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Tijuana Strip Club
Sparklers And Bottlerockets
Foggydog Records

When you take brilliantly disguised pop/country songs and force Leonard Cohen to sing them at gunpoint, what you get is Tijuana Strip Club. This album oozes brilliance at each turn. Soft and smooth darkly tinted vocals work their way effortlessly over glittering, sparkling musical soundscapes. The songs are cohesive, and the mood of the entire album is carried forth on the smoky voice of Randy Cordero, the principle songwriter/performer of TSC, and as far as I can tell, the man who put the album together and then created a band to support it. Not a new idea, but an amazingly well done one in this case.

Cordero's voice goes from Cohen smooth to Nick Cave gruff without a hitch. If I was to hear "Mercy Springs" playing on the radio or on a jukeboxin some seedy dive bar, I would be caught wondering what Bad Seeds record I had missed somewhere along the way. Complete with xylophone clanking along softly, Cordero arranges songs that showcase from where his musical influences undoubtedly spring. But the songs don't fit neatly into categories. "Hate The Sound Of Rain" is full of wide sweeping feedback and deep electronic rhythms. Not a single song sounds like any of the others, which is quite a feat among fifteen tracks! Each song is original in its own right, and they run the gamut from fairly straight dark alt-country to full on sinister electronica; never does a song miss a beat or sound like it doesn't belong in the company of the other songs. There are songs here for the goths, the hicks, the rockers, the beat-heads, the indie rockers, and just about everyone in between.

The music is amazing, yes, but the lyrical content of Sparklers and Bottlerockets is as strong, if not more so, than the sonic aspects of the record. From lyrics as straightforward as "I have never fallen in love before/ not like this before/ how unfortunately" to the uber-poetic "explosion, like fireworks fired on a clear night/ 'cause making up can always make us feel alright/ sparklers and bottlerockets make me think of you/ we just remind ourselves". The lyrics, whether complex or simple, are all delivered remarkably delicately, somewhat belying the depth and passion of the songs.

Short of going to San Francisco to try to track down this band, I suggest hopping online and finding this album. You won't be sorry you did.

-Embo Blake

Track listing:

1. Turnstile
2. Mercy Springs
3. Hapless Suitor
4. Hate The Sound Of Rain
5. Ghostride
6. Being In Love
7. Bottlerocket
8. Forsaken High
9. No Evidence
10. Last Words
11. Runs Deep
12. The Love That She Deserves
13. Natalie
14. Outline Of A Man
15. A Kind Word Is Never Thrown Away


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