The Flipsides

Clever One

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Melody is a given in the West Coast punk scene, particularly for releases from Fat Wreck Chords or its imprints Honest Don's and Pink & Black. Even so, the Flipsides push the melodic punk envelope, shoving in so many hooks, it's a wonder the UPS let them through the metal detector. This three-year-old San Francisco band offers up clean, crunchy songs that connect some of the dots between mid-'60s pop/rock and the contemporary punk scene. On Clever One, the trio's debut album, singer/guitarist Sabrina Stewart steers clear of the roaring/soaring/screaming guitar solos and heads straight for the power chords. Bassist/backing vocalist Mark Bradin and drummer Jim Lindsay pump up the sound and the energy, even on the slower numbers. Musically, the Flipsides rip a page from the '60s' songbook and take notes on early wave bands, but their themes are totally contemporary and purely personal and interpersonal. Stewart sees the world through steely eyes: "You've had your chances/So get out of my way/I'll kick you down to the ground if you don't trip," nicely sums it up. But she's just as hard on herself and her vulnerabilities consistently creep through the tough-girl stance. Women will sympathize with her plight and men will want to come to her defense. Songs like "The Best of Times," "So Disgusted," "The Pitcher," and "Tough Love," in particular, will resonate with virtually everyone, and Stewart has an amazing ability to give expression to the most conflicted and desolate of emotions. However, even if Clever One is filled with hurt, anger, and disappointment, the music gives the songs such lift that it helps take some of the pain away.

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