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  Club Awesome  
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Club Awesome is a four piece from Atlanta who have been playing around the local clubs for several years now. Having a reputation for being energetic and lively in performance, over the years, the act has also brought an element of silliness to their shows with the inclusion of an above ground swimming pool and of course, the "White Tiger" (really, it's more of a mint green) costume occasionally sported by lead vocalist Errol Crane. But these visuals would not necessarily be as entertaining if Club Awesome couldn't back them up with good music. Luckily for them, they do, and combined with afore-mentioned mayhem, have made Club Awesome's live shows some of the best in the city, filled with people dancing and singing along.

Yet, prior to the release of Dynamos, one was left to wonder whether this very accomplished live act could sustain their energy and musicality in the relatively dry environment of the recorded medium. The first track on the album, 2875, puts any concern to rest with its exuberant hi-hat cymbal-driven beat and bouncy keyboard melody. From there, the band moves on to Feel It! which again has that infectiously poppy beat, although, in this case, the song is held together by the interplay between the keyboards and the intricate-sounding bass work. Over it all, Crane sing-shouts the quick-paced lyrics, which only enhances the intensity of the song. At that point, the band slows things down to a moderately blistering pace with Josef Stalin, which again features that phenomenal bass work, only this time working in concert with a nicely done guitar lead. But the beat seems to pick up pace in the middle, as if to draw the listener back into the musical dance frenzy present in the earlier tunes. Taken together, these three tracks represent so much of what is good about Club Awesome: driving beats, intricate but accessible melodies, and quickly phrased lyrics that emphasize the quickness and intelligence of the band. In short, this is music perfectly designed to get Indie rockers dancing; think of a band like Oh No! Oh My! (or a Bang! Bang! without the dirty sexuality) and you're in the correct musical territory.

After this opening, Club Awesome continues with the same pace courtesy of the guitary Whyte Tyger, with its "do do do" vocally interlude and the Bowie-esque Halving / Having, complete with a falsetto and handclaps. At this point, the band veers a little into The Housemartins territory with Supermagical, a tune whose guitar riff always reminds me of The People who Grinned Themselves to Death. More importantly, this song is quieter, more jangly, and played with a lighter touch, so that the vocals are more present in the mix. However, it maintains the quick, happy beat and the toe-tapping lilt which characterizes Club Awesome's sound. It is perhaps ironic, then, that the best (or even the most magical) moments on Dynamos immediately follow.

Put simply, the next song, Trainwreck is one of the two highpoints of the record. Beginning with a simple set of handclaps, it stays in the slightly quieter, more delicate vein of Supermagical with understated, jangly guitars mirrored by the lower bass line. Over it all, Crane and the rest of the Awesomes veer into an Indie sounding version of something that could be by The Supremes, complete with alternating backing vocals and higher-pitched harmony. I think this nod is deliberate, considering that the lyrics overtly reference Diana Ross and include the repeated line "You keep me hanging on". Still, the band plays with expectations by including a louder, quicker chorus before falling back into the more gentle verse. It's a great piece of work with the combination of rhythms, sound, and clever lyrics, and would be the natural highlight for most albums.

However, Club Awesome aren't done yet, because Trainwreck leads directly into the frenetically giddiness of the album's best tune, BBs Go Out Into the Night. Beginning with a shout, this song features a nice jangly guitar that sets off the bass-driven melody as the Crane yelps through the lyrics before contributing s remarkably simple but effective, spaced-out keyboard run. Throughout the tune, the music builds and builds before finally the band counts out the number of pumps one might needs for the afore-mentioned BB gun. It's a fairly simple song, but one whose almost irrational exuberance infuses the listener with the urge to shout along by the end. In concert, this has always been a bit of show-stopper, and it's amazing how well it translates to record.

After the catharsis of BBs Go Out Into the Night, Club Awesome returns to a poppy jangle with Dolphins, which reminds me a little of Saturday Looks Good to Me, circa Every Night. From there, the band moves on to Something to Hold On to, which feels a bit like The Medication's Gone by The Deathray Davies, complete with echoed guitars and straight-forward, non-syncopated drum work. Then, the album drives towards its finish with the introspectively retro Give It All Up with its Pain-like vocals and the electro-clashy Sensual Massage, before ending in the quietly gentle acoustic tune When You Were Down.

From beginning to end, Dynamos works so well because it presents a sound that has some modifications (most notably on the final track) but essentially remains coherent as a whole. Likewise, the album also captures the energetic Indie pop-dance feel that Club Awesome has perfected in its live shows. Taken as a whole, and without a bad track in the bunch, this combination makes Dynamos one of the best releases of 2008.

Related Links:

Club Awesome MySpace:
Also on EvilSponge:
   Concert: Fri.31.Mar.06
   Concert: Sat.16.Sep.06
   Concert: Thu.19.Oct.06
   Festival Performance: Corndogorama 2007, day 2
   Concert: Sat.19.Apr.08
   Festival Appearance: Corndogorama 2008, Day 4 on Sun.29.Jun.08


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