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Research Turtles... Leading the New Wave Into the 21st Century
From the Petri Dish...
In many ways, these are not the best of times in the music business. Major labels are so busy shooting themselves in the foot that they have lost all direction, ignoring the music and signing sensationalism (Lady Gaga? Are they serious?). Rumor has it that U2 is disappointed in the sales of their latest release (Why? Millions aren't enough?) and the fickle public is following the lead of a limping media bent on their own destruction through creating realities rather than reporting them. I mean, remastered Beatles is still just The Beatles in spite of what Inside Edition and Access Hollywood would have you believe.
So pardon me when I get excited about four young dudes who are blasting their way out of the South with a sound reminiscent of the sixties (and the seventies, and the eighties, etc. etc.). Donning tennis shoes, thin ties and sport coats and hair a combination of Quicksilver's and The Searchers', they capture the very essence of what Greg Shaw and his circle marked New Wave back in the mid-seventies. Research Turtles are, I suppose, the New Wave of the New Wave and one can only imagine the likes of Shaw, Ken Barnes, Alan Betrock, Jon Tiven and even the master, Bud Scoppa, praising the likes of the band in the heyday of zines.
Without the zines, It takes the Internet and the likes of a sixteen year old girl, one Naomi Levine, to set us all straight when it comes to music these days. She says, "I like this band. They are fun to listen to and they are not a boy band." Outside of the fact that she references boy bands, which are not really bands at all (four or five guys dancing around onstage with earphone/microphones plastered to their heads do not a boy 'band' make), she hits the nail on the head. These guys are fun. The fact that they are incredibly good at what they do makes it even better.
Ladies & Gentlemen... Research Turtles!
Throwing Flames for Dollars
When Country Gazette named one of their albums, Don't Give Up Your Day Job, they nailed the future of music to the wall. Very few out of the thousands of bands and musical artists out there these days make money and if they do, they have to plow it right back into the band to stay afloat. Sure, the dream is there and success is possible--- just look at Green Day and the Dave Matthews Band--- but let's get serious, it doesn't happen as much as the media would have you believe.
Research Turtles have something to fall back on. Call it a day job if you want, but they are also The Flame Throwers. In fact, The Flame Throwers are the embryo of RT, a cover band exchanging hits for pay. God knows what they have to play to get gigs, but in my day it was Bungle in the Jungle and while the crowds loved it, it practically drove me insane. But these guys do it, or have done it. I cannot imagine them carrying it too much further into the future, though, not with originals like Let's Get Carried Away and Kiss Her Goodbye to rely on. They are melodic, familiar and yet original tracks--- the kinds of tracks which used to become hits. They do still have hits out there, don't they?
Pop with Power!
Of course, I mean hits for the music's sake. Admittedly, videos have become an integral part of the marketing of bands today, but without the music they would be nothing more than YouTube filler. Even with the music, most are just that. RT, though, is about the music as can be heard in the above videos. So let us talk about that music.
The new album kicks off with Let's Get Carried Away, the same version as in the video, but hardly stops there. Damn, the second track leads us further into the world of pop and, in fact, Power Pop. There is a difference. Power Pop takes all of the good parts of Pop--- melody, harmony, hooks--- and drives it home with force. Pop is unplugged in the sense that it is all about the song, and don't get me wrong, there is some mighty fine Pop out there. Power Pop, though, is as much about the presentation of the song. Crank up the guitar, add some crunching bass or rhythm guitar or overlay twelve-string and you could easily cross the line. There is a feeling there, if you get my drift, and for us Power Pop fans it can be Nirvana (no, not THAT Nirvana! Pay attention!)...
You get it in spades on their self-titled album. From the powerful Cement Floor to the beautiful power ballad Kiss Her Goodbye to the crunching and just-short-of-headbanging The Riff Song, these guys crank out track after track which would have had Shaw running for the presses to get out a special edition of Who Put the Bomp. It will make you dance, smile, tap your foot and, swear to God, if you have the Power Pop gene, laugh out loud. For dinosaurs like myself, it will even make you feel young again.
Partying By the Pool
The 'New' New Wave...
Many remember the New Wave as a succession of bands flailing beneath the surface of the rock of the era--- the Journeys and REOs and Eagles--- the minor leagues, if you will. Well, out of those leagues came some of the best known names in music today--- Big Star, The Shoes, The Knack, The Plimsouls. There are signs that the kids today get what most of us didn't the first time around. As disjointed as the music business is, though, it will not be looked upon as a 'wave' at all--- more a handful of bands with common musical traits.
Those traits are deeply embedded in Research Turtles. Keep in mind that besides the new album and an EP released in 2008, there is only the future. And as good as RT is now, I can only imagine what that future has in store. Greg Shaw and Alan Betrock have to be smiling, wherever they are. Jon Tiven, Ken Barnes and even Bud Scoppa, when they hear these guys, will definitely be. Smiling, that is. And maybe doing a little dance. Who knows?