Mongrels - Oshawa
It is always hard to tell if bands whose sounds so borrow liberally from bloated 70's excess are truly paying homage or wasting tape on one long hipper-than-thou exercise. At some point ironic jabs at the past don't work without something to call their own behind it. So are Mongrels really giving props to Led Zeppelin, Rush, ABBA and Queen on "Oshawa," or are they spending too much time trying to be cool?
Certainly, the band has the genre down: all tunes here feature soaring dramatic vocals, prog-rock guitar riffs and sweeping keys, pretentious and silly lyrics. So are tunes like "Contemplating the Wizard" or "Needs Got Needs" for real, or smart-ass and pointless? I keep asking questions because it is hard to know. The band certainly has the chops and the knowledge of retro forms to pull of a sound that would fit in fine on AOR radio circa 1978. They even have two drummers!
Vocalist Amy Dynamite (named after the 70s teen rag "Dynamite"?) packs a wallop, sure-handed at delivering the tunes with convincing moan and grrr. They band also seems to have a rep of being hot live, so maybe my fears are misplaced. But there is still something a little too slick and hip about "Oshawa" for its own good. I sure do hope these Montreal faves are on the route to retro-inspired, "Alive II"-type fun, and not tripping down the smug path of the hipper than thou. We've all been Kravitz'd enough.
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