Atomic Swindlers

May 2005 PRESS
May 2005
Review by A.L. Sirois

The debut release from Rochester's Atomic Swindlers sound like a cross between Gwen Stefani and David Bowie

The Atomic Swindlers are a five-piece band that's been getting some good exposure in upstate New York and is now looking to break out of the region. They write songs that explore what they call"non-gender-judgmental sex, love, time-travel escapades and
intergalactic mayhem" set to a "cosmic groove." The Swindlers go over well in the Rochester area clubs, particularly since their lead singer and keyboardist, April Laragy, acts out the persona of an interstellar hottie. This, their self-released first CD, displays impressive songwriting ability and more than adequate playing.

The band unashamedly mines the "Spiders From Mars" glam-rock groove that David Bowie pioneered back in the day, and they channel Bowie on a few of these tracks. It's a lot of fun to pick out the influences of Bowie, among others, in the Swindlers' music. What's
best about the tunes, though, is that they are all very melodic. Laragy has a voice that ranges from wistful to sensuous—it's always very smooth, without any rough edges. The band benefits from the assured playing of drummer/songwriter Roy Stein, who works with
bassist Gary Trainer to anchor the tracks. This allows the guitarists, Scott Ostrowski and Chris Yockel, to take their solos off into orbit. But they never go too far from what Stein and
Trainer are laying down. Production credits go to the Swindlers, with Stein and Ostrowski also engineering with co-producer Chris Hooker.

The disc opens with the soft but insistent "Float (my electric stargirl)," for which award-winning animator/illustrator Joel Trussell has supplied a superb Samurai Jack-like video. If the listener pops the disc into a computer, the enhanced menu comes up with a link to the video and the band's Web site. The disc also works perfectly well on a regular CD player. The aptly named "Float" evokes that dreamy old Bryan Ferry tune "Avalon." The second tune,"Wonderlove," reminds one of mid-period Procol Harum, with a very nice dual guitar-piano solo. "Space Bandit," the third song, is a seriously up-tempo rocker whose bridge really takes off. There's a cool Leslie effect on Laragy's voice.

The other songs have good melodic hooks, and are all reminiscent of other bands. "Drag," for example, wouldn't have sounded out of place on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon."Diamond Dreamer" sounds like early Dire Straits.

The aliens are coming out

With "Intergalactic Lesbian Love Affair," we're back in Bowie territory, this time visiting "Diamond Dogs." Brian Eggleston, who supplies piano on a number of tracks, adds some excellent background work here, as on the aforementioned "Wonderlove."

It's probably no exaggeration to say that almost any of the songs on this CD could be a hit with proper airplay and marketing push. The lyrics are good, too, which is something of a surprise from a freshman effort. "Sex66," for example, has a great opening line, "I like the way your name feels in my mouth." Nudge nudge, wink wink. Also, the song has what is probably the best guitar solo on the album.

The final track, "Stars in My Pocket," takes its opening line directly from the Chip Delany ( novel, with Laragy's voice underlined by tabla and a Flaming Lips-like guitar lick that leads right into a Hendrix-inspired passage right out of Axis: Bold as Love. They even applied phase shifting to Laragy's voice in places here. "Stars" is no mere imitation of the Hendrix tune, however. The babbling vocal works nicely against the more leisurely instrumental work. The song ends with an extended up-tempo coda that really has the guitars working out and Stein pounding away like a madman.

Every song here has been carefully constructed and gives testimony to the time put into the writing and the arranging. The Swindlers have in fact given lots more thought to arrangements than most other new bands. The production is good, too. It never gets in the way of the music, giving each instrument and vocal track plenty of room. Nothing gets buried in the mix.



