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Saboteur
Saboteur
End Sounds
www.end-records.com


On the band's website, Saboteur somewhat inexplicably list the White Stripes and Death From Above 1979 as their main influences. I hear neither group; to my ears, the most audible influence on this Texas trio is Queens of the Stone Age, with thick staccato riffs and clean fluid leads dominating about half of the self-titled debut EP's seven tracks. And while I'm no real QOTSA fan, the blueprint serves Saboteur well, with generally impressive results.

Lead track "Ignited" fulfills its title's promise, with a pummeling guitar and challengingly abstract lyrics involving "Undoctored variant light speeds/And a pot of rotted canned goat." "The Restless Rhyme" follows suit but ups the ante with a potent guitar hook and clever, obliquely political lyrics, sung by guitarist Justin Wilson and bassist Rob Marchant, who ably trade off on dual vocals. Later on the EP "Declaration On Dependence Day" offers the most direct Homme-age, to somewhat less effect but without entirely sinking to mere tribute.

Elsewhere Saboteur reflects punk influences, particularly on the Social Distortion update "Mommy's Little Anarchist," which takes a seemingly bad idea and makes good on it. The only real misstep on the disc is the insipid "Mission Keep You Here," which trades the band's usual dark and provocative lyrics for a cheesy pop-punk tale, complete with a melody shamelessly lifted straight from the Blink-182 songbook. Even at its most maudlin and derivative, though, Saboteur holds it together enough to deliver something better than, say, a typical Starting Line or Fenix TX piece of drivel.

On the basis of this debut, Saboteur aren't out to redefine music. But within the confines of punk-inflected hard rock, they offer songwriting more solid than most bands they're likely to open for. Here's to hoping they climb their way up to headlining status.

-Whit Strub

Track listing:
1. Ignited
2. The Restless Rhyme
3. Mission Keep You Here
4. Mommy's Little Anarchist
5. Le Saboteur Produit Son Couteau
6. Declaration on Dependence Drive
7. Poison Rum to Soak the Lungs


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Mike Doughty



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