» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Hot Hot Heat
Make Up the Breakdown
Sub Pop Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
If you're not fond of vocalist Kevin Rowland (Dexy's Midnight Runners) then you might as well stop reading this review, because Hot Hot Heat vocalist Steve Bays sounds like a North American version of Rowland. Recalling everything good about danceable late-'70s keyboard pop-rock like Elvis Costello and the Attractions, XTC and Squeeze, Vancouver's Hot Hot Heat are going to get lumped into the retro band category. They are cute, after all. But, whatever. I don't care if they reinvent the wheel, as long as they rock my ass for a good 30 minutes, and do it with a style all their own.

There are some seriously good songs on Make Up the Breakdown, with more edgy depth than your average pop-rock radio-ready band (say, OK Go for example). Comparisons to the Dismemberment Plan and The Faint are inevitable, but Bays' voice has more personality in one note than Travis Morrison can muster over the course of an entire album. Imagine a band with thrashing synthesizers and biting metallic Gang of Four guitars fronted by a singer with reckless abandon and pop sensibilities. Now teach that punk band how to dance, and viola, you've got Hot Hot Heat. Make Up the Breakdown recalls the quirkiness of Possom Dixon (anyone remember that band's debut?), the playfulness of The Clash's "Rock the Casbah" or The Cure's "Screw," the immediate accessibility of Ted Leo and the two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach of French Kicks.

If we lived in a world in which indie music ruled the school, "Oh Goddamnit" would be an instance radio staple. It has that bouncy Strokes-ish bassline that gets even the most bookish indie rock snob to shake his ass a little (in the privacy of his own bedroom, of course). It has stupid lyrics about nothing in particular - insecticides, losing weight, tax deductions--and a hook built around a curse word. It has a short and sweet drum fil--yes!--and a killer chord progression and a bridge that's as memorable as the chorus. "Oh Goddamnit" sounds like a long-lost Elvis Costello bootleg when he was still backed by the Attractions and the Attractions still had huge balls. It has instant energy from the word go 'til the word stop (2 minutes, 28 seconds if you're counting). I can see how some would hear this song, say it's catchy but cliché, and pass it off as shit. But then again, those people probably don't really like pop music. And if that's the case, so be it. Your loss. As for me, I can't get off this drug called Hot Hot Heat.

Reviewed by Doug Hoepker
A former staff writer for LAS whom we like to call Diggles, Mr. Hoepker is currently laboring away on various music-based projects. He now works in academic publishing (ahem), but is perhaps still best known by his DJ moniker, The Noiseboy.

See other reviews by Doug Hoepker



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