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  Decked Out  
  Bang! Bang!  
  Morphius Records  
Release Date:
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Last year, in 2005, Chicago band Bang! Bang! released a nice 4 song EP called Electric Sex. Although it had something of a split personality, it was quite enjoyable and made me look forward to the band's future releases. Now, Bang! Bang! has returned with a full length, and it lives up to the potential of their earlier EP.

Opening track Days Are #'d is a highlight that begins with the semi-raunchy guitar sound that seems to characterize the band's sound. With alternating vocals between guitarist Jack Flash and bassist Gretta Fine, and crunchy guitars, Bang! Bang! immediately brings to mind a post-punk X, or (as I've pointed out before) a more minimal The Kiss-Offs. This guitar-based dance style continues with Falling, Falling. It is a bit more New Wave, and considering Fine's prominent vocal line, reminds me of Pylon, circa Crazy, or perhaps Josie Cotton. Still, it's a rollicking little tune that in combination with the opening track gets things off to a great start.

From there, the band adds a dominating guest keyboardist in the form of Rachael Shindelman for Creep Walking. The keys are a welcome addition to the track, as they add a slightly off-kilter and expected counterpart to Fine's vocals and the angular riffs. Likewise, the chorused, echoed guitar of Nervous Tic sounds off against a chugging, throbbing bassline and some cymbal-heavy beat keeping, courtesy of drummer Mike Wednesday. Afterwards, this gives way to the very angular Get Up!, which feels like a more frenetic The Close.

The next track, Sex Beat is one of the best on Decked Out. With a guitar riff and bass beat coming straight out of X's Los Angeles, Gretta Fine coos over top in a low-pitched, come-hither tone that is both quiet and sexy. It goes beyond the stereotype of electro-clash while still maintaining a dance-y edge. The rest of the album moves along from this pinnacle. Peeper features a dominating bass line and front and center drums that are accented by a oddly pedaled guitar. On this one, the vocals recall the early duets by Berlin, which is not a comparison you hear often. In contrast, (I Heard You Singing) On the Radio is really just a particularly rocking dance tune with pointed vocals. No Real World follows with a solid combination of Flash's forceful yelp, loud guitars and a bouncing beat.

The last three tracks on the album flesh out the qualities of the rest of the album. As an example, Daddy o' War shows off Fine's voice in a stuttering New Wave sort of way. Underneath, Wednesday's drumming and Flash's guitar-playing sound like old-fashioned rock-n-roll. This forms a neat contrast, and the two styles seem to strain against each other. Then, after a nice A Love So Fine, the album ends with the fun and different Undercover. This song begins with an acapella moment by Fine before the guitar and bass begin as one behind Flash's voice. It's an energetic and upbeat finish that shows off the melodic but angular qualities of Bang! Bang! as a whole.

With their first full length, Bang! Bang! has acquitted itself rather well. The band's energy and drive remain intact and without a lull throughout the album. And while the music isn't the most original or unique, the odd charm of Fine's slight pushiness and Flash's bravado is backed by both flair and musicianship. Having seen them in concert once previously, I look forward to hearing this translate well to a live venue.

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Tracers also saw Bang! Bang! in concert in 2005.
EP review: Electric Sex


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