May 2005
Romance Reviews Today
The Atomic Swindlers

Musical Enhanced CD with Video

The Atomic Swindlers, a musical group out of Rochester, New York, have a sound not heard for a long while. They have gleefully taken on a retro sound, from an era when music was not created by committee, but by artists. COMING OUT ELECTRIC is a CD in which the songs, all written with the theme of science fiction romance and outer space, take the listener on a “sort of celestial ride,” to quote April Laragy, lead vocalist. The CD presents the listeners with a view of the future as it was envisioned in the 1960s and '70s. Visions of Barbarella and David Bowie come to mind. Lead vocalist April Laragy has a lush, sexy, rather smoky voice, amply supported by atmospheric, otherworldly music that listeners will appreciate.

This specially enhanced CD is accompanied by a video animation that can be played on the computer along with the CD. An imaginative animation is tied to track number one, entitled “Float (My Electric Stargirl)”. The animation was created by Joel Trussell, an award winning animation artist with his own cheerfully manic view of the world. Though the viewer may be reminded of the JETSONS style of animation, the story is definitely a more sophisticated romance. Not your everyday romance, either, but one with a kick-ass heroine who calmly does what she must to rescue her lover. The video can be viewed at ( and is definitely worth a look. April Laragy is the glamorous inspiration for the lead character.

The enhanced concept CD enables not only music artists, but also video artists to bring their projects directly to their fans. This CD has been played on satellite radio, where many independent music stations are found. It has also been featured on Mania TV! In addition to April Laragy, the band’s members include Gary Trainer (bass), Scott Ostrowski (guitar and vocals), Roy Stein (drums), Chris Yockel (guitar), and Brian Eggleston (keyboards and vocals). All of them have made a lot of hard work seem like great fun. This CD can be purchased on The ATOMIC SWINDLERS website via a link to CD Baby, and is very reasonably priced. It represents some great new music that is fun and not like everything else out there.



May 2005
Sci-Fi Rock'n'Roll Roars Back with the Atomic Swindlers' Coming Out Electric
Nuketown/ Music & Audio
by Kenneth Newquist

Where are the fun bands?

Over the last few months, as I have been happily lost in a non-radio paradise of podcasts, audio books and my music collection, this is a thought I've had many times.

Where are the fun bands?
I'm talking about acts like David Bowie, Queen, The Talking Heads, Cheap Trick and anyone else who loved to play with their listeners expectations and experiment with new songs. Bands who didn't take themselves to seriously. Bands who were, in a word, fun.
I haven't found such bands on the radio; occasional surveys of the FM spectrum have revealed that commerical radio remains a vast wasteland. Fortunately though, I have come across I have come across one band that gives me hope for our musical present: the Atomic Swindlers.

With sound and style that can best be described as Ziggy Stardust meets The Fifth Element, the Atomic Swindlers' show that hey, creative rock'n'roll –- even science fiction rock'n'roll -- is far from dead.

Lesbian Bikers from Outer Space

I first heard about the Swindlers -- and their first album, Coming Out Electric -- when I was contacted by their agent about a potential review. I surfed over to the band's Web site, and checked out the video for "Float (My Electric Stargirl)". I listened to the sexy, catchy tune about a space biker chick fighting to free her lost and imprisoned girlfriend, loved its Samurai Jack-like visuals, and found myself humming the song in the shower the next day, and wondering irately how long it would take for the review CD to show up.

By the time it arrived, I had a little audio distance from my first listen, and set myself up for disappointment: the video track could have been a fluke and the rest of the album could suck.

It didn't.

The first thing that's apparent just from looking down the track list to "Coming Out Electric" is that the album's utterly infatuated with science fiction, with tracks names like "Space Bandit", "Intergalactic Lesbian Love Song", "Jupiter's Falling" and "Stars In My Pocket". Loading the album onto my iPod revealed that this was more than just a passing romantic fancy: the entire album passionately and unapologetically soul kisses the genre.
Check out these lyrics from float:

I wanted to shine like the silver surfer
A cosmic queen of the stars
Now I'm just a killer on a wave less sea
Weightless and free
Your voice is all that's left of me

How can you not geek out when reading (or hearing) that? I mean, when was the last time you heard someone mention the Silver Surfer on your Top 40 or "classic rock" station? Hell, have you ever heard someone sing about that former herald of Galactus? Superman? Sure. Batman? Once. But the Silver Surfer? That's a new one on me.
And then there are these lyrics from "Space Bandit"

Magnetic Lands of the Zen moment
Down telepathic alleyways
Disappear in their own image
Invasion magic primal state
Psychic chaos for the taking
Loves distortion shimmering
Deprived of air like space and bandits
Star links open out of dreams

Trippy eh? The entire album is like this -- great imagery, amusing science fiction references, and just an all around fun sound. There's that word again -– fun. It's what I've found so lacking on the radio nowadays, and it can be found here in spades.

