That’s definitely amore
Dean Martin possessed the cool.
Now, the essential juiced-down charm of Dino may be lost on a lot of readers these days, but if you’re curious, go rent the original Ocean’s Eleven (not the remake) or one of the campy late-’60s movies featuring his Matt Helm character, essentially a cocktailed version of James Bond. Or just type “Dean Martin” into the search box on YouTube.
Dino went to that great Friars’ Club roast in the sky on Christmas Day 1995, but he was in full effect onstage Friday night at Old Ironsides, when Mike Cinciripino, Knock Knock’s lead guitarist, gave a Dino-worthy performance. No, he didn’t sing “That’s Amore” or anything, but his hilarious between-song quips were reeled off with the kind of delightfully half-in-the-bag insouciance that helped make Martin such a beloved character in his time. Add that to his slightly scribbled but classic Fender surf-rock tone, and you’ve got Sacramento’s very own guitar-wielding Dino. Here’s hoping Cinciripino gets a few gigs in with his other band, the Bananas, before Knock Knock returns in the fall.
Speaking of other local pop bands with male-female harmonies, Love Gone South—which shares initials and a key member with the once-quite-popular band Little Guilt Shrine—released its debut CD, Drift, last March. Seems frontman Matt Holland has a thing about those initials, as he got a tattoo with them a while back, and he’s had other bands with names like Lime Green Spiders and Large Green Stationwagon. Which may be why his current band changed its name from the Kept.
The signature characteristic of Drift is the vocal harmonies of Holland and Amy Esteves, which resemble the combined voices of John Doe and Exene Cervenka of the classic Los Angeles punk band X. But the music isn’t punk so much as it’s a hybrid of Elroy and Judy Jetson-style new wave à la the B-52s and the post-Cobain major-label grunge that dominated “active rock” radio playlists in the 1990s; the latter reference stems mostly from Holland’s guitars, a distorted cornucopia that eschews unvarnished sounds in favor of stomp-box effects.
The album’s 19 songs—which make for a lot to absorb in one sitting—tend to run together; aside from a pair of slowed-down numbers in the middle (“Burned by Your Fire” and “Watch Me Drown”) and a post-coital rumination a few tracks later called “2:30 a.m.,” they whiz by without lodging in your brain the way, say, Knock Knock’s songs from Girls on the Run do. But the playing is solid, with a rhythm section featuring Josh Chesney (Brother, Six White Horses) on bass and Slade Anderson (Crazy Ballhead) on drums (www.lovegonesouth.com).
Another local disc worth mentioning is Noise Machines by Citrus Heights trio the Onlymen. Singer-guitarist Warren Bishop has a knack for writing catchy guitar pop tunes that evoke the spirit of the late, lamented über-bar band NRBQ, and the 10 songs here—with Bishop joined by bassist Larry Cox, drummer Mani Kontokanis and sometimes-guitarist Todd Weber—exude melodic energy in a post-Buddy Holly-innocent kind of way, even when the subject matter is serious, like “College 0, Baghdad 1.” And the harmony vocals sound like Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac on steroids (www.myspace.com/theonlymen).
And now my tip: If you haven’t heard Louisville band My Morning Jacket’s exquisite new album Evil Urges, it’s like the Band and Neil Young cohabiting with Prince and Pink Floyd. Sweet.