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Gigolo Aunts – Minor Chords and Major Themes

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

E Pluribus Unum Recordings, 1999

When you like a band once, you keep checking to see if you still like them.  I truly enjoyed “Flippin’ Out” so their follow up record was a must spin for me.  Even if I hadn’t heard of these guys before, the retro album cover with the purple trim is certainly grabbing.  However, showing pictures of contented dudes in a studio screams light music, so anyone else who was willing to dish out the dimes and nickels to hear what Gigolo Aunts were about probably left the hard stuff on the shelf and poured some lemonade as they popped this disc in the player.

The early part of this Boston pop group’s third record can easily turn off some of the more grounded listeners.  The overwhelming positivity of “C’mon C’mon” will give many people a toothache with its sugar impact.  The lyrics of “C’mon c’mon/can’t you feel something going on?” get repeated effusively and, aside from a few bits here and there, they are the only lyrics for the song.  What kind of a tune is that?  Then there’s “Everyone Can Fly” whose title made me gag just by reading it.  Who titles a song that sounds like it was lifted from Sesame Street?  It’s a much softer song in sharp contrast to “C’mon C’mon”, so I am not sure what the point was in getting everybody in a sky high mood only to douse them with light guitars and melancholy vocals.  So yes, the album starts off a bit awkwardly.

The tunes get back to more vibrant pop with “Half a Chance” and “Super Ultra Wicked Mega Love”, though the latter has a few power guitar riffs that heavily remind one of the early to mid-nineties, never mind the late nineties.  As the album quietly slides into “You’d Better Get Yourself Together”, Dave Gibb’s high vocals become very noticeable.  Five tunes in he’s gone from singing with exuberance, singing with balanced aggression, and finally to an absolute feeling of soothing gentleness.  It’s on “Together” that really makes Gigolo Aunts stand out as not just another power pop band.  Gibbs’ vocals help, but the sharply contrasting composition styles give an impression that Gigolo Aunts aren’t going to be predictable for thirteen tracks.

The best track, “The Big Lie”, could have been a big radio hit if it got out of Boston.  Well, and if boy bands and teenage pop princesses didn’t rule the airwaves at that time.  The tune has an urgency during its chorus, which turns out to be Gibbs’ profession that he’s not the right guy for whoever it is.  This is also a song that got stuck in my head for a few days, probably because it actually built up the adrenaline during that aforementioned chorus.  The band doesn’t let up for too long before “Rest Assured” bursts out a few tracks later.  It’s almost as if the band knew their listeners might be nodding off at this point to include two really strong power pop tracks so close together.  The reason is quickly apparent, however, when the last few songs resemble a steep decline into the nice soft pillow that is “Residue”.

Listen to a few tracks by Gigolo Aunts on their MySpace page if you need a power pop shot in the arm.

My body got the shakes from listening to this record, mainly because its energy level got jerked around so much.  I went from snapping the fingers, looking forlornly at a sad puppy picture, swiveling rabidly in my swivel chair, and then passing out.  These songs are everywhere, which can be very frustrating if one wants dwell on a particular side of Gigolo Aunts music.  I personally liked the group when they were energized, but I felt that they sunk too much into the lightweight stuff so that any sort of momentum was quickly eradicated.

Gigolo Aunts did manage to put out one more record in 2002, but the pop band called it quits after a decade of power popping.  It is too bad that their sound is no longer with us, but perhaps they went the way of the Gin Blossoms when they realized everyone (sadly) was listening to nu metal or throaty pop songs.  To think that if they had only stuck around for eight more years they could have caught on the Train bandwagon and sugared us over with crappy songs.  Except they wouldn’t be crappy, for despite my misgivings with the numerous soft tunes I still think that Gigolo Aunts are a great band.  Definitely check them out on 1994’s “Flippin’ Out” or even this album.

Teachers Pet – S/T

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Smog Veil Records, 2008

Well, what do you want me to do, huh?  Do you want me to ignore this kind of stuff?  I don’t see how.  There’s the Amazonian half-naked woman standing front and center that, even though she’s not paying attention to me, I’m sort of afraid of her.  Then there’s the poor chap who is getting strangled by a dog leash.  Actually, perhaps he wants to be strangled by a dog leash.  As they say, you don’t know until you try.  What I probably won’t try no matter what are the bright pink skivvies that guy is sporting in this encounter.  All in all, when flipped to this record in a dollar bin on the west coast I felt like I was intruding on a scene I had no business seeing.  And yet, since the price tag was right, I considered myself obligated to pick the record up and stick it in my seedy, lower rung of my CD tower.

So wait a minute, what has any of this to do with the music?  You would think that every song had the words ‘obey’ or ‘submit’ in it, but it turns out this record is by an old punk band from Ohio.  Teachers Pet had a very short stint in the late seventies doing a pretty good Damned impression except with keyboards and, er, erotic record covers.  All songs were originally recorded in 1979 and yet no album was released at the time.  Therefore, this record is essentially the first full length release of a band that had disbanded 28 years ago!  Truth is, it’s a pretty good collection of old punk even if you’ve never heard of the band.

Teachers Pet consists of four guys in striped shirts that deal out some raw, straightforward punk that was typical in those days.  The wavering keyboard intro on “Don’t Need You” certainly isn’t found too often in early punk, yet it became an integral part of the song once the band started thrashing around during the verse and chorus.  “Hooked On You” is more along the lines of the aforementioned Damned influence, and its sense of infatuated immediacy no doubt made it the obvious choice to declare as the band’s one and only released single at the time of their existence.  The cheerful rocker “Meet Me at the Hot Dog Stand in Half and Hour But Don’t Tell Your Dad” has a title that was lengthy before all the indie artists got clever with such maneuverings thirty years later.  As the record reaches the halfway point, the band breaks into a few pretty good covers like the Sex Pistols’ “Lonely Boy” and “I’m Henry VIII I Am”, which was made famous by Herman’s Hermits.  With some solid live tracks thrown on the end, this turns out to be a very enjoyable record that kicks out in less than an hour.

Needless to say, this is likely a one and done release for the old punk band unless they’ve got a slew of B-sides they’ve been holding out on us.  However, that really is up to the band themselves.  A few of the original guys have recently gotten back together and are currently touring in Ohio … and only Ohio.  If the masses in Ohio want it and the band still has some steam left in them, who knows?  Maybe we’ll get another record from these old punkers after all.  While we wait, if you’re looking for a taste of old school punk but can’t be bothered with some of the make shift reunion tours, take a trip out to Akron, put on a striped shirt, and watch out for tall women.