Robbers on High Street
“Fine Lines” EP
by Scott Stetson (MaxPower324)
Newcomers to the “neo-garage-proto-punk-whatever-they’re-calling-it-these-days”
movement, Robbers on High Street, like many of their contemporaries draw
heavily from early New York and Detroit punk bands like Television and
MC5. The new trend in this style of music is to also incorporate
elements of new-wave and dance. There are some Clash-sounding elements
in their songs as well.
The “Fine Lines” EP (New Line Records)
is the first major label release from the Robbers on High Street.
Their strong point is definitely in their hooks. The first two songs,
also the most stand-out tracks on the EP, “Hot Sluts (Say I Love You)”
and “A Night at Star Castle” both exemplify their ability to write a catchy
The weakness of the EP is that even though
the songs are only between three and four minutes long, they all seem to
drag on near the end. This is probably just because they repeat the
same riffs over and over again. The Robbers need to spice up their
songs with some variations, tasteful (but small) guitar solos, bass scales,
more keyboards, vocal harmonies, different time signatures, ANYTHING to
break to monotony.
The lyrics are, for the most part, generic
and impersonal. Lyrics don’t have to be earth-shattering to be good,
but common and over-used phrases should be avoided. They should take
a cue from The Jesus & Mary Chain or The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion,
who both prove that lyrics don’t necessarily have to be personal or even
make that much sense to be interesting.
And is anyone else tired of this “garage
throwback” stuff? Too many bands out there, even underground ones,
are relying on gimmicky trends to sell records. The Robbers do an
alright job of adapting this style, but at the end of the day, the New
Pornographers out pop-them, Interpol out-new-waves them and Hot Hot Heat
out-dances them. They simply don’t have the edge that makes those
bands stand out from the now massive and ever-growing crowd of neo-garage
bands. Since the Robbers have at least proven with “Fine Lines” that
they can pen a catchy, straight-forward rock tune, maybe they should avoid
the gimmicks and stick to what they are best at. The Robbers on High
Street don’t have to be a bargain-bin Strokes. Turning in the direction
of early Phantom Planet or Eels might not be a bad idea because it would
showcase the Robber’s strengths better than just following the crowd does.
It is hard to pin down the Robbers because
this is their first release, and it is only twenty-two minutes long.
They have a pop-sensibility to them, and hopefully they can learn from
their mistakes and build on the strengths of their debut when they release
their first full-length album next year.
Website - learn more about the band
to samples and Purchase this CD online