Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SXSW '09 Pick #4: The Cute Lepers

(Reposted from an earlier review with updated show times)

The Cute Lepers

Can't Stand Modern Music
Blackheart Records Group

A Briefs spinoff? Oh, man! I can't tell you how many times I bobbed my head around singing "She's got a knife to my head, alright!" in my cube at work. Seattle's The Briefs have to be one of the funnest bands out there, so a project with Steve E. Nix already has the bar set pretty high. Goods delivered! "Can't Stand Modern Music" is full of catchy beats, handclaps, and some of the coolest new wavy/punk riffs that remind one of how punk/new wave rock used to be fun and just silly in a tongue in cheek sort of way. "Terminal Boredom" is a perfect opener with tribal beats and high pitched chords punctuated by Steve E. Nix's "An hour goes by and....(um, you have to hear it to figure it out)! "Cool City" is a dead on homage to The Circle Jerks with a more narrative vocal, catchy chorus, and melodic riffing. The stuff is punk rock, but catchier and definitely not to be taken too seriously. One kind of can't help it with a lead singer who goes into vocal spasms much like the never taken seriously until he became a composer Danny Elfman from Oingo Boingo. Other tracks 'feel' more of a straight on, early '80s, So. Cal. punk like "out of Order," but the handclaps, Oh-Ohs, and female harmonies are a little too inclusive just to be punk rock.

The Cute Lepers are right. Modern music sucks. The best music out there involves taking the basics from the past and bringing them into the future without cleaning them up. The cleanup is modern. Like Steve E. sings in "Terminal Boredom"-"Aint nothing on the radio, no hope, But that stupid band called chemical...Oh what a mope." The album ends on a semi serious note with an optimistic call to arms on "Opening Up," but the harmonies still rock.

Why does this band have seven members? One can only guess that they wanted to include as many people in the fun as possible. "So Screwed Up," like many of the tracks on Can't Stand Modern Music, is more loud punk rock with harmonies. Somehow those two things don't fit together well. I guess like other reviewers, the focus on good songs and catchy tunes with a guitar base can only be called powerpop, but I think a more apt description is punk rock in its joy and irreverance without regards to conventions, including the sometimes uptight idealism of those who want punk to be considered as serious. Yeah, punk rock was about rebellion, but it had plenty of silliness and fun at the same time. Call it what you want: Powerpop, Pop Punk, whatever. To many, The Cute Lepers are just great punk rock. Although his current whereabouts are unknown, Mojo Nixon is smiling right now.

SXSW Showcase:

Friday, March 20

Red 7 Patio (611 E 7th St) (All Ages)

Devil Dolls Booking

Kepi: The Band 8:30 p.m.
Poison Arrows (GA) 9:15 p.m.
The Cute Lepers 10:00 p.m.
The Dollyrots 10:40 p.m.
The Pink Spiders 11:20 p.m.
The Girls 12:00 a.m.
Teenage Bottlerocket 12:35 a.m.
The Queers 1:15 a.m.

Free Day Show:

Breakaway Records (1704 E 5th St)

Mar 19 2009 12:00 p.m.

afternoon show @ with
The Girls
The Pranks
The Cute Lepers
...and more

Terminal Boredom

So Screwed Up

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