Review ·

The "era-revival" movement in today's music world seems so focused on the '80s - synthesizers, eye-liner, Thomas Dolby -
that if a current artist were to approach a different decade's sound,
they could be afforded a certain amount of anonymity in doing so. By
staying off the bandwagon, they could keep under the fad radar and
emerge with a sound both old and new, but ultimately something all
their own. The Secret Machines do this. The Hold Steady do this. The
Cops do not.



it original or exciting to cite Gang of Four and the Kinks as
influences? What about the paradigm of political punk, the Clash? For
their debut album, the Seattle foursome (featuring members formerly of
Hello From Waveland and Kinski) play in the mold of
- and at times seem to exist entirely because of -
the Clash. But although the members of the Clash and Gang of Four
wielded their guitars and bravado like weapons, the Cops don't try to
carve out a mold of their own. They merely add to the landfill with
futile pseudo-politicized lyrics and generic, manufactured,
straight-ahead guitar rock. There's nothing wrong with their riffs
"Rising Son," "Waiting List," and "One Time Continuum" are catchy
enough, and opener "Negative Cutting" has an At the Drive-In intensity
about it
but nothing in any song particularly stands out. For a band mining in
the punk genre, to have nothing bold to say is as good as saying
nothing at all.


times, the attitude in singer/guitarist Mike Jaworski's voice is
infectious; "Controller" plays like a new band's independence anthem,
and "T.V. Lieyes," free of false affect, is inspiring. The lyrics in
both are rote, but it's hard to ignore a full-band shout-along or
call-and-response, and both got 'em. On "Don't Take it Personal, Dave,"
though, his snarl is embarrassing, as is the almost note-for-note Kinks
guitar rip-off.


of current bands can be cited for similar infractions, but the key is
to infuse enough personality into the music to allow the listener the
pleasure of dual discovery. The current band becomes a conduit, a time
machine: David Bowie via the Arcade Fire, Duran Duran via the Killers,
Gang of Four via Bloc Party, every old blues guitar player via the
White Stripes. Get Good or Stay Bad, however, offers no such passage, only a bunch of derivative punk-type tunes with transparent influences.


Stay Bad runs into a common problem, also evident on East Grand Blues, this year's release by the Jack White-hyped Greenhornes -
the influences are so upfront that the album loses the balance between
old and new. From "We Are the Occupants": "So what's your new
philosophy/ How are you going to change the world/ What are you going
to say/ That everyone will remember?/ How are you going to make a
difference/ What will you do?/ Paint a picture/ Write a lovely song."
With so little to back it up, it's not just empty, it's almost a



The Cops' Web site:


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