Listen Up: Wednesday, May 04, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
This Damn Town

Happy Fucking New Year (Self-released)

By Jimmy Fowler

The only possible explanation for the unflagging popularity of the electric guitar in pop music is an old theatrical concept: catharsis. Amped-up guitars can be — and often are — clumsy, repetitive, thoughtless, sloppy, hostile, undisciplined, and artless. But in the hands of an infernally inspired performer during a short, fast, compulsive workout — preferably with the garage door up to frighten the pigeons — the player manages to capture, express, and release a torrent of confusing emotions. Dallas-based This Damn Town is the latest ensemble for a group of veteran scenesters, notably out-front guitarists Alex Cuervo and Jeremy Diaz, who’ve participated in so many musical projects that their performances sound like valves for busy-sked steam. The title Happy Fucking New Year, like the seven runaway songs on this c.d., at first sounds aggressive and hostile until you let the rhythms sink in and realize that the tunes are — yikes! — as suited to merry mosh-pit dancing as finger-drumming on the table and jittery knee-bouncing in your seat: There’s at least as much pure glee as cynicism. It helps that Cuervo’s anonymous shout-outs, mixed low until they sound like audience singalongs at a club, are full of exhortation rather than recrimination. “Ghost Train” barrels out of the speakers with a special-guest-star harmonica arriving late in the tune to help tear things up. “I Wanna Die” infects the typical stray-cat strut with a case of rabid chords. The onslaught gets bloozed-up a bit with the ambling “Love Likes Lies,” while “Victim” manages to sneak a little groovy surf guitar into the formula. The punk ’n’ roll of Happy Fucking New Year nicely displays the ingenuities possible within the loud, hard, and heavy approach. — Jimmy Fowler


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