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Rye Coalition - Curses Review

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The latest Proto-Punk revival often wallows in misunderstood excess. Too much critical praise, too many weak bands, not enough substance. As the genre is more or less a return to the roots of a popular genre, parallels to the Roots Rock movement and bands like the Drive-By Truckers or Wilco, can be made, but at the end of the day, that genre suffers many of the same maladies as Proto- Punk revivalism. What ends up scuttling these types of cruise ship musical movements is inevitably a torpedo of arrested development. How does one grow within the confines an ultimately nostalgic framework?

Rye Coalition, with its new album, Curses, answers the above question with a easy answer, "One doesn't grow." It's a good enough album to make a case that growth doesn't matter, but not a good enough album to head off the question: "Haven't I head this all before?" Of course, a certain segment of people will be drawn to Curses simply for its big name producer, Dave Grohl. Grohl shows up all over the album on backing vocals, guitar, percussion, and of course, behind the boards. Clearly, he's a fan.

Mixing the raw, loose, energy of the New York Dolls with a straight ahead metallic attack, reminiscent of AC/DC, Rye Coalition spares no bead of sweat in bringing on a furious attack of early Punk. "Young Yellers" lives up to its name with vocalist Ralph Cuseglio shredding his vocals chords in the choruses. They follow it up with an early Van Halen knock-off called "Clutch the Pearls" which the band had better hope Eddie Van Halen doesn't get an earful of, or the "Hot for Teacher" law suit will soon be pending. Still, some ferocious guitar work throughout pretty much makes up for it. "Secret Heat" conjures up visions of Angus Young, but steers a little more clear of outright plagiarism.

Rye Coalition makes a wonderful racket, and it's hard not to be drawn in by their premium grade shirtless guitar slaying and halfro-coifed image. Look at similar band, the Mooney Suzuki. The attitude is right and the songs are catchy as hell, but like the Mooney Suzuki, Rye Coalition feels too done-up. It's almost as if they're trying too hard. The band swaggers in the right places and they can play their asses off, no question, but they lack the intangible quality that makes a band like this go. The MC5 had the insane, edge-of-a-riot, powder keg waiting to blow aura about them, while the Stooges had the down and dirty, Detroit filth to keep them mean and dangerous. Even the Dolls had the excitement of a drag show and a drug binge. Rye Coalition is just a little too squeaky clean.

Besides some interesting song titles ("Between an I-Roc and a Hard Place" for example), Curses just doesn't possess much to recommend it if you're not already a fan of this type of Proto-Punk, call it Garage, bombast. However, if the MC5 do it for you, and you can spot heavy doses of Led Zeppelin lurking just beneath the surface of most of your favorite bands, Rye Coalition may be just the group for you. Be sure not to play Curses, though, if you're friendly with AC/DC or Van Halen's lawyers and plan to have them over for some rocking.


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Rye Coalition - Curses

Label:Gern Blandsten
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