"Make Up The Breakdown" - Hot Hot Heat
Steve Bays, singer/keyboardist of Hot Hot Heat has this obsession with his city. I know they're Canadian, a country that I have fond memories of, but does that give him the right to tell someone to get in or get out of his city? With three songs dealing with this city, I really want to know why. Does it have good food? Are the girls hot? Are the freeways congestion-free? Whatever the reason, this release on Sub Pop is one of my favorite records of the year (so far).
I used to think I was the only kid who really enjoyed new wave this day and age. Sure, we all could sing A-Ha and Flock of Seagulls, but who really thought it was good? I did. By far, my favorite band was the Cars. Well, early Cars, I could care less about "Drive." They were punk, but then they were new wave. They had style, chops, and barely clothed women on their record covers. What I'm trying to get to here is that Hot Hot Heat are channeling the Cars. Steve Bays is a dead ringer for Rick Ocasek on "Aveda" and the organ is reminiscent of an early Greg Hawkes, especialy on "Get In or Get Out." Imagine of the Cars made a album of songs just like "Just What I Needed." This is it's illegitimate child. No one told them new wave is dead.
Now it's not exactly the new wave of your much older siblings. There are no crazy synths, in fact there is only one keyboard part that isn't an organ. Their hairstyles look normal. Only one of the guys is wearing a tie. No one is participating in Live Aid. But it's unmistakably new-new wave. I'll call it Nuveau Wave. Crazy French.
This is the most danceable record I've bought this year, seriously. I always listen to cd's in my car while I review them, and I was going crazy in my car, shakin' my butt in my Saturn. "Naked In The City Again" starts off with a disco beat and underlying organ, with Bays telling us "Says she's got it all/I don't want to be the one to tell her she don't" breaking down the ego of an overly concieted young woman. Right before I bought this record at Best Buy (for the low, low price of $10) they played "No, Not Now" overhead, which stems from the fact they were just snapped up by Warner Bros. Records. Let's hope they don't fall into the majot label rut (Greenday, anyone). "Get In or Get Out" is part of the triumverate of "City" songs which also includes "Naked..." and "This Town." It has a great freak out organ solo that should have been included in every song. "Bandages" has this little eastern style intro that they revisit on "In Cairo" and for the life of me everytime I hear the last 'bandages' in the chorus it sounds like he's saying 'band of Jews.' Whatever, great song.
"You are my only girl/But you're not my owner, girl" begins the samba-like "Dance With Me" another perfect example of how this is great dance music. I really like the eastern-melody style of "In Cairo" I actually don't know if it's true sitar style crap, but it works for me. The only complaint I have is that sometimes the music leaves you at a sonic loss, like when you think that it should come crashing down on you, it almost seems timid, afraid to go out there and bust a ball. The most glaring example is "Oh Goddamnit" but other than that this is a great Nuveau Wave, butt shakin' record.