Atomic Swindlers

OCTOBER 2004 RAVES

Debut is a sonic boom

Jeff Spevak
Staff music critic  - Gannett Newspaper

(October 22, 2004) — My, what a long way the blonde from the Raw MaGillys has come. April Laragy has abandoned her roll-in-the-hay cowgirl punk for roll-in-the-Milky-Way space pop.

Laragy and the Atomic Swindlers come out in a big way with two shows this weekend celebrating the new album Coming Out Electric.

Coming Out Electric is grand Beatles pop, as told by Barbarella. The band blends prog rock on "Space Bandit" and echoes of David Bowie & the Spiders From Mars on "Diamond Dreamer," then drifts through space dust on "Underground Love." They even get a little rough, as we see when Laragy channels Joan Jett on "Sex66."

The enhanced CD also comes with a charming animated video for the lead track, "Float (My Electric Stargirl)," which debuted at the ImageOut Festival and hints at lesbian fellowship.

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City Newspaper
October 6th, 2004

Space is the place

By Ron Netsky

Local albums are released by the dozens every year; many of them are terrific. But the new album by the Atomic Swindlers is an absolute knockout. Coming Out Electric transports you back to a time when albums took you on a journey.

Pop this disc in the CD player and you'll wonder where it came from. Is it the soundtrack for the latest Barbarella movie? Did David Bowie put his dress back on and re-emerge in a female incarnation?

It's as if the entire group was trapped on a desert island for the last couple of decades. They just got back and lost no time taking up where Bowie left off with Ziggy Stardust.

In fact, Roy Stein's "Float" offers another imaginative take on the "Space Oddity" concept. And April Laragy's "Wonderlove" seems to come from the same unisex planet as the Mott the Hoople's gay classic "All the Young Dudes," (which was written and produced by Bowie). It's a totally over-the-top time-warp.

On this album, space is most definitely the place. Its futuristic setting is such a strange anachronism --- looking backward to a 1960s view of the future and forward to the real future at the same time --- that it works.

The melodies are as beautiful and as catchy as they are off-kilter. Laragy has the perfect ironic sneer built into her vocal chords. She's acting as much as singing on every song in a manner reminiscent of great 1970s singers like Lene Lovich and Kate Bush.

But maybe the best thing about this album is the lack of attention paid to current trends. Forget rap and hip-hop, this is state-of-the-art 1973 --- total, full-throttle self-indulgence --- and there's not a weak link to be found. The songwriting is simply superb.

Some of Stein's tunes --- notably "Drag" --- contain beautiful echoes of John Lennon, with equal shares of the psychedelic and the poetic. And his "Intergalactic Lesbian Love Song" is a wild, gender-bending update of "Hey Joe." Trainer's tunes, like "Diamond Dreamers," continue to explore the cosmos, but they're firmly rooted in earthy rock. Laragy's beautiful ballad, "Underground Love," is perfectly contoured to her emotional vocal gymnastics.

Most of these tunes are greatly enhanced by Chris Yockel's slashing guitars. But on Gary Trainer's "Stars In My Pocket," it's Scott Ostrowski's wonderfully quirky guitar supporting Laragy's Betty Boop swoops.

Each song is lovingly built, texture upon texture, constructing a world of sound with far-off voices and atmospheric effects. Put on some headphones before inserting this CD. This is a soundscape well worth entering.

And don't miss the website www.atomicswindlers.com/missioncontrol.html, where you will find Joel Trussell's animated video of "Float," perfectly executed in a retro kinky moderne style.

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