Music News

The Liars Club

From the ashes of the Generiks rises the Liars Club, a sparky quartet of still young vets who believe in tri-chord pop churns that uphold the honor of groups like New Found Glory, the Ataris, Buzzcocks and even the Undertones. Though some things are sacred, even loaded with untold possibilities of profound pretense -- like using the Undertones as a reference point -- the Liars Club, astonishingly, comes away clean.

During the 1990s, the five-member Generiks coughed up four nationally distributed albums of crusty palmed punk rawk, and did seven cross-country tours; jaunts that saw pockets of kids in various scenes rally around them and jack fists into the air. The Generiks were, simply, one of the more quietly accomplished bands ever to have taken root in Phoenix.

If the Generiks were all hopped up on late-'80s punk, the Liars Club often sounds straight outta '77, the kind of music in which spirit and attitude are favored over perfection and polish. At times vocals grasp pitch like a kid straddling a rickety picket fence, while rhythms bash and clang along in a manner that would have done Terry Chimes proud. In all, it's a lovely thing.

"Weight of the World" heeds soured spirit, with a kind of post-Generiks autobiographical take on the idea of sinless kids taking on the world armed only with a few chords and the alacrity of punk ("Another broken machine/We were broken then too/I saw the pictures fall down/And my world wrapped around"). "Jimmy & Jenny," meanwhile, recalls the Undertones "Jimmy Jimmy" before switching midstream to an unlikely ska batter not heard since the Stiff Little Fingers' first. Coloring the buzzsaw landscape are plenty of gnarly vocals sung in unison that slide into quick harmonies, recalling late '70s pop-surf-punks the Simpletones. Halfway through this set comes an apocalyptic instrumental titled, of course, "Rocktropolis" -- a song that would sit well in any flick starring Rutger Hauer with a spike-topped 'do. The ironic hard-rock tongue-in-cheekiness of "My Cadillac" (featuring local saxman Alex Holland offering alto breaths) conjures up a psychic degree of -- believe it or not -- George Thorogood, proving that the members of Liars Club can be both witty and fun while still sharing a fondness for their older brothers' record collections.

An unflinching wide-eyed innocence streams throughout this self-titled debut. One can't overlook a couplet like "All our thoughts and all our yesterdays/We stay away so they won't find us," without feeling the blush. Brawny punk chords downstroked with bratty but innocent whimsy and telling lyrics like "C'mon baby, what's your specialty?" reveal that the boys only play at being tough. They would never really say that kind of stuff to the object of their affection. One gets the sense that it's all they could do to just ask a girl out for a milkshake. And that dichotomy, kids, makes for a good rock 'n' roll band.

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Brian Smith
Contact: Brian Smith