Led by singer/guitarist Juliet Swango, whose sometimes screeching, always empowering female-vocal stylings echo the days of riot grrrl, The Rondelles are yes yet another Olympia, Wash., punk-rock four-piece whose music could be easily branded with the all-too-familiar Pacific Northwest indie-rock stamp and whose new album, Shined Nickels and Loose Change, could be simply written off as arriving too late (having missed the boat, as it were).
But a little '60s flavor, a cool, carefree demeanor and a lot of Black Flag's songwriting mentality (i.e. simultaneously sarcastic and simplistic subject matter that gets about as deep your kitchen sink) all make the new album too fun, jangly and rockin' to dismiss.
With high-pitched, ''60s-style beep-beep-beeps of a retro-sounding keyboard, "Shimmybecker" feels the way those knee-high vinyl boots that walk all over you look. "The Fox" 's dirty riffs exude a rougher, meaner feel and will likely compel you to play air guitar. Of all the tracks, the one that'll probably make you feel most nostalgic for Black Flag is "T.V. Zombie," with its shouted back-ups (think: "T.V. party tonight!/ T.V. party all right!"), playful hand-claps and silly lyrics: "He watches T.V. all the time/ How I wish he were mine/ I love you baby with all my heart/ And I hope we'll never part/ ... He wants the tube!/ He doesn't want me!?"
Seeing how much silly sarcasm there is on the album, you might expect The
Rondelles to cover Madonna's "Like A Prayer" with a twist that mocks, but it turns out to be very sincere. They sound as if they first imitated the Queen of Pop as little tykes, singing and dancing in front of the mirror, hairbrush in hand.
Shined Nickels is unpolished, garage-y punk-rock with an upbeat "fun fun fun" sensibility (even the occasional '60s girl-wants-boy melodrama is delivered with a playful wink). The Rondelles may not stand conspicuously apart from other bands coming out of that little, hip, punked-out, indie-rock community we call Olympia, Wash. But when you're listening to music as fun-spirited and roughed-up as this, who cares? Drink your Pabst Blue Ribbon and mix in, too.