Double the pleasure
Pooling their resources to get a joint album out, the shared debut from Southern California bands The Antique Row and The Red Ribbon Army offers an intriguing contrast in styles presented with a consistently high standard of production quality.
The first five tracks on what is basically a double EP are from The Antique Row, composed of Todd Griffitts and Chris Hanke (the band's MySpace.com account currently lists only Griffitts). It's moody, melodic pop a cross between the new romantic sounds of Spandau Ballet and the darker material of the Modern English or The Cure. Griffitts (as one might guess from the above comparisons) has a definite '80s sheen to his singing voice. But the songs are intriguing on their own merits, with the sort of urgent arrangements that makes you want to listen to each all the way through. A feeling that everything is a bit overly stylized does detract a bit, though.
Red Ribbon Army has the last five songs and a much harder edge to their music. The four-piece band plays a jangly, hard alt rock with huge streaks of punk running through it.
But their songs are no less addictive than those of The Antique Row: slick melodies, stellar musicianship, charismatic lead singer.
Different styles, yes; but both of these bands have a clear musical vision of where they want to go and the chops to get there.
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