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Top Loader - Demos - EP

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Album Review

The first album by Sugarsmack, the post-Fetchin Bones project of singer Hope Nicholls and bassist/organist Aaron Pitkin, is a much harsher, noisier record than anything the Southern rock-influenced Bones ever managed. This suits Nicholls' voice, a raspy wail that sounds a little like a post-punk Janis Joplin. The songs are a rather curious mixture of Electric Prunes-style organ-buzz psychedelia and post-grunge industrial noise, with self-explanatory titles like "Pissed Off" and "Bring on the UFOs." The punk-psych tunes are the most effective; highlights are "Boomerang" and the clattering opener, "Hey Buddy Boy." The more industrial disco tracks, like "B.L.A.S.T." and the near-funky "Freak," are much less successful, sounding like ideas that were pressed onto the band by producer Martin Atkins (Public Image Ltd., Pigface, etc.) without consideration for whether they fit the group's aesthetic or not. Unsurprisingly, Atkins receives co-writing credit on these tracks as well. Atkins' contributions are less intrusive on the other tracks, his bits of electronica coloring the songs instead of overpowering them, and barring those two missteps, Top Loader is a satisfying debut.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

The North Carolina alt-rock quintet Sugarsmack is led by vocalist Hope Nicholls, who was previously a member of roots rockers Fetchin Bones (issuing a string of albums that proved to be favorites of college radio during the late '80s). After the group's breakup, Nicholls formed Sugarsmack with her boyfriend/guitarist Aaron Pitkin, enlisting percussionist Deanna Gonzales, drummer John Adamian, and second guitarist Chris Chandek to round out the band. Sugarsmack issued their debut album, Top Loader,...
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Top Loader - Demos - EP, Sugarsmack
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