The Complaints

Fear

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This very smart music from Cranston, RI's the Complaints was engineered by the legendary Phil Greene -- former guitarist with Warner Brothers act Swallow and heavily associated with John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band as well as New Kids on the Block. For a trio they wield some serious power, Dean Petrella's vocals and guitar protrude like an unholy marriage between Nirvana and the more mainstream Neighborhoods from Boston, a group Greene also worked with. But the finished product works for these nine short pop tunes -- all bordering on the two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half minute length -- pack a lot of punch. "House Wife" is spunky enough to evoke what the Doobie Brothers might've sounded like if they were churning out their hits in the new millennium: funky with drive. The snare drum sure feels like one of Phil Greene's old tricks, something called "Janet's Beaver" where the recording studio combined samples from Janet Jackson's "Nasty" with some Beaver Brown drum sounds. Bam! The crackling sample was utilized on many tracks coming out of that notable Rhode Island facility and the snap works to good effect on this disc. "Ugly Girl" is another stylistic change, the nine Neil Petrella originals clever and concise. The rhythm section of Chris Cruz on bass and Anthony Marotti's drums keep the foundation together for Petrella while the haunting backing vocals on "Ugly Girl" show the band knows the needs of its pop audience. In a move that's most appreciated by those who like to read the words, the trio published all the lyrics on their TheComplaints.com website which also has clean navigation that doesn't annoy, though the lyrics are included in the obligatory tiny type inside the black eight page booklet with a very intriguing blurry photo of the band. There's a montage of dozens of photos inside the jewel case making for novel packaging along with some solid music. Check out "I Won't," a jangly Raspberries/old-style Beatles tune that comes in at two-minutes-and-forty-eight seconds and exits before you can get tired of it. With songs short and sweet, the boys get the message across and shut it down quick, which is the best avenue for pop artists to take. Some tracks work better than others, but the Fear CD is an admirable first effort that rocks with authority.

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