The Rock*A*Teens

Major Motion Picture

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The Rock*A*Teens were never afraid of wearing their emotions on their sleeves -- especially frontman Chris Lopez, whose artfully bestial howl was the group's sonic trademark along with Justin Hughes' reverb-drenched guitar -- but they were willing to lay their hearts on the line in front of an audience in a way they didn't quite match in the studio, and A Major Motion Picture is a document that preserves the group's ragged majesty for the ages. Recorded straight off the soundboard at shows in 1998 and 1999, A Major Motion Picture features the Rock*A*Teens 2.0 -- Lopez, Hughes, bassist William Joiner, and drummer Ballard Lesemann -- bounding through the rockabilly-damaged indie rock that was their creation, and if certain details get lost in the echoey audio, the band sounds at once loose and furiously committed on-stage, and the swampy sound actually works strongly in the group's favor. A Major Motion Picture plays like a documentary that gets the Rock*A*Teens on plastic warts and all, and much of the time the warts add much more than they take away -- the echo on Lopez's voice gives him a curious but effective added depth as he testifies about love, life, and low-rent decadence in Cabbagetown, and it merges with the reverb on Hughes' six-string into a grand tour of a planet where echo and heart are all that truly matters. With a barely audible but clearly enthusiastic crowd egging them on, the Rock*A*Teens are a glorious mass of sweat, noise, and sheer belief on A Major Motion Picture, and if their studio records make a better case for the strength of their