Hold the Handclaps!
Photo by Jack Gould JOHN WILKES KISSING BOOTH
A THREAT IN THE BROADCAST
VELVET BLUE MUSIC
Deprived of the support of a full PR team, born without fantastically wealthy fathers, and cursed with sadly un-afro-able and thus unmarketable hair, it appears that the John Wilkes Kissing Booth is destined to never make it beyond the small gigs at DiPiazza's. And that's just fine with us. Their first full-length album, A Threat In the Broadcast, is a largely self-produced effort that perfectly captures their thank-god-this-almost-is-but-ain't-emo sound. If paired with a pro, chances are they'd be diluted into handclaps, drum-machine loops and unnecessary guitar intros; instead, the gimmick-free, unpolished Broadcastsimply rocks, stretching out somewhere between the brooding, guitar-heavy songs of Sunny Day Real Estate and the in-love-with-my-keyboard pop of the Anniversary. And Derrick Brown's vocals—at times undeniably Morrissey-like—are as unassuming as the music itself: listed in the liner notes only as contributing "voice" to the album, Brown sets himself apart from other would-be lead singers by not screaming simply for the sake of letting us know how e-m-o-t-i-o-n-a-l he is. Instead, his voice becomes just another instrument, highlighted only when the music says it's okay. As a result, the lyrics—by far the best part of the album—are given the full attention they deserve. Whether tragic ("I'll pray for your fire to last/man, it gets so hard sleeping here alone/the broken mix tape still rewinds me/are you sleeping there alone?" in "Don's Turf Motel") or slyly smart ("November loved Oscar/cries all night in whiskey/echoing one sentence/'Will my lost one miss me?'/X-ray all the wreckage/echoes major Charlie" in "Adios Miss November"), there are ample opportunities for in-car CD backtracking, usually while speeding and applying makeup 'cause we're late for work. Producers, take note: this band could be a godsend—if you remember to hold the handclaps.
OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.
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