Helpful hints for teenage rock bands (an excerpt):
Tip #47: Try to avoid attaching a moniker to your band that closely resembles another band’s handle. Think about it, only the Who / Guess Who got away with it, and one was way more popular than the other.
Tip #82: I don’t care how good you may be, or how cocky you are, never EVER name a song after a Beatles’ lyric. Even Elton John waited until about ten albums in before he covered the Beatles. Those brash bastards in Oasis who used to rip off the Beatles daily only named a song after an obscure George Harrison album. Don’t do it. It’s impossible to live up to.
Tip #93: Since you’re young, be young. Have fun. Remember, that’s what rock and roll is all about.
For Lonely H of Port Angeles, Washington, one out of three ain’t bad. With a name a little too close to Local H and a leadoff track called “Marmalade Sky,” this young band breaks two until now unwritten rules of rock, but they seem to somehow overcome these transgressions to make a solid debut in Kick Upstairs. The biggest things going for the band are a great respect for songwriting, their `skate rat’ charm, and youth (meaning they are impressive for their age and can only get better). I am reminded somewhat of Silverchair back in 1995 when they were dubbed the pubescent Nirvana. Lonely H is somewhat the pubescent Weezer, writing songs about young love and video games instead of young love and role-playing games. Hell, they even have some Orange amps and a lightning bolt guitar strap.
Even though “Marmalade Sky” is named after a Beatles lyric, the song is more of a Weezer soundalike with vocalist Mark Fredson sounding like a dead-on Rivers Cuomo, especially in the `whoa’s’ toward the end of the song. It’s as if these Northwestern, non-beach living kids wanted to do their own “Surf Wax America” about playing Frisbee. Other songs share the same Weezer-envy feel such as “Ken” and “Electric Change.” Generally, if you dig the “blue album,” you’ll groove on these tracks. But it is in their slower songs that Lonely H truly shines. “Lullaby Lane,” a mix of Paul McCartney / Beatlesque piano pop and Brian Wilson / Beach Boys harmonics, and “Sweet Madeline,” a touching song of young love, are standouts, showing that these sixteen year olds are wiser and more mature than their years.
I’m sure these lads have learned that the easiest way to get girls is to be in a band. They’ve had screaming girls at their local Port Angeles shows, and have started to branch out into other Puget Sound venues thanks to a runner-up placing in the EMP Noisefest battle of the bands. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Fredson resembles a young River Phoenix. Plus, these guys have managed to make playing the piano and cello pretty darn cool, proving that they use every asset to their advantage. Can you play the cello, Brian Bell? I didn’t think so. Oh snap! Closers “Simple Love” and “Zelda” are sure crowd pleasers with the former featuring Fredson’s finest and most earnest vocal performance (making it the most Top 40 radioworthy), while the latter is the Nintendo rocker that combines youthful energy and epic songwriting chops, kind of like teenage Queen or ELO. It’s really something when, after Fredson gives up the silly falsetto, the song picks up steam and starts kicking ass all over the place.
Included with the CD of Kick Upstairs is an accompanying DVD which features the band in live performances and candid interviews. While some may think that including a DVD is somewhat arrogant and `far too soon,’ the mini-documentary actually adds to the experience showing a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously, its members endearing themselves to their audience, and living the rock and roll lifestyle dream. The great thing about the Lonely H is that they don’t forget unofficial tip #93, remembering to be kids and that rock and roll is about fun. Oh, and about getting chicks.
Weezer- Weezer (Blue)
Smashing Pumpkins- Siamese Dream
Nada Surf- High/Low