Musical Fusion

When I said that the Atomic Swindlers sound like a fusion of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the strange-but-fun movie The Fifth Element, I meant it; listening to the album for the first time, that's the imagery that sprung to mind: "Starman" playing while Leeloo slinks around in a white leotard saving the universe. Other reviewers – with musical backgrounds no doubt far more diverse than my own—hevoke Blondie, No Doubt, and Iggy Pop — and to that line up I'll thrown in a little Rush (particularly the sci-fi rock opera "2112").

The actual style of music varies considerably over the course of the album, though it all stays true to its fundamental late 70s/early 80s sound. "Float" is the only really laidback, Pink Floyd-like track on the album, which I initially found disappointing because I really enjoyed that freaking song. On repeated listening though, my disappointment faded as my appreciation grew for songs like "Drag" (a sort of power ballad) and "Jupiter's Falling" (a great, mild-mannered song with lots of acoustic guitar).

"Space Bandit" and "Sex66" are fast-paced rock songs, with fast and strong guitars carrying the lyrics along. Neither are particularly hardcore – they're not the sort of thing I'd blast while speeding down I-78 – but they're definitely enough to get the adrenaline pumping.

"Diamond Dreamer" has a campy Rocky Horror Picture Show sort of feel to it, but you'd kind of expect that from a song whose lyrics include:

Jukebox Tom lives in a hydrogen bomb
He was a replica of himself
A Broken Astronaut with invasion shock
He forgot to light his other half
As his capsule drifts into a black hole shift

Lead singer April Laragy handles all these transitions between styles well, going from sleepy seducative ballads to blood-stirring rock tracks with ease.

I had a lot of fun listening to this album, which is more than I can say for the last few rock albums I bought. I may have enjoyed those albums on a strictly musical or lyrical level, but Atomic Swindlers' songs have that extra kick that makes listening to them extremely amusing, even if a particular song isn't catching my fancy. Heck, they actually made me want to read the lyrics!

At this point, you're probably waiting for me to throw in the "But...", so here it is: I liked this album a lot. It's a blast to listen to, and it's very different from anything I've heard on the radio in ages. But while I liked this album, I didn't love it. Only one track -- "Float" reaches that level of affection, and while I've found myself walking around humming some of the songs, the albums not so stellar as to launch itself onto my permanent A list. It is, however, very, very very strong B material and I'm never disappointed when iTunes serves it up via "Party Shuffle"

Why is it a B instead of A? I've been thinking about that, and I can't pin it down to any one thing. I'd love to see more songs along the lines of "Float", if not in sound, then in refinement and polish. That said though, "Float" clones might cause the album to lose some of its edge, making it more Dark Side of the Moon and less Ziggy Stardust.

In any case, it's a close thing, and honestly, this could grow into a 9/10 with repeated listenings. If nothing else, the album is a heck of a lot of fun to listen to, and I do recommend picking up a copy, particularly if you're into Bowie and music of that ilk. I'll certainly be looking forward to their next release.

Final Analysis

If you're looking for an rock'n'roll band that isn't afraid to take risks, that has a sense of fun, and whole-heartedly embraces the science fiction genre, then you'd do well to buy Coming Out Electric.



Slackers Sci-Fi Source
May 2005 Atomic Swindlers Review

Melodic songs from across the galaxy come poring out of April Laragy and the members of the band Atomic Swindlers.

