Atomic Swindlers

August 2005 PRESS

August 2005
Who's the New Gwen?
We'd never want to replace her, but one chick is deserving of Gwen -size adoration.
When Atomic Swindlers broke onto the scene with their debut CD, Coming Out Electric - a concept piece that follows the trials and tribulations of a sexy 23rd century heroine, replete with non-gendered sex, love, time travel and intergalactic mayhem - the band was compared to everyone from PJ Harvey to Blondie. But with lesbian Barbarellaesque frontwoman April Laragy, one comparison is really clear: She's the new Gwen Stefani. Not that each song on this enigmatic cosmic groove is riffed from No Doubt, but Laragy seems at times to be subverting Stefani's sound with a slightly less ska-influenced, more introspective voice of her own. And that's a good thing. In the midst of the great sucking sound called J.Lo (or American Idol, or whatever horrible pop permeation is getting all the radio play this week), chicks like Laragy and Stefani open up new channels for women who don't fit mainstream culture's tired old ideas about what's girlie and what's not.
- Diane Anderson-Minshall


Review from, August 2005

Sci-fi glam rock, all glittery and straight from the stars -- the Atomic Swindlers know how to write a gorgeous story of a song, and perform the hell out of it. Float(My Electric Stargirl) is a lush pop extravaganza, the mix of lead singer April Laragy's cosmic voice and the almost hypnotic melody becoming pure intoxication. If you truly want your head blown, check out the song's stunning animated video. It's Blade Runner + Cherry 2000 + Samurai Jack + all things cool.


Glam-rock taps lesbian spacegirls
Jeff Spevak
Staff music critic
August 19, 2005

This sci-fi, lesbian rock movement really has legs to it.

The Atomic Swindlers, the Rochester glam-rock outfit fronted by platinum-blond, 23rdcentury diva April Laragy, is exploding on lesbian-oriented Web sites and publications. And the animated video for its song "Float (My Electric Stargirl)" has just won the Style Council Award, the most-prestigious honor at HypeFest, a Hollywood showcase for short films from around the world.

This new attention for the year-old video should further fan the fans' flames.

"We wanted to go out there," says the band's drummer, Roy Stein, who also wrote the song. "But we couldn't afford it, to be blunt."

Well, maybe the royalty checks will start rolling in after these reviews make the rounds:

As Curve magazine rants about Laragy in its August issue, "one
comparison is really clear: She's the new Gwen Stefani."

"... as hot as they come," adds on its top 10
list of "Women We Love" alongside Laura Dern. "(Laragy) may well
be the hottest space gun toting girl-rescuer in the galaxy!"

Even The Village Voice has taken note of what's coming out — pun
intended — of western New York: "It's hard to tell if the Atomic
Swindlers are really doing a rock opera about space biker lesbian
stargirls in love, or just writing good hooks and hanging them on
exotic thigh-rubbing imagery to get attention."

A little of both, if you've followed the musical endeavors of Laragy, Stein and bassist Gary Trainer for the past decade. As the hayseed-punk band the Raw MaGillys 10 years ago, there was a subtle hint of more than musical chemistry between Laragy, who then answered to the name Heidi MaGilly, and her faux-sister, guitarist Hildi MaGilly.

But as the Atomic Swindlers, and with the addition of guitarists Scott Ostrowski and Chris Yockel, the band decided early on that the songs would have some kind of futuristic element. And the characters would have, as Stein says, "multiple sexual orientations."

“People ask us, 'Did you purposely do it?'" Laragy says of the Swindlers' diverse songwriting palate. "The gay culture and the sci-fi culture kind of cross over at certain points. Gary always did write songs that had that cowboy/sci-fi setting, and this album started telling a story of a 23rd-century heroine girl, and traveling through time and space. That made it easy to put the songs together."

With Trainer being openly gay, and Laragy being coy about her sexuality, and Stein writing straight-ahead, solarsystemlove songs, "well, the lyrics really go everywhere," Laragy says — just like the band itself.

Stein agrees. "I wasn't going to play games with playing gender. If we were gonna write love songs, they could come from any direction. And, to be honest, that represents the people in the band."

The open-to-anything image can't match what's suggested by the video for "Float," created by illustrator Joel Trussell, who happened to spot the Atomic Swindlers' CD lying around the Knoxville, Tenn., office of the management firm that the two share.

Trussell, Stein says, was particularly taken by the cover art of Coming Out Electric: Laragy cozied up inside of a spacey-looking time tunnel, waving her ray gun and silver boots in the air. It's the work of three local artists who donated their time: Graphic designers Doug Ekings and Tim Tucker, and photographer Brian G. Sprouse.

Trussell latched onto the intergalactic content of "Float" and Laragy's cosmic allure to create a charming video featuring two women; a relationship is hinted at.

Coming Out Electric also has roots in the Rochester band that Trainer and Stein played with in the '80s, the Jetblack Berries. That group's songs, like "Masked Astronaut" and particularly "Sundown on Venus," Trainer says, "sort of jumped from there to, 'Let's try to continue in this vein.'"

"I think it's really important that people get what they want to get out of it," Laragy says. "We're happy where it's gone. We'd like to see it go further.

"But we're not fooling anybody. It's not mainstream music. And I'm not bragging like it's going over people's head. Maybe, sideways in their head?"




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