Everyone knows about the famous `twelve steps’ to recovering from addiction. Not as many people know about the four steps to music addiction. These steps are not a treatment, however, but a path toward complete supplication to the affliction. (And should that last phrase be a band name by now?) It only works with particular bands (i.e. cheesy ’70s rock) and it goes something like this. Step One: Exposure / Initial Earworm: this step involves, obviously, the first few times of hearing a particular song and enjoying it. There’s an innocence about it as there are no real outside influences biasing your judgment. Take for instance the first time you heard Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” You probably knew that Journey had some radio hits, but the story of the small town girl and the city boy was just too compelling to ignore. Step Two: Overexposure / Revulsion: then came the Escape video game, the incessant playing of songs from the album, and too many upward angle shots of Steve Perry’s nostrils, not to mention the incredibly annoying Journey fans. Step Three: Passage of Time: this one goes without explaining. Like a broken love affair, this thing needs some time and space, baby. Step Four: Reintroduction / Final Embrace: and now, we have all fallen in love again with that song, haven’t we? We either have it pop into our noggins at inopportune times, sing along with friends or pick it as that rockin’ karaoke closer. It’s back with a vengeance and we aren’t kicking it anytime soon.
So why have I discussed all this? Merely to disprove it. Huh? Well, sort of. There are a few bands that transcend all of the above bullshit and go straight to the addiction phase. Zeppelin, the Ramones and the Kinks, just to name a few, have all been pretty damn cool, never falling into any kind of `lower’ status, and staying that way for years on end. Time is always the deciding factor, but I’d lay money that Brooklyn’s the Affair will fall into that same category. Somehow, this band already seems to transcend genre, trend and time. The entire five-piece gets the credit, but the linchpin is singer Kali Holloway. Many critics have noticed that Holloway can sound different from song to song, yet always with power and always with volume. They’re absolutely right. Holloway sings as if she is in a crowded room and wants to force you to make her the center of your attention. Luckily for us, once we’ve given that attention, it’s richly deserved.
Yes Yes to You is both the name of the Affair’s debut album and what fans will be saying to this band after they hear it. There are so many touchstones to the band’s sound that it’s difficult to know when one crosses over into another. The Affair blend these sounds effortlessly, combining the ’60s girl group sound with a ’70s pop punk and an ’80s rocker girl savvy. And that’s not even the half of it. On opener “Unwanted Company,” Holloway turns on the Poly Styrene while on “Wait for It,” she does her best imitation of fellow Brooklynite Pat Benatar. And let me tell you, it’s almost uncanny. And yes, in case you were wondering, Holloway rocks the stretchy skirt and the jelly bracelets at shows. Yeah, I thought that’d get your attention. The smoldering “Swallow the Nights” is one for the books, finding Holloway’s voice in yet another territory. Consider this track to be on my iPod playlist for the remainder of the year. “Andy” is what happens when Debbie Harry fronts the Pipettes.
“Anything But Disco” and “The Chase” throb with Casio-tinged goodness, putting Holloway into the role of Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons. “Tim’s Song” is an 80’s anthem that could have Holloway standing alongside Patty Smyth of Scandal, as if to say, `I’m a warrior, too.’ And if the Pat Benatar similarities weren’t obvious enough earlier on in the album, Hollway belts “I’m giving you my best shot” in “Jailbait Date.” It also happens to be the most tempting offer to underage guys since Liz Phair’s “Rock Me.” There’s almost nothing the Affair can’t do. In fact, I’d bet they’d shine on respective tribute albums to everyone from the Allman Brothers to Duran Duran. Above all, Yes Yes to You is a party from start to finish. Lyrics about teenage love combined with genre-hopping music and one hell of a powerhouse voice make for the start of a long-term addiction. This is one Affair I wouldn’t want to quit.
X-Ray Spex- Germ Free Adolescents
Blondie- Plastic Letters
Pat Benatar- Precious Time