The artwork for the Go-Sheilas' CD Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (RemLo Productions) simulates the wear marks, split seams and cracked, torn cardboard of an old vinyl LP sleeve. It's the Orange County quintet's way of non-verbally communicating that the sounds within will throw you back to the pre-digital era—specifically, the first flush of punk and new wave in the U.S.
It may say 2008 on your desk calendar, but for the Go-Sheilas (and many other groups today), time ground to a halt during Reagan's first year in office. You've heard bands like the Go-Sheilas before, and you'll hear more like them in the future. Their presence is about as surprising as the preponderance of 7-Elevens in any American metropolis.
Lest that last sentence sound overly negative, let me hasten to say that the Go-Sheilas are one of the best proponents of that loud-fast-catchy brand of punk that comes draped in new-wave couture. Produced to a highly compressed, barbed sheen by the Go-Sheilas' guitarist Andy Fisher and played with chops tighter than your monthly budget, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 works your well-worn pleasure centers with maximum efficiency and quickness. I foresee many licensing deals to television and film ("Simple Plan" already has graced TV shows The Loop and Notes From the Underbelly).
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The 12 songs here—totaling 32 minutes—are as lean and fleet as those on the Ramones' eponymous debut LP, while Sheila Go-Sheila adds doll-cute dollops of vocal sucrose to the linear ramalama. The hooks in each tune are so immediate you'll be humming or singing along before the track even ends. It's as if Fisher—the Go-Sheilas' sole songwriter—has spent the past decade studying the masters of accessible pop punk and honed their tics into tight packets of euphoria as familiar and comfortable as your Vans kicks.
Greatest Hits Vol. 1 sounds calculated but undeniably skilled, uplifting and, you know, fun. But, honestly, the funked-up cover of Nena's "99 Red Balloons" gilds the lily.
The Go-Sheilas perform at Electric Chair, 410 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-0784; www.electricchair.com. July 8, 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/thegosheilas.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.