Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles

The Chevelles

Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles
Wicked Cool Records

After practically 20 years of existence and success in Australia and Europe, The super loud powerpop guitar attack of Perth, Australia's The Chevelles finally hit American shores next week with Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles. The American debut is well earned. The Chevelles have changed members many times over. Nevertheless, the musical pedigree is pretty impressive. Founding members include Richard Lane and Gary Chambers of the legendary and seminal Perth garage act The Stems as well as their second and current Stems drummer Dave Shaw. Founding Chevelles members Duane Smith from The Freuds, and Jeff Halley from The Kryptonics. Although well known in both Europe and Australia, a multitude of singles, EPs, and full length releases plus one small, joint Australia/American release At Second Glance in 1998, international recognition has eluded The Chevelles due to the familiar story of bad business decisions by record labels, bankrupticies, and a periodically changing lineup mostly involving drummers. Fortunately, that was where the Spinal Tap parallel ended, so no sudden deaths from spontaneous combustions, bizarre gardening accidents, or worse. Their current drummer Paul Di Renzo is a solid powerhouse, so he'll hopefully be there for the long haul. Nevertheless, Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles is further proof that the Aussie garage scene spawned some of the best rock 'n roll out there. Luckily, with current reissues from The Hoodoo Gurus, The Hitmen, The Screaming Tribesmen and the extensive Do The Pop Redux: Part I with Parts II and III soon to follow, plus recent new releases from Radio Birdman and The Stems (go here to read the review for The Stems late 2007 release Heads Up), some of the best garage acts ever are finally being heard for the first time. Therefore, the "best of" release Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles could not have been timed better.

The Chevelles play the loudest powerpop known on this Earth! That's undeniable. There's something for the girls since it's catchy and has super syrupy sweet vocal harmonies, but there's something for the guys with dual feedback laden powerchords whose mere sound screams damage to human eardrums at any volume level, both courtesy of Duane Smith and Adrian Allen. Although categorized as powerpop, The Chevelles are like their Aussie cohorts since their garage heyday had bands that occupied shades of grey with various mixtures of powerpop and the more basic garage rock. Although everybody sounded different, the connections, common roots and in many cases, the fact that the scene was small and everyone played in each other's bands at one time or another gave all the Aussie garage bands a common interest that was equalled to their common music influences with each band tending towards one side or another to varying degrees. So although The Chevelles are by their own admittance powerpop, their music falls almost more in line with the louder garage rock influences. One of the earlier tracks on Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles is 1990's "She Don't Come Around," a three chord poppy rocker with some great '60s style guitar. Suprisingly, the song was released as a dual single with the Richard Lane penned "Be My Friend," which gained more praise and was noted by a critic to "rock harder and louder than any Stems song" and is unfortunately, not included in Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles. However, Lane "departed" in late 1991 and used many of the songs originally penned for the band for his new project, The Rosebud Generation. Therefore, the music written by Duane and Jeff is highlighted on this anthology since they are the remaining original members and the purpose of Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles is to bring them into the present as a current band and not a full retrospective.

Some standout tracks taken from the 1995 release Rollerball Candy include "She's Not Around," a super hyped vocal harmony song that treads the line between catchy pop and straight three chord '60s garage rock and an edgy remake of "For Your Love," originally made famous by The Yardbirds. The majority of the tracks on Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles are pulled from their 2002 releases Sunseeker (Spain) and Girl God (Australia, USA and UK). Although all of them are great, crunched up powerpop songs with the distinctive Chevelles feedback power chords on two guitars, the 'cute boy' vocals for "C'mon Everybody" are almost deceptive since it sounds like somebody at least 10 years younger than any of them were at the time, but the nod to fellow Aussies The Sunnyboys is really cool. "Sleeper," another track from the same era, is a psych-metallic, riffed up melodic guitar rocker juxtaposed with vocal harmonies that are perfected together. "Angelina Jolie" is cheesy just for the subject matter, but it will still pop your eardrums, so we can allow them that indulgence. Included on Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles are three new tracks: The powerful "Get It On," the incredibly cool but basic 3 chords of "Stacey Loves Cocaine," and the primitive, psyched out ball-rocker "Barbarella," a science fiction worst case scenario of what happens when two best friends come accross a hot woman adrift in space and longing for company.

As we all know, anyone can write and play catchy songs and anyone can play them loud, but the real genius comes in when they can do both and combine the catchiness with the rawness better than most. The Chevelles not only succeed in making super loud songs with catchy hooks better than most, the feel is unique and comes across as a a few laid back surfers bending their axes to their own will in a casual but controlled style much like they might do on their boards. In other words, they make it look really easy, fun, loud, but laid back; and that's the way it should be. Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles might appeal to the casual rock listener while still pleasing the serious rock and garage fan with its catchy vocals and trashy loud but still slick guitar rock. On second thought, the casual listener will probably think it's too loud.

Barbarella Girl God: Introducing The Chevelles is 16 tracks and almost an hour of supercharged powerpop that is certain to get them the recognition in The States that these Aussie garage rock veterans deserve. In truth, this album is so fucking cool and loud that it's the most fun one could ever have without taking their clothes off or killing their brain cells! They also have an upcoming album Accelerator due for release later this year. Hopefully, our ears might still be functional by then.

To take a look at their photo album from South by Southwest this year, click on the photo.

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