The Explosives

KaBOOM!

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While Austin, TX has long been one of America's great cities for live music, it took a while for the new wave/punk rock phenomena to take root there in the '70s, but one band that toughed it out in the early days before Texas hardcore put the Lone Star scene on the map was the Explosives. While the band's roots lay in melodic power pop, after a few months on the club circuit the Explosives' sound toughened up considerably, and along with developing a loyal fan following for their own music, they gained a reputation as one of Roky Erickson's best backing bands (they're still playing with Roky to this day). While the Explosives released a handful of records, most through their own Black Hole Records, their music was hard to find outside of Texas, but the two-disc set KaBoom makes a healthy sampling of their catalog readily available on CD at last. The set opens with "A Girl Like You," a glorious slice of British-influenced power pop, but while there's plenty more sweet stuff on board (especially the '60s-accented "Lonely Street"), the band's strongest suit was angular almost-punk tunes like "Dog Star," "Fortress Europe," "I'm an Explosive" and "UFO," with guitarist Cam King, bassist Sonny Collie and drummer Freddie "Steady" Krc sounding impressively tight and wildly energetic, and if their attempts at hard-edged topical lyrics haven't always dated well, the music is still a solid blast. Disc two features an 18-song set the Explosives played at Austin's Continental Club on the last day of 1980 along with a few other rarities, and the band sounds just as revved up on-stage as they do in the studio. KaBoom isn't quite the document of a "great lost band," but it does confirm the Explosives deserved better than simply being local heroes -- there's some fine, wiry rock & roll on this set that anyone who came of age in the era of skinny ties will groove to.

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