Wednesday, November 25, 1998

Get Down!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 1998 at 12:00 AM

When it comes to pop-punk, particularly from the San Francisco Bay area, it's pretty tough to rock outside the template that stalwart bands on that scene, such as the Mr. T Experience, have expertly cut from the rock cloth. If your band happens to share a label with MTX, forget about it! And say your band expresses the same certain nostalgic vibe for the innocence and pep of Mersey Beat-era British R&B (breathe here -- ed.) that garage punk elder statesmen such as Billy Childish have already articulated with outfits such as the Milkshakes and Thee Mighty Caesars 10 years ago. That's quite a small stylistic corner of the dance floor to move on. Luckily for fans of the above-mentioned name drops, SF's Hi-Fives have the kind of tight space moves that look stylish without a lot of space to boogie. It helps that the band sounds as much like the Kinks as the Buzzcocks, and walks the same thin, bittersweet line between love and hate in its lyrics as Messrs. Davies and DeVoto. There ain't too much original here except the effort and, fortunately, that's worth a half-hour of your life. If you've got gaps in your listening lineup that repeat visits to vintage 1964, 1978 or even 1996 -- the release year for MTX's master-pop-stroke Love is Dead -- platters won't plug, leave it to the Hi-Fives' mastery of boy-gets-girl-loses-girl-doesn't-need-girl-anyway-etc. two-minute tales, vocal harmonies, tight drum fills and choppy guitar rhythms to fill the holes in your romance-starved heart.

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