Friday, August 28, 2009

The West Georgian Week 2: Plexi 3 LP review

Artist: Plexi 3
Title: Tides of Change
Label: Bachelor Records
Release date: Spring 2009

Plexi 3, Milwaukee’s finest three-piece band, continues to crank out solid punk and garage-inspired pop with their first full-length L.P., “Tides of Change,” on Austria’s Bachelor Records.

The band features Wendy Norton on guitar and vocals, Adam Widener on bass and vocals and drummer Ryan King. Together they write two-minute garage-pop songs and play them live and in the studio with all the ferocity of yesterday’s punk and today’s powerpop bands.

The title track is the real gem here, as it is a great example of how the band mixes its influences to create a sound of their own. It features Norton’s vocals and nifty guitar playing, both of which are major selling points of the band’s first three singles.

Another Norton-fronted song, “Stop & Listen,” is a quick tour-de-force of punk goodness reminiscent of an earlier Plexi 3 tune, “Stabbing Fantasies.”

“Timebox,” a single the band released early this year on Full Breach Kicks Records and the last track on this LP, featured a nice surprise on its b-side in the Windener penned and sang tune “What Love is For.” The Monkees-inspired song was a welcome preview of things to come, as on this LP Norton shares vocal duty with Widener. He sings six of the album’s 13 songs, including an Everly Brothers cover and a sing-along with Norton called “Didn’t Really Matter.”

Norton still contributes heavily beyond her guitar playing on the songs fronted by Widener, as she adds surf-pop backup vocals reminiscent of The Beach Boys on “Heart I Had,” a song written by King, and plays piano on “’Til It Comes True.”

Widener’s vocal talents are not a surprise this time around, since the band let that cat out of the bag earlier this year. If there is a surprise, it’s “Little Vacation,” a pretty tune that’s mellow in a Joe Jackson or Helen McCookerybook kind of way.

Other highlights include “Menial,” a brutally honest assessment of the common worker’s life (“You’ll make enough just to get by/You’ll work for us until you die”) and “P.O. Box 9847,” a genuinely sweet love song (“Some say it’s a dying art/Sending mail from the heart”).

A quick glance at the liner notes might draw your eyes to a familiar name, as the band thanks Derek Lyn Plastic, a criminally underrated Atlanta songsmith. The band stayed at DLP’s place last summer when their vehicle broke down in Atlanta, and they were back at the songsmith’s home in May to contribute to a couple of tracks for his upcoming LP.

If you like garage rock, oldies or that old “Nuggets” compilation, do yourself a huge favor and pick up this LP/CD, as it is a fresh take on some timeless sounds.

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