The Nutley Brass

Fiend Club Lounge

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One look at the Misfits' thriving online store -- Spooky light-switch plates! Skull logo belt buckles! Misfits skateboard decks! -- and it's clear there's a clamor for something like Fiend Club Lounge. The collection reinterprets the Misfits as kitsch for the cocktail lounge, suggesting 1960s instrumental classics like Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights or anything from gonzo bandleader Juan Garcia Esquivel. Speaking of Esquivel, it would seem like this set is about ten years too late to capitalize on the "cocktail nation" craze of the mid-'90s. But there's a ready-made market in Misfits fanatics, and Sam Elwitt, the composer behind Nutley Brass, has actually been at this awhile. Named for the New Jersey town he lives in, the Nutley Brass were started by Elwitt with 1995's Greatest Hits of Shimmy Disc, which featured bachelor-pad takes on Uncle Wiggly and King Missile. He also did an album of instrumental pop Ramones covers, the highlight of which was a hilarious elevator music version of "Blitzkrieg Bop" that a nun could hum along to. "Hilarious" is right: Elwitt never gets too serious with his Nutley material, so there's no reason for punk rock purists to get bent out of shape over Fiend Club Lounge. It's a novelty that happens to be well written and kind of entertaining. "Teenagers from Mars" becomes the bopping soundtrack to a 1960s Fifth Avenue shopping spree, complete with twiddling xylophones. "Astro Zombies," appropriately, features a spacy lead guitar, and the "woah woah woah"s of "Hatebreeders" are redone as a rousing brass fanfare. Elwitt wisely shortens his versions -- anything longer than a minute or two per track and Fiend Club Lounge would get pretty dead. Instead of indulging, he just restates the songs' strong melodies, then throws in some twinkling pianos or, in the case of "Where Eagles Dare," a sitar that does the Mash Potato.

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