap of reverb, is nothing but relentless.

The Rock*A*Teens are a group that need to be written about some more, because I would hate for such an unique band to be forgotten, especially when there is so much stuff out there right now reaping in critical acclaim when The Rock*A*Teens did it better ten years ago. Buy The Rock*A*Teens and talk some shit about all of the bands that try to sound like them and pass it off as something new; The Rock*A*Teens knew their history and created something that sounded like nothing that ever came before them. Wait; is that not the goal of all bands? Yeah, hearing this for the first time last summer was like a bitch-slap from the past... just listen to "The Ram's Den" and you'll feel the sting.

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