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Rhythm & Views

Scene Creamers

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True story: Last summer, while traveling through the California desert, I was suddenly faced with not one, but two very large billboards advertising the latest hit record by everyone's favorite New York Dolls tribute band, The Strokes! And it got me thinking.

It seems that bands nowadays are too often rewarded for pandering to the lowest common denominator of instant success by pulling off all the right poses, while the element of originality in the music takes a backseat. For evidence, look no further than the aforementioned Strokes, Radio 4, The Liars, etc. Sure, they can rock, but aren't they just rocking to the beat of their favorite band's drummer? And isn't there something to be said for the special combination of originality and poses that makes new music so exciting? Lucky for us all, the Scene Creamers are doing something about this.

From 1995 to 2000, singer Ian Svenonious and bassist Michelle Mae's former band, the Make-Up, recorded and toured prolifically, showcasing their original blend of soul, '60s punk and class consciousness, complete with Maoist matching uniforms and an amazing live show that culminated in 1999's Save Yourself (K Records).

The Scene Creamers' debut picks up just about where the Make-Up left off and sees the band integrating elements of psychedelia into the equation.

Those lucky enough to be in attendance at their first Tucson performance a few months back will remember that, although the matching uniforms are gone, the same energy of a Make-Up performance was evident, including Svenonious' knack for relating the Communist Manifesto to indie-rockers and his Prince-on-caffeine-meets-Iggy Pop performing style. Fortunately, I Suck successfully captures this aesthetic.

Former Golden guitarist Alex Minoff's wah-heavy, psych-guitar riffs on the opening track "Better All The Time" and the closing "One Stone" are reminiscent of those found on such mid-'70s Funkadelic albums as Standing on the Verge of Getting It On and Cosmic Slop, alongside drummer Blake Brunner's simple, yet precise, delivery and Mae's repetitive and catchy bass lines. "Hey Lonnie" and "Luxembourg," on the other hand, are stripped down to acoustic guitars and have a slightly late '60s Velvet Underground feel to them.

As always, Svenonious successfully blends his radical leftist politics with humor (to the point of being almost silly) on songs like "Session Man," in which he ponders calling up an expensive studio musician in order to make the band's sound more commercial.

Fans of the Make-Up and newcomers alike should find this a nice alternative to all the shag hairdos and poses out there that are just mindlessly regenerating the same old stuff. Let the Scene Creaming begin!

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