I have a new toy. No not one of those, you sick twist. I have just gotten a sixties version of the entertainment center. It has a radio, phonograph, television, and speakers all hard wired together. I have, very cleverly I feel, spliced my stereo and DVD player into the system so that I can listen to CD’s and watch movies. Besides looking really cool, the stereo is built with transistor tubes, which produce a richer and fuller sound than that found on your modern stereos. So what’s my point, isn’t this an album review? My point is that while records, the radio, and television all sound great, my CD sound often comes out as hollow and tinny. I put The Stereotypes’ 3 into the works, and was immediately gratified to hear the sound I was looking for.
Those of you familiar with The Stereotypes’ previous releases know that they use a lot of lo-fi equipment to produce that garage band sound. Hell, this most recent album cover is a picture of stacks of old stereos, record players and reel-to-reel tape decks. They love that shit, and the fact that they do all of their recording in Mike Kamoo’s (drums, guitar, mellotron) studio, allows them to get the sound they are looking for. This is probably why I was able to hear the warmth I so desperately wanted (it’s a cold world out there).
3 is, of course, the third album by this band from San Diego. This time around they have opted for a cleaner and dare I say more sophisticated sound. Fans, do not fret; there is still plenty of that grit that you have grown to love. The album starts off in grand style, with the song “Emily.” It is replete with simple yet catchy guitar hooks and a tinkling piano. This jaunty little tune that is full of ‘60s pop influence will pull you in, and make you look forward to the rest of this album.
It is interesting how the band will go from a song like “Emily” to “My New Friend,” which is a much grittier garage rock song. John Finkbiner sings in a raw, howling voice to compliment the loud power chords. All of a sudden you’re rocking. Then they change gears again and slip into “Till We Meet Again.” This song is closer to the first, with Finkbiner singing sweet and softly, as well as a harmonized chorus. You relax; sit in chair outside to enjoy the beauty of life, then “Need Some Action” takes you right back into the rocking.
Several of the songs on the album contain an instrument known as the mellotron. This is a keyboard instrument that uses tape to produce the sounds of several similar instruments, such as violins, at once. This has been used by artists from the Beatles to Marilyn Manson. For more information check out www.mellotron.com. I’m serious, this thing seems to have a huge cult following. It is hard to tell who is playing it during any given song, as these guys all play multiple instruments. It could be Mike or it could be Dante Conti (guitar, mellotron, organ). While those guys are passing instruments back and forth like a joint, Tim Hines is playing the bass, singing backup, or playing the piano. I hate show-offs.
The Stereotypes remind me very much of the Kinks, who were a band that could go from soft and lovely to flat out rock, and make it look easy. The switching on this album is seamless and provides for a more enjoyable listening experience. As if a great 10-song album wasn’t enough, you also get a disk with six tracks that didn’t make it to the album— bonus! These guys have achieved some acclaim this past year, but 3 is likely to be the album to introduce them to the world. The reaction is going to be favorable.