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Album Review

Yet another new band on the great Pacific Northwest label Dirtnap Records that recalls the glory days of the new wave, Austin's High Tension Wires play speedy, brief little three-chord punk-pop songs with strong echoes of the pre-Knack Los Angeles power pop scene (now nearly forgotten bands like the Last, the Quick, the Pop, and the Nerves, the last of which spawned the Plimsouls, the Paul Collins Beat, and Blondie/Paul Young songwriter Jack Lee). Send a Message is not a particularly retro album, however. Singer Mike Wiebe delivers every vocal through a miasma of megaphone-like distortion, which may or may not have been a conscious artistic choice. (The album was recorded quickly and on the cheap as a rough demo, released by Dirtnap while the band's four members are separated by circumstance: primary songwriter Chris Pulliam and drummer Jeff Burke currently live in Japan, and Wiebe's main gig is with the Riverboat Gamblers.) The rough and ready sound mix and indifferent arrangements can occasionally make it hard to properly differentiate the songs, but the best ones are smart, funny slices of noisy pop. Highlights include "I Heart MAO Inhibitors," which resembles both the tightly wound brittleness of Wire's Pink Flag and the sly charms of classic Buzzcocks, and the high-spirited opener, "People I Know."

Send a Message, High Tension Wires
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