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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Robin Lane & The Chartbusters - s/t~, Imitation Life*

Name: Robin Lane & The Chartbusters
Album(s): S/T~, Imitation Life*
Year(s): 1980, 1981*
Style: Bar room Rock
Similar Bands: The Motels, Blondie, Pat Benetar, Pretenders, X,
"One-Word" Review: Blue Collar Rock
Based Out Of: Cambridge, Mass
Label: Warner Bros., Warner
S/T~ - Cover & Sleeve
S/T~ - Cover & Sleeve
Imitation Life* - Cover & Sleeve
Imitation Life* - Cover & Sleeve
S/T & Imitation Life Records

S/T~(1980)
  1. When Things Go Wrong 3:15
  2. It'll Only Hurt A Little While 3:14
  3. Don't Cry 3:26
  4. Without You 3:12
  5. Why Do You Tell Lies 2:57
  6. I Don't Want To Know 3:01/
  7. Many Years Ago 3:33
  8. Watin' In Line 3:18
  9. Be Mine Tonight 4:25
  10. Kathy Lee 3:28
  11. Don't Wait 'Til Tomorrow 3:32
Imitation Life*(1981)
  1. Send Me An Angel 4:35
  2. What the People Are Doing 4:48
  3. Imitation Life 2:59
  4. Say Goodbye 3:27
  5. No Control 2:38 /
  6. Rather Be Blind 3:31
  7. Solid Rock 4:23
  8. Pretty Mala 3:12
  9. Idiot 3:47
  10. For You 4:02

Album Rating (1-10) 6.0~
*5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Robin Lane - Vox, Guitar ~*(Neil Young)
Joe Wissert - Producer ~*
Asa Brebner - Vox, Guitars ~*Sleeve Drawings* (Jonathan Richman & Modern Lovers)
Leroy Radcliff - Vox, Guitars ~* (Jonathan Richman & Modern Lovers)
Tim Jackson - Vox, Drums~*
Scott Baerenwald - Vox, Bass~*
Peter Wood - Keys* (Dramarama, The Spectrum)
Rick Ruggieri - Engineer~
John Weaver - Asst Engineer~
Larry Rebhun - Asst Engineer~
Mike Reese - Mastering~
Mike J. Lembo Jr (Mike's Artists MGMT) - Direction~*
Peter Whorf - Art Direction~
Fred Valentine - Photograpy~
Eddy Herch - Design~
Gary Lyons - Engineer, Producer, Mixing*
Peter Thea - Additional Engineering*
George Marino - Mastering*
Peter Wood - Keys*

Unknowness: I’ve never heard of this band, but just from the 2 covers and their style and angular artwork, I am led to believe that they are going to be some sort of fun female fronted new wave act, even is the Chartbusters is a little pretentious. Just from the looks, a Blondie / Benetar combination would seem to be the style.

Album Review: “When Things Go Wrong” makes me thing right away of Tom Petty musically. Then deep, melodic female vocals begin. There is a dark urgency that is competing with the simple production (mostly the lead guitar’s light sound and lack of emphasis of the bass). The vocals are very emotional, and they are harmonically paired for the chorus.
“It'll Only Hurt A Little While” is a bouncy but poppy song. The vocals seem to demand dark production, but the music has a definite light, sparse feeling about it. This song could easily be redone in a country style, especially with the lead guitar solo in the instrumental break.
“Don't Cry” starts out with an easy going college radio style that reminds me of the Remembrant’s Friends theme. The chorus is an off key harmony of the title.
“Without You” starts out with a bit of a machine gun drum and lots of energy. The vocals continue with the energy until the chorus, but the music falls flat and takes a nap in the back seat. The chorus feels like a reboot of the previous track in melody & with its similar off-key harmony.
“Why Do You Tell Lies” goes back to country roots, but with a dark twist with the bass and deep vocals. This feels like it would be home in a smoky Midwestern small town pub.
“I Don't Want To Know” is a high speed and energy jittery pop rocking song. It is a Beatles song warped & sung through a blue collar bar jukebox.

“Many Years Ago” is a drums driven bouncy anthem. The vocals reminded me of World Inferno Friendship Society for a second, in their power and emotion, but the same comparison could be drawn to Pat Benetar too. You can feel the song build and rush through to the end.
“Watin' In Line” is a simple hook, country based, and about as monotone & boring as waiting in a line.
“Be Mine Tonight” starts with a Ted Leo sounding guitar lick. The song is building momentum from the stomp-repetitive guitar strumming. But the chorus does not completely alleviate the building pressure. The singing and music feel like a half attempt at making a strong pulsing song, or a bit over the bounds of a light rocker. It is swimming in an area between two distinctions and never seems to reach solid ground.
“Kathy Lee” is a ballad of sorts. Its sentiments seem more like a remembering of a friend than a lost or unattainable love. The song structure is that of a light power rock song: jangely echoing chords strummed and easy to identify time shifts.
“Don't Wait 'Til Tomorrow” is a medium paced driving song. It feels like it could be a the soundtrack to a film montage song for a kid who’s heading down the wrong path, and is second guessing himself / herself, maybe reflecting on the choices that led to that point of the film.

“Send Me An Angel” begins with a dark bass line, and the vocals are arty and deep yet feminie. The chorus is a dark, even deeper male vocal chant of the title.
“What the People Are Doing.” It is dark and cold enough that I would expect to hear it at Fluid’s Sex Dwarf dance party.
“Imitation Life” is also dark music for a polluted, industrial park area. It meanders on and howls with the wind, echoing in pain. Or so it seems.
“Say Goodbye” is a faster song, but the ringing and echoing guitar carries with it the same depressed feeling.
“No Control” is a ballad. It’s slow and mystical in feeling. The chorus is bold but sad, much like the Motel’s song “Only the Lonely.”

“Rather Be Blind” is more upbeat and fast angularly punk-poppy. Still, her vocals drag the mood down, despite the bouncy bass line. It is a song with a fun melody to follow along with.
“Solid Rock” also loses most of the doom and gloom, with this inspired, anthemic song. The bounciness of the guitar reminds me of an early Bjork band song called “Hrollur” by Tappi Tikarrass. “Pretty Mala” is a pretty song itself, with angelic female choir supporting the deep female lead (like a deeper Aimee Mann) in the chorus. This possesses a college radio jangely guitar. This really feels like the Pretenders, especially a less poppy “Good Bye to You.”
“Idiot” has a fun power new wave beginning. It has a sunny disposition in comparison to the rest of the album. Her singing ends with upward hooks, rather than dark, depressing notes. The hook that repeats over and over is a bit sit-com ish, but it is catchy.
“For You” is a good hand-clap-a-long song, with a bit of a slow motion surf feel to it. But as with the last couple of songs, the darkness has disappeared, and her singing is much more upbeat and optimistic; as are the instruments. The song feels like an REM song in the instrumental.

Stand Out Track: I Don't Want To Know ~
Rather Be Blind* 

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