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Monday, July 15, 2013

(the) Cretones - Snap! Snap!

Band: (the) Cretons
Album: Snap! Snap!
Year: 1981
Style: Power Pop, Americana New Wave
Similar Bands: Bryan Adams, Marshall Crenshaw, The Knack
"One-Word" Review: Misproduced-Power-Pop
Based Out Of: Los Angeles
Label: Planet Records, Elektra/Asylum Records
Snap! Snap! - Cover & Record
Snap! Snap! - Back & Record
Snap! Snap! (1981)
  1. Empty Heart 3:33
  2. Hanging On To No One 3:44
  3. Swinging Divorcee 3:37
  4. Lonely Street 4:11
  5. I Can't Get Over You 3:25 /
  6. One Kiss 2:41
  7. Love is Turning 3:15
  8. Girls! Girls! Girls! 3:48
  9. Snap! Snap! 2:42
  10. Mood Vertigo 4:05
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Mark Goldenberg - Guitar, Vox (Pointer Sisters, Linda Ronstadt, Eddie Boy Band, Jackson Browne, Eels, Hugh Laurie's Copper Bottom Band) 
Peter Bernstein - Bass, Vox, Producer,
Steve Beers - Percussion
Steve Leonard - Keys, Vox (Walter Holland)
Gabe Veltri - Engineer, Recording, Mix
Doug Sax - Mastering

I’ve never heard of the band. But I like the color schemes and the geometric artwork on the back. There are Chinese accents with the font and the dragon on the front. The artwork on the cover is interesting, and real, what made me want to hear the album. The dragon snapping along to a boom box (presumably) playing their music gives a somewhat juvenile air, but at the same time, a focused intent to the band’s musical focus. I’m excited to see how angular/poppy this album is.

Album Review:
So the fellows in this band had moved on to bigger, and better and more popular things, like contributing music to Linda Ronstadt’s “punk” album Mad Love, and Mark writing Automatic for the Pointer Sisters, and “Novocain for the Soul” for the Eels as well as playing guitar for Jackson Browne. Peter and Steve B wrote the 21 Jump Street theme. Steve B has been producing TV and Peter’s been prolific in film & tv scoring.
“Empty Heart” has a very middle America, JC Mellencamp or Early Bryan Adams feel to the song. It is driving and stressed out. It is catchy, but not that memorable.
“Hanging On To No One” sounds just like any Marshall Crenshaw. It is jangly pop with a repetitive chorus that gets boring with repetition, rather than catchier. It has an emotional core, but I just don’t really care about the emotion. Even the organ, usually a nice addition to nervous new wave is toned down and smoothed over, coming across as muddled and overproduced.
“Swinging Divorcee” sounds like the Blasters. Americana Rock n’ Roll. It builds nicely, but it too falls flat in the production. The vocals seem a little jittery, but again, don’t offer that memorable punch. The vocals sound like any number of singer song writers. There is even a sax added in the instrumental, but again, the whole sound is flat.
“Lonely Street” is a soft, side to side swaying piano ballad. The steady, repetitively played piano chords give an urgency that lies just underneath the sad guitars and bass front.
"I Can't Get Over You” heads back into what I’d consider a sleazy power pop sound, with big guitars in the beginning that give way to a bouncy rhythmic chorus, which returns to the arena rock powerful chorus. The chorus becomes more emotional as the song progresses, as if the singer’s realizing more and more that he’s gonna need to get over his mate, which makes it that much harder.
“One Kiss” brings back the straight forward Marshall Crenshaw power pop song that feels like it is a dime a dozen song. Again, the production feels flat for most of the song, and except for the emotion, that is nearly a glam exclamation of the chorus.
“Love is Turning” breaks the mold set before it on the rest of the album. It feels like a more down to earth and focused power pop song. It is not as bold and bombastic, yet at the same time it is not trying as hard, which in this case is a positive. The production lets the melody take the song along rather than over-smoothed or poorly mixed instruments. There are numerous minor twists and turns with the melody, but it doesn’t feel forced or overly complicated. This is a solid Power-Pop song.
“Girls! Girls! Girls!” is the best song on the album. It begins with a great synth keyboard sound that sounds very Atari video-game-ish mimics an alarm in its revolving repetition. The power pop guitar is aggressive, but plays short choppy notes to make up the hook. The excitement and glee comes through in the happily sung chorus, which is catchy and exciting to anticipate. It reminds me a little of INXS at times. It has a nice fake ending that comes back in with the chorus. It could really be produced more sharply, accenting the highlight hooks of the song, but it still shines brightly enough on its own.
“Snap! Snap!” is an instrumental that starts off sounding like it is going to evolve into a mellow Fountains Of Wayne song. After the first section, it slows down into a micro-focused keyboard section that is slightly jittery, but really gives bridge to a prog/power pop electric guitar section.
“Mood Vertigo” abruptly jumps head first from the instrumental into a soaring electric guitar Bryan Adams style driving pop song. It again has a slightly jittery quality that could really have been enhanced if the vocals were not so echo-y and engineered differently. The chorus is repetitive, and has a very Foot Loose motivated quality to it.

Stand Out Track: Girls! Girls! Girls!


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