Saturday, March 24, 2007

They're in Parties

The Death of a Party,
The Rise and Fall of Scarlet City, Double Negative Records [5/22/07]


The band's jerky rhythms and popish punk
hooks recall first-gen punks the Buzzcocks and
the Clash. And it conjures up the kind of dark
and paranoid imagery that had post-punks
of that era reaching for the black eyeliner...
-- Bill Picture, San Francisco Chronicle

The minute I popped this debut disc into the player, my first thought was, "Hey, it's a British Strokes!" And that's ironic, since the Death of a Party are neither Britons nor New Yorkers. Rather, the quartet hails, as Journey once put it, from the city by the Bay. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether that means San Francisco or Oakland (some biographies cite one, some cite the other).

But that was just the first song, "Coronation Under Scarlet Seas."
As the CD continued to play, the Strokes disappeared from view. Singer/keyboard player Gareth Phillip Nicholas conveys greater urgency than Julian Casablancas. The latter has a pleasant enough voice, but he always sounds bored. Nicholas is a more excitable boy, especially when he screams, which is often. In those instances, he could give Richard Hell a run for the money.

So, you've got some Strokes, some Voidoids, and some Stranglers–at least on "The Fucking Ocean," which calls "Golden Brown" to mind–and the occasional ba-ba-bas and doo-doo-doos are a nice touch. As aggressive as the music may be, especially Adam Michael Beck's guitar playing and Patrick Lynch's drumming, this foursome always sounds like they're having fun.

At its worst, The Rise and Fall of Scarlet City, which follows
The Shame of the Sweet EP (2005), is a little samey, but there
are far worse problems to plague a band. A lack of variety is something they can always correct if the raw ingredients are in place, and they are, which bodes well for the Death of a Party.

Note: Images from the Death of a Party website
(Irja Elisa Tannlund and Rachel Corr credited).

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