May 2005 PRESS
Review by A.L. Sirois
The debut release from Rochester's Atomic Swindlers
sound like a cross between Gwen Stefani and David
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
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
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
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 (http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue217/interview.html)
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.
COMING OUT ELECTRIC
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 (http://www.atomicswindlers.com/stargirlsvideo.html)
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.
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
even science fiction rock'n'roll -- is far
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.
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"
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.
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
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
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.
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
Slackers Sci-Fi Source
May 2005 Atomic Swindlers
Melodic songs from across the galaxy come poring
out of April Laragy and the members of the band
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.
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
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.