Friday, February 1, 2008

The Busy Signals Are Really Really Good

I know I'm more than a few months late to this party but man has this record been hitting all the right Pure Pop buttons as of late. Chicago's The Busy Signals, not to be confused with the (boring) indie pop Busy Signals from the early aughts, have followed up a string of well-received singles with a near-perfect eponymous LP on the Dirtnap label. Fans of Dirtnap's most famous product, Guitar Romantic, will find plenty to love here, as well as anyone into bassist Jeremy Thompson's ex-band, the Carbonas (Columbus people may also remember guitarist Kevin from his stint with the Feelers, as he played guitar while Alecks stayed home on their Euro tour last Summer).
These guys nail down the opposite end of the mid-70's powerpop spectrum than did the Exploding Hearts though, playing 100% up-tempo, airtight punk with nary a bit of the trash they rolled around in. They're the pills and cocktails to the Hearts' cheap beer and glue. I'm reluctant to use the F word because singer Ana McGorty possesses such an androgynous voice, one without a ton of range but with enough melodic prowess and loose confidence to drop any dude's jaw; think Hynde with a two-pack-a-day habit. It's doesn't make them female-fronted or girlpunk the least bit, just a great punk band who happen to have a female singer.
There's 26 minutes or so of note-perfect playing here, but the songwriting is really what makes this record such a classic. Just when it seems every punker has gone weird-punk or shit-pop, the Busy Signals bring a batch of straight pop tunes that rivals the wonderful Radio Heartbeat reissues or, dare I say, Singles Going Steady. I sometimes wonder what this would sound like with a little more dirt under the fingernails; perhaps they could have left a little more to the imagination. Other times I imagine how freaking huge they could be - like, Green Day big, man - if they took and even cleaner route. But in the end I usually conclude that the production and playing are just right. Fantastic record.


Anonymous said...

It was actually Kevin, not Jeremy, who played with Feelers.

Doug said...

oops, thought i got some names mixed up. thanks for the editing, i need it!

LauraB said...

What is "girlpunk"? I don't think I like the sound of that.

Anonymous said...

get them while they are really hot, new sounds form mexico