Atomic Swindlers


MUSIC - Space glam
Sexy queer New York band recalls heydays of Bowie and Barbarella
By Gilbert Garcia
Pop Music Critic

Atomic Swindlers
“Coming Out Electric”
Self release

Hailing from the sleepy town of Rochester in upstate New York, glam rockers Atomic Swindlers make a good case that aliens may be living among us. Led by leather-clad lesbian singer April Laragy, the space-age sextet emulates the androgynous glam movement of the ’70s with a very queer, futuristic-retro vibe. On their self-produced debut, “Coming Out Electric,” the Swindlers strike a perfect balance between high concept and high camp — telling the story of a queer girl from the 23rd century.

When a group so proudly wields its influences, comparisons are inevitable. Resemblances to Blondie and “Ziggy Stardust”-era David Bowie are obvious. And rock musicals in the vein of “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” also some to mind. But it would be a mistake to ignore less obvious influences.

Listen to Laragy’s vocals and you can hear a young Gwen Stefani, a common observation that’s begun to stick. The group’s thick, guitar-driven production gives a nod to studio noodlers like Pink Floyd and Radiohead. And if you listen closely, you’ll find occasional hints of Iggy Pop and Jimi Hendrix.

Where most concept albums require an effort to enjoy, the charm of “Coming Out Electric” is immediate. From start to finish, the album’s sci-fi groove is relentlessly catchy. Standouts on “Coming Out Electric” include the record opener and first single, “Float (My Electric Stargirl),” the driving punk of “Space Bandits” and the go-go glam of “Diamond Dreamers.”

As the dreamy “Jupiter’s Falling” proves, Atomic Swindlers can nail ballads as easily as rock anthems. They also kick up high drama regardless of volume or tempo. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a dud among the dozen tracks on this CD.

Though the Atomic Swindlers are currently unsigned, the groundswell of positive buzz should solve that pretty soon. Grassroots support, both on the Web and satellite radio, has also bolstered the band’s indie success. If and when the band records a follow-up, the only competition they’ll face is from themselves. A remarkable debut, “Coming Out Electric” will be a tough album to top.



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