Excessive Punctuation Marks
The two years since Gravy Train!!!!'s Are You Wigglin' have seen a flood of imitators the world over, each checking in with their own version of nasty, co-ed, genre-hopping party pop. But nobody does it quite as well as the original, and Gravy Train!!!!'s new All the Sweet Stuff is a magnet for big dumb grins, despite the knowledge it'll spawn still more wannabes.
Some still dismiss the band as a joke—what with the matching outfits, playful vocals and, of course, every dripping detail of the very sexual lyrics—but it's obvious these guys work damn hard and downright adore their campy workouts. And despite their dorky codenames—Chunx, Funx, Hunx and Junx—each juggle three to seven instruments and collaborate pretty democratically on the music and lyrics.
Production help comes partly from the Bay Area's soulful secret weapon, Sugar and Gold, whose recent Crème is as glossily fun as anything by Scissor Sisters. Their two songs on Sweet Stuff are among the album's best: the fizzy "Club Situation," with guest spots from VIP's Johnny Makeup and half of Junior Senior, and the sultry "Strip 4 Me," stuffed with X-rated come-ons that somehow manage to sound quaintly cute.
Also irresistible are the girl-garage pair "Solo J/O" and "D.A.N.N.Y." and the ragged, minute-and-a-half "Just Listen," on which Junx traces the trajectory of an exhausting bender. It's more serious than most Gravy Train!!!! tunes, whereas "The Hair Stare" is content to simply rattle off some choice styling advice (Hunx is a hairdresser by day). The well-trodden satire of "Frat Party" is a little too easy, but the closing "A Delicious Treat" is goofy, B-52s-ish fluff, making for a fitting bookend with the opening title track.
If at first Gravy Train!!!! sounds like all surface and no soul, you probably need to pay closer attention. Or you could just see them live, which is how every naysayer gets converted. It is party pop, after all, and there's only so much fun you can have dancing around your bedroom alone.
Gravy Train!!!! perform with Mika Miko, Sugar and Gold, and Japanese Motors at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (714) 647-7704; www.theglasshouse.us . Thurs., Aug. 2, 7 p.m. $12-$14. All ages.
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