(On Entertainment, CD)
For their first label-backed offering, Portland, Maine-based Paranoid Social Club cull songs from their 2002 and 2004 independent releases. While light on new material, the self-titled disc boasts 13 tunes that ably demonstrate what they stand for: good times and great music.
PSC feature the talents of guitarist/vocalist Dave Gutter, bassist/keyboardist Jon Roods and drummer/sample maestro Marc Boisvert. The group builds its songs around a hard-rock framework, but funky bass lines, soulful lyrics and a hip-hop back beat create a cross-genre appeal. This musical eclecticism has garnered the band five awards in this year's Portland Phoenix music poll, including a Best Male Vocalist for Gutter, as well as Best Act.
Their debut for the On Entertainment label is full of the party anthems that have won them such accolades. Opening track "Cable Hookup" tells the story of a guy who is down with cohabitation -- if only for his girlfriend's audio/video setup. With its intermittent hip-hop loop and twinkling piano, the song paints a fine example of the group's quirky, but ultimately rock-solid, sound. "Theme Song" is a bass-heavy track that reads as a letter of intent from the band to their fans. "I know you want to trust again / But sometimes you just get too scared / At the Paranoid Social Club we'll all fit in," they sing invitingly.
Radio-ready hits such as "Wasted" and "Two Girls" beg to be blasted from frat-house windows, while the mellower "Music Man" speaks to overzealous female audience members. Lines such as "Front row girl / You're cute as can be / You've got to understand that there's no you and me" make the band's groupie policies clear.
All three members of PSC began their musical careers as drummers. This shared percussive background gives each track a solid rhythmic foundation and helps provide direction. Boisvert's use of obscure samples and sound effects adds depth to the arrangements. Roods often multitasks in live performance, playing bass and keyboards simultaneously.
The band's music is refreshingly unpretentious, maintaining an earnest realism that never sounds forced. In an era when emotionally charged ballads about love and loss rule the airwaves, PSC remind us that rock music can also be about just having fun.
Hear for yourself when they rock the the Pickle Barrel Nightclub in Killington on Friday, October 7.