Handsome Devil

Love and Kisses from the Underground

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Although too good to be on a major label, Handsome Devil is here, on an RCA subsidiary. Displaying punk with attitude, a sweet sense of melody, a wry sense of humor, and a nod and a wink to the indie scene, the group's debut album is sure to raise some eyebrows. Not yet two years old at the time of this release, the Orange County quartet was still formulating its own sound, but having a grand time playing with its influences. It's a heady brew: "Everything," for example, is a wicked rewrite of Oasis' "Supersonic" (and it's about time someone other than the Gallagher brothers recycled that riff), "Sorry Charlie" is an affectionate take on Elvis Costello, while "Tonight" is a graceful bow to the Ramones. The SoCal scene is an inevitable influence as well, with the Descendents an evident fave. The band has not quite matured enough to mix and match its homages, but it's still plain where this path is leading and, with time, Handsome Devil has the potential to become a top-flight group landing somewhere between the punk and indie scenes. For now, enjoy the range of styles -- ballads to rockabilly, punk to pop, and on to fist-in-the-air anthems. The lyrics are already as sharp as a tack, from the woeful "Hard Living Clean" ("I was such a friendly guy when I was getting high") to the heavily ironic "Makin' Money." And although the themes may be mostly personal, they still resonate. Dragged out of the underground and into the mainstream, Handsome Devil is guaranteed to charm.

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