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Original Sinners | review | punk | rock | Lollipop

Original Sinners

by Morgan Coe

X was always a hard band to explain: Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake are easy enough (they were really good at playing rockabilly, case closed) but Exene Cervenka and John Doe were another story... How do you make someone understand that a drunken front-couple who sang weird lyrics in deliberately off-key harmony were the key to the band's appeal? Luckily, Exene's latest project, the Original Sinners, will make your job a lot easier; think of it as "X for beginners." You've got a thundering drummer, a singing bass player, and not one but two pompadoured guitar heroes doing their best to fill Mr. Zoom's shoes. If anything, the band is tighter than X was, and certainly has more musical tricks up its sleeve - one of the guitarists pulls out a slide here and there for a distinctive bluesy feel, and Exene herself lays down a few idiosyncratic guitar tracks.

The downside is that a lot of the rough edges have been smoothed out in the transition: The rhythms are steadier, the guitars less frantic, the lyrics more straightforward than they were in X's heyday. Even the vocals sound tame; nothing makes you miss John and Exene's ragged delivery like hearing could've-been-X-songs like "One Too Many Lies" or "Pretty" with half the equation missing. Even when guitarist Jason Edge does his best John Doe homage on "Whiskey For Supper," there's just something missing. Blame it on too little chemistry, or too much maturity, but this is a solid, competent record played by musicians who are anything but desperate.
(7151 Warner Ave. F-736 Huntington Beach, CA 92647)

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