What do L.A.'s Redd Kross have in common with Chicago bands like Enuff Z'Nuff and Off Broadway?
A monstrous Beatles infatuation. While oftentimes Jeffrey McDonald's nasal vocals sound like a dead-on John Lennon impression, other times, the band ends up coming off more like the aforementioned Chicago power popsters due to their harder edged guitar attack. (The Beatles never used this much distortion!)You could probably swap Enuff Z'Nuff's Donnie Vie and McDonald and not tell the difference. And bassist Steven McDonald provides achingly familiar Brit-pop harmonies to his brother's leads.
Red Kross have been wowing cult fans and critics for well ove r a decade now, and Show World is proof that sometimes "buzz" bands really do deserve the hype. This is a finger-snapping, la-la-la-ingly fun album.
On "Secret Life" the band pulls out all the stops for a Prom-ready big ballad, complete with strings a la Burt Bacharach. Then in "Ugly Town" they crunch into a song so powerfully Help!-esque, you can almost hear the screams of early '60s fainting fans behind the oh-oh-ohs and buzzing guitars. And if you don't hear the Lennon-isms right off the bat, just consider the opening song's chorus: "please me, pretty please me/it's so easy, pretty please me." Echoes of "Please, Please Me," anyone?
The McDonald's aren't just having a homage party though. Even the most retro-sounding songs on Show World have their own edge and independence. Not that they have anything revolutionary to say. These are pretty basic I'll Always Love You songs (the very Off Broadway-sounding "Mess Around" promises "I don't want to mess around with anybody else") and You've Done Me Wrong songs ("You Lied Again" complains, in deceptively bouncing verse: "Because you lied/you said that you'd be nice to me/but then you lied again, to me, oh yeah."). There's even a song about a "Vanity Mirror."
Don't look for any deep thoughts or new musical directions from Redd Kross. But do expect a fast-rockin' familar-sounding, rollicking good pop time.
Hip-O Records has released The Tarantino Connection, a 14-song collection of songs used in director Quentin Tarantino's films. Opening with an interview clip of Tarantino discussing the importance of the right music for the right scene, the album then kicks in with the defining song of Pulp Fiction Dick Dale & His Del-Tones' instrumental surf guitar anthem "Misirlou." Urge Overkill's cover of "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" and Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" from Pulp Fiction also are included. Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle With You" from Reservoir Dogs and Cowboy Junkies' cover of "Sweet Jane" from Natural Born Killers are included as are tracks from From Dusk Till Dawn, True Romance, and Four Rooms....I don't usually review jazz in this column, but I received an album from a local jazz artist awhile back which I felt deserved a mention: Rob Ryndak's Moving Forward on Southport Records (312) 281-8510 finds the keyboardist composer fronting a classic jazz combo. It's a relaxing instrumental listen with horns and easygoing melodies.