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Capitol Records

I didn't have the highest expectations for this CD. Hmm, I thought, young looking band with oh-so-witty name, on a major label and fronted by attractive female - Capitol is probably looking for a bit of video rotation on MTV2, maybe a track on an upcoming OC episode, and then drop 'em when the next corporate reorg comes around.

But how wrong I was ! This is an excellent slice of crunchy, poppy rock music, with nods to punk and glam. Folks who wonder where Elastica went wrong after their first record, are currently digging Visqueen, or even miss Veruca Salt, could do a lot worse than investigate this one.

Morningwood (ugh, still hate that name) are Chantal Claret on vocals (I suspect a nom de plume here since she doesn't sound too French), bassist Pedro Yanowitz (surprisingly an ex-drummer for The Wallflowers and Natalie Merchant, among others), excessively-named drummer John Paul Keenan O, and expat Brit guitarist Richard Steel (who was in Spacehog for a number of years). Claret is a real talent, able to go from raspy, Stooges-esque screaming to soft cooing and back in the same song, and an excellent songwriter to boot. The rest of the band are no slouches either; add needles-on-the-red production by the great Gil Norton, who has overseen masterpieces by my beloved Pixies and Echo and the Bunnymen as well as, ahem, the Foo Fighters, and you have a great CD that tips a hat to lots of classic influences and, most importantly, doesn't take itself too seriously.

Most of the songs are concerned with love and lust, a couple of particularly lubricious standouts being "Take Off Your Clothes" (which the band's fans have apparently taken to heart during shows) and "Babysitter", in which Claret laments not being able to "supervise" a toothsome teenager. This kind of stuff could fall incredibly flat in the wrong hands, but the band's sense of fun keeps things bubbling along nicely.

In summary, and without wanting to sound like I'm writing their latest record company press release, Morningwood's self titled CD is custom designed for cranking up in the car or jumping around to in your bedroom, even for those of us whose walking frames might be at risk. The band is touring the nation with the mighty Gang Of Four in October - I sure as hell will be there early !

-Gareth Bowles

Track Listing:
1. Nü Rock
2. Televisor
3. Nth Degree
4. Jetsetter
5. Take Off Your Clothes
6. Body 21
7. Easy
8. Babysitter
9. New York Girls
10. Everybody Rules
11. Ride the Lights

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