What happened to realrock & roll? Bratty-but-still-smart, straight-outta-the-garage sounds of snarling sonic splendiferousness? Nasty, screaming guitars jacked up to there?Swaggering singers who ooze 'tude without falling into self-parody? Short, crotch-throbbing songs untouched by the cold, unfeeling hands of marketers, A&R departments and international conglomerates? Butt-ugly band members whose faces look like they've been dragged across miles of potholed asphalt?
The Teenage Frames remember, even if they're really not thatugly (though head warbler Frankie Delmane doeshave a questionable fashion sense—lots of see-through mesh T-shirts and big, shaggy coats that look like road kill scooped off a highway someplace).
But these ripe Chicago kids have got everything else down.Envision a guy—say, Delmane—belting out obnoxious, Mick Jagger-frenching-Billy Corgan vocals, bobbing along a sea of fantabulous two- and three-chord (if that many) Gibson and Fender riffs. Get a load of their new disc, 1% Faster, which they somehow corralled big-name knob-twiddler Steve Albini to produce. Indulge in the gargantuan power pulsating through tunes like "I Want to Go out Tonight," which sounds like a great lost Springsteen track, only with Johnny Thunders taking the Miami Steve slot. Be humbled by the awesomeness of "Here Comes the City," which out-Dolls the New York Dolls. Shield your eyes from the Armageddon death-flash of "Glitter Parade," a joyously raunchy, KISSesque romp that at once basks in the aura of rock excess and disses it ("C'mon, join the new clich!" Delmane blurts). And on "Dopesville," Delmane apes Jagger so convincingly you can swear you feel a wet, slippery tongue sliding up the side of your neck on its way to fellating your earlobes.
Their tunes aren't lyrically about anything special, but you don't care about that as much as what that sound of theirs offers: freedom, baby! 1% Faster is the sort of record (and we're calling them "records" here for old time's sake because it just seems to fit better) that the Stones desperately need to make again. It's a record that confirms the pop theorem that absolutely anyonecan start a band and—even better—proves that some people can actually be fucking greatat it.
Frames' guitar Buddha, Eric Vegas (likely nothis real name), admits they ain't exactly the most original thing out there. But when gritty, impossibly hooky guitar-rock returns—as it always must—they'll be ready.
Their main enemy are the cheeseball rap-rock acts currently stinking up the record bins and radio waves, Vegas says, relaying a tale of a recent run-in with a band that really wanted to be one of them.
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"I won't name the band, but we had caught their showcase once, and they pretty much sounded like the Verve Pipe—which was about a year too late," he says. "So by the next time we saw them, they had added a DJ and a rapper. I could just imagine them calling up a label that had rejected them before, saying 'Hey, come check us out now!' It was pretty sad and desperate."
"We're definitely all about being successful and making it ourselves, though," Vegas continues. "But even more important is doing it on our own terms, having 100 percent creative control and always working hard. That's part of the reputation we have in Chicago: when we play, we're gonna go rip some heads off, whether there are four people or 4,000 people there. That's a guarantee."
The Teenage Frames play with Mulch, the Creeps and the Fabulous Tuscaderos at the Gypsy Lounge, 23600 Rockfield, Ste. 3A, Lake Forest, (949) 206-9990. Sat., 8 p.m. $7. 21+.