Friday, April 23, 2010

The Bobbyteens - Not So Sweet (Estrus/Screaming Apple, 2000)

Crossing lo-fi trash punk with ‘60s girl group melodrama, the poppy Glitter/Gilder side of glam rock, and the super-slutty bomp-bah-bomp of Nikki and the Corvettes, The Bobbyteens were, on paper, the perfect rock n’ roll band. And on record, they were even better! Powered by wonderfully sloppy musicianship and the strong pipes of the very sexy Tina Lucchesi, The Bobbyteens were one of the best bands of that great garage/punk scene circa the late ‘90s/early ‘00s.

Having already delivered a fantastic debut LP and a number of killer singles in the late ‘90s (“Firecracker” still makes my list of the 20 greatest rock n’ roll songs EVER!), the Bobbyteens kicked off the 2000’s with their best album, Not So Sweet. A full ten years later, I don’t find myself regretting a single word of the acclaim I heaped upon this title when it first came out. Instead, it seems I may have not praised it enough! I should have promised purchasers an enhanced sexual prowess and guaranteed fortunes. I should have warned people that if they didn’t buy the album, bad things would happen. Clearly, we can now look back and attribute historic ills such as The Iraq War, the rise of reality TV, SARS, tramp stamps, Paris Hilton, meth addiction, Dr. Phil, Nickelback, ironic trucker hats, texting, Hurricane Katrina, Miley Cyrus, and the Great Recession to the sparse sales of Not So Sweet. Shame on all of you!

Like The Donnas, the Bobbyteens were initially assembled by Darrin Raffaelli. Unlike The Donnas, the Bobbyteens actually got better after severing ties with Raffaelli. A virtual all-star team of ‘90s San Fran/Oakland garage punk (Lucchesi was in the Trashwomen and Count Backwurds; bassist Danielle Pimm had played with the Trashwomen, Count Backwurds, and Brentwoods; guitarist Lisa Schenberg was formerly in the Spastics; and Russell Quan had drummed for the Mummies, Phantom Surfers, and Count Backwurds), the Bobbyteens hardly needed a mentor. Not So Sweet is the poppiest and “cleanest” sounding item in the band’s catalog (hence its release on the German power pop imprint Screaming Apple), but if you’re expecting slickness or refined musicality, you’re barking up the wrong tree! This is primitive, 4/4 rock n’ roll – fun and catchy and amateurish in all the best ways. This is what The Runaways could have sounded like if they’d thrown out the metal influence and fed themselves a steady diet of Ramones and Dictators.

It all kicks off with “Liquid Love”, one of the least subtle sex songs ever penned. With the tone clearly established, the album unfolds as expected, with more odes to scoring with boys (“Blind Date”) and the joys of low-brow culture (“Late Nite TV”), moments redolent of the Shangri-Las (“Do You Want Me”), and cover selections appealing to both our basest instincts and the music geek in all of us (The Rubber City Rebels’ “Young and Dumb” and the Hershel Almond doo wop oldie “Let’s Get It On”). Not So Sweet is nothing revolutionary or unique, but it’s an absolute blast and a must-own for anyone who proclaims to love rock n’ roll. Quan, in his own way, is probably as great of a drummer as Keith Moon or Neil Peart, and Lucchesi’s powerhouse vocals really soar on numbers like “I’m Alright”.

The Bobbyteens would strike again in 2004 with another great effort, Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’, which turned out to be their last album. If you have any taste in music at all, you ought to go buy EVERYTHING the Bobbyteens ever did! Spend as much money as you have to! You won’t be disappointed! Unless, of course, your idea of “rock n’ roll” is Daughtry, Kings of Leon, or Vampire Weekend. In that event, I’m going to blame you in advance for the next decade’s worst atrocities: asteroid collisions, dog flu, the Iran/Israel Nuke Fest ‘13, the Jonas Brothers emo album, Martian invasion, the McDonald’s McLiverwurst, All About Steve II, the ill-fated thawing of Ted Williams’s head, the complete obliteration of California, two Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl wins, and the election of Sarah Palin. Rock on!

-Josh Rutledge

1 comment:

Mandy Link said...
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