There’s no swindle here just good music. We travel back in time to a period when bands and their music told a story like the Beatles and Ziggy Stardust. And you’ll hear a bit of their sound in the Atomic Swindlers as well. Albeit some of the stories told here might be beyond the grasp of the average human intellect.

As soon as the disk starts spinning you can hear the influences of the bands mentioned earlier mixed with the sounds of today. Some of the tunes bring to mind No Doubt or Garbage while others flash back to the Pandoras [thanks in part to the lead vocals on all accounts]. Laragy’s cow punk past even shines through on one or two of the tracks.

Each tune lends itself to a different style of music while never straying too far. The deceptively cheery music tends to hide the darker forces working within the lyrics [which you can read on the bands official website]. The science fiction theme is never lost in any of the songs, taking the listener to the outer reaches of space and time while more often than not returning us to look even deeper into the human psyche to see what we might have learned on our journey.

Their first music video is a spiffy little animated Samurai-Jack-like adventure where we find the heroine searching the galaxy for her ladylove. The video premiered at the ImageOut film festival for its lesbian theme. And another song, Intergalactic Lesbian Love Song, suggests a future time and place when homosexually just is without the controversy --- as hopefully one day it will be here when all peoples are excepted no matter their race, religion or orientation.

You can watch the video on their website. It is also available on the enhanced CD. Once you see it you'll want more.



May 2005 Review of Coming Out Electric
Review by Jeff Marsh
Delusions of Adequacy

It might be easy to dismiss Rochester, NY’s Atomic Swindlers as a kitsch band. Paying a heavy debt to /Ziggy Stardust/-era David Bowie and futuristic retro-rock of that time, the Swindlers lean heavily on their spacey theme. Song titles like “Intergalactic Lesbian Love Song” and “Space Bandit,” the album art, the band’s live presence all might make you want to place the band in a special niche. But there’s more here than a gimmick; there’s actually a very talented and enjoyable band.

True, the Bowie comparisons are surely wholeheartedly embraced by the band, but remember for a moment how groundbreaking and original – not to mention talented – Bowie was. Frontwoman April Laragy seems like she’d be an equally enigmatic lead, using sex appeal in addition to her very lush vocals. The band’s spacey rock sound surely owes a debt to mid-70s Bowie, but also to the mid-90s layered rock sound.

The opening “Float (My Electric Stargirl)” can easily bring to mind bands like Sneaker Pimps or Sleeper, kicking things off on a more laid-back vibe with a song structure that really does float. Slower songs like “Wonderlove” and “Underground Love” evoke a kind of spacey melodrama that’s slick and fun, and Laragy’s sex appeal oozes out of her vocals. “Drag” has a bit of Blondie mixed with acoustic guitars and keys for a truly unique approach, and the organic rhythm and vibe of the album-closing “Stars in My Pocket” again mixes styles effortlessly into something the band’s own.

But this is a rock album, filled with upbeat rhythms and pure rock-n-roll guitars. Listen to the catchy “Space Bandit” and the playful “Intergalactic Lesbian Love Song” with its blazing guitar work. The upbeat guitars and keys and repeated “whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” vocals make “Sex66” another fun rock track that’s surely a live favorite with its lyrics, “Well I’m the meanest pistolero on Rocketfire sex66.” And “Empty Girl” could have been a fun alt-rock hit in the 90s. It’s only at a few times that the space gimmick gets a bit tiring, as on “Diamond Dreamer,” which overdoes the lyrics a bit, and the extremely Stardust-esque “Planet of a Thousand Lies,” which I have to admit would sound amazing in Ziggy’s time.

If a band like The Darkness can use the inevitable Queen comparisons to reach fame and fortune, there’s no reason the Atomic Swindlers can’t resurrect Bowie’s trademark psychedelic space-rock for a run in the mid-00s. There’s a load of talent on /Coming Out Electric/, and Laragy has the look and sound that the band needs. And even if you’re not one for gimmick, the songs are fun and catchy enough, slick enough to make them an enjoyable break from reality.




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