Lola Ray

I Don't Know You

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As much as rock music has evolved over the years, one thing that never seems to disappear is power pop (an infectious, ever-attractive blend of melodic, poppy infectiousness and rockin', guitar-powered aggression). The Beatles wrote the book on power pop in the '60s; since then, power pop has been a healthy part of everything from hard rock (Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi) to punk (the Ramones, the Dickies, Generation X) and new wave (Blondie, the Go-Go's). And in the post-'80s, post-Nevermind, post-baby boomer era of alternative rock, the term power pop easily applies to bands ranging from No Doubt to Oasis to Veruca Salt. Another band that is making power pop relevant to alternative pop/rock is Lola Ray, which shows a lot of potential on the promising, if imperfect, I Don't Know You. It isn't surprising that Lola Ray was the second band that Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte signed to their DC Flag label -- the Maddens know a thing or two about power pop, and they were obviously drawn to the poppy aggression that Lola Ray frontman John Balicanta and his colleagues bring to the table. The Maddens' faith in Lola Ray was justified; Balicanta's ability to be poppy and edgy at the same time serves him well on infectiously promising tunes like "She's a Tiger," "Our Brown Friends," "Automatic Girl," and the opener, "Plague (We Need No Victims)." That isn't to say that I Don't Know You is perfect; some of the tracks are excellent, while others are merely adequate. But when Lola Ray hit their creative mark -- and most of the time, they do -- one wants to keep a close eye on the New York-based alterna-popsters.

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