Aloha! Go Bananas - The Spazzys (FUR/Shock)
There's a fine line between "timeless exponents of buzzsaw punk-pop" and "Ramones copyists" and on this, their debut album, Melbourne's three-piece Spazzys manage to be on the right side of it. "Aloha! Go Bananas" won't change the world, but it might rock yours if you're into tuneful, naive songs with an unaffected charge.
OK, we all know where The Spazzys are coming from and you can make endless comparisons in addition to the most obvious one, but cutesy pop played over a frenetic beat and fuzzy guitars always has an appeal around these parts.
It's been said before: You may as well pinch from the best. And these gals do. The single "Paco Doesn't Love Me" takes more from the Bruddas in 2min31sec than a roomful of bootleggers at a gig where the bouncers are on strike. It's as infectious as hell and at no stage do The Spazzys take themselves seriously (unlike a legion of similarly-inclined US bands plowing this same well-furrowed field). Even the Ramones swiped "second verse, same as the first" from Herman's Hermits, so it's not out place in "Paco" (itself an ode to the bass player from Italy's The Retarded). All up, I'd say the obvious plagiaristic moments are probably more likely to raise a smile more than a howl of derision.
If you're looking for a more precise steer as to how The Spazzys sound, cross Brill Building pop with the Blitzkrieg Bop and you're in the vicinity. "My Boyfriend's Back" is a staple live and it's done justice on CD. There are lots of tight, but not too slick, harmonies and the odd lightly-strummed chord to contrast with all those downstrokes.
The recording's more polished than the band live, not unexpectedly, and there's an obvious pipeline being laid to the teen market. I even saw the single promo'd on a weekday afternoon kids show the other week. It was a runaway winner on a jukebox jury type kids forum, with Delta and Brittany nowhere to be seen. But if "Aloha!" inspires a bunch of bored post-pubescent girls to do a PJ Soles, surely that's A Good Thing.
They might have supported the likes of the Powder Monkeys and Rose Tattoo but The Spazzys are never going to sound as dangerous as either of those bands or the (early) Ramones. The closest thing they get to sniffing glue or cooking up some Chinese rocks is "Cigarette", a song about a love addiction and, uh, tobacco. It'd be a travesty if they played it any other way.
Any band that sings a song about Marky Ramone's hair ("I Wanna Cut My Hair Like Marky Ramone") deserves your attention, if only to break the news to them that wigs don't need trimming. Hey, at least Alix doesn't needlessly embellish her drumming with meaningless fills, as Marky did his own on their recent Australian shows together.
The Spazzys will no doubt cop their share of barbs for sounding like they do or for being female. I'll bet they also tire of comparisons to The Donnas. I won't go there because I'd rate the home town trio a different and more interesting proposition, anyway.
Turn up your nose if you must but it's not pretending to be anything it isn't, other than good fun stuff - and just in time for summer (in Australia). Anyone for role models for a whole new generation of punksters? The Ramones never had a hit in Australia put the Spazzys just might. File next to their mates, the Mach Pelican.