August 2005 PRESS
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 ImprudentMarriage.com, August
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
Glam-rock taps lesbian spacegirls
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
"... as hot as they come," adds
LesbianNation.com on its top 10
list of "Women We Love" alongside Laura Dern. "(Laragy)
be the hottest space gun toting girl-rescuer in
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
“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
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
"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