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CD Reviews: Review of Popsicle by Diamond Nights
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Diamond Nights: Popsicle (Kemado Records 2005)

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The world is going through one of those “rock music is dead” phases again. It has been for a few years, actually. You didn’t think that whole phony garage band “revival” sound that limped out of New York a couple years ago was really going to make a difference, did you? Rock is dead, rock is dead. And how lame a song is “Long Live Rock” by the Who, anyway? Pete Townshend getting nostalgic in the ‘70s and doing it poorly then translates into even wimpier memories these days.

Kids these days need some bands of their own. Ever since the whole boy band thing came puking back on the scene, and lame “rock” acts like Limp Bizkit, Creed, Linkin Park, Good Charlotte, and all those other frou-frou bands who think they rock but really don’t arrived, there has been zero for the kids. Even worse is that “emo” crap where annoying pop punk groups with an adenoidal lead singer sing tunes about loving girls forever and how tough life is. Gimme a break. When you’re in your teens, you have no concept of forever; love and life at that time might be rough in spots, but once you get out into the real world, there’s real responsibilities, so enjoy it while you can.

So yeah, the kids need some real, honest rock bands of their own so they don’t have to always slide back into time and indulge in Led Zeppelin, et al. The kids may be in luck just yet because the group Diamond Nights (rocking out of…tada, New York, natch) is doing a nice little sound on their debut album Popsicle that is retro groovy enough for us older farts, yet also keeps its feet in the now so it doesn’t come off as a total nostalgia trip. In other words, rock isn’t dead just yet.

Diamond Nights have a lean sound of that classic guitar-bass-drums combo and a handful of greasy riffs to go along with them. The opening cuts “Destination Diamonds” and “Saturday Fantastic” are just the kind of things that could spark a mini revolution in the right direction if anyone is listening. Lead singer Morgan Phalen alternately growls and whips out a killer falsetto at just the right moments to get the point across. Now mind you, Diamond Nights’ version of retro often balances more on a rocking New Wave late ‘70s groove than, say, the aforementioned Zeppelin crunch. There’s more Jam and Sweet in here than there is Nazareth. And that’s a good thing.

It’s just that that lean sound loses steam slightly after those two killer opening tunes. “Drip Drip,” “It’s A Shokka,” and “Red Hex” all sound like they could use a little more fleshing out instrumentally. This stretch of tunes makes it seem like Diamond Nights are going to be another of those NY groups in it for the retro, but then things get back on track with “The Girl’s Attractive,” which is a nice chunk of sleaze that sounds smack dab in 1979. “Snakey Ruth” and “Needle in the Rice” also bust out the ear catching melodies and make Popsicle an overall winner.

It is nice to hear one of these bands come out and do a retro thing that doesn’t sound like everyone else’s. If anything, these guys could be another Urge Overkill sort of group, which would be more than welcome. It will be interesting to see where they take the formula and if anyone will bite for a second helping in this ever-fickle current climate of popular music. For the moment, though, Diamond Nights have a groovy debut here, with enough tunes to make your mp3 player happy.

~Jason Thompson 


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