Local Wire

The Black Halos

"Retro World," from the Black Halos' debut, remains rock's most relevant self-critique six years after it was released. In it, grubby-voiced Billy Hopeless croaks, "Here it comes, baby, there it goes/It's getting harder to shoot my load/Nothing's really dangerous, just a retro world." Here was an anti-nostalgia anthem rendered in perfect shades of 1977 -- talk about serious irony. Nothing on Alive Without Control, the Vancouver quintet's third album, is quite as astute as "Retro World," but the song collection makes its case for unwavering nostalgia. By now, the band's Dead Boys/Heartbreakers glam-punk has been raked through the hipster mill and even appropriated by Juliette Lewis, but few have done it so indelibly. The guitars are meaty and infectious, the tunes straightforward, with a granite rhythm section, and, aside from a pounded piano in the raving title track, a familiar palette. The lowlife paean "Darkest Corners" is the best lyric, but "Unchanged" is the most apt: "They go through phases, like we go through cocktail glasses/The more they change it, the more I feel the same about it."
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Andrew Marcus