Cha Cha Damore


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Cha Cha Damore Review

by Jack Rabid

While Pegboy has now made the same record five times (since their formation subsequent to ace guitarist John Haggerty's departure from Naked Raygun), Cha Cha Damore is (paradoxically) a big surprise. Easily their best, this new work almost treads on such hallowed ground as Raygun's 1986 classic All Rise. Enjoying a thick, magnificently mixed production from old-days pal Steve Albini, this Chicago institution has also composed tunes that blast like a best-of, with one super-charged, melodic thruster rocket after another. The tempos serve the songs perfectly rather than rushing singer Larry Damore's gut-spilled singing, and Damore himself has improved, adding convincing anguish and unguarded feeling into his big-lug voice. Ex-Raygun bassist Pierre Kezdy's steely edge is further ferocious: even his old favorite J.J. Burnel of the Stranglers would karate-kick for such a ripping, trebly sharpness. And if you can name a drummer with bigger chops and quick-firing speed than ex-Bloodsport and Effigies mauler Joe Haggerty, big John's little bro, then to quote the Yardbirds, "Mister, you're a better man than I." Of course, it's the elder Haggerty's six-string roar, 13 years vintage, that continues to define both this band (as it did Raygun, who themselves re-formed with Kezdy but sadly without Haggerty) and the older, vaunted "Chicago sound." Between that roar, the better songs, and Albini's inspired efforts, it's not writer-hack cliché to suggest that this quartet has invested a decade to achieve a decisive work. Even the cover of Cheap Trick's 1978 Heaven Tonight staple "Surrender" (which Raygun also used to do live) sounds like Pegboy wrote it, blazing a new trail in an ancient but still fertile forest. Do not dismiss Cha Cha without fair listen. A solid band has made an LP that combines 1977 punk's dense pound with '90s post-punk's modern feel, with hooks embedded in each riff, hacksaw chord change, and chorus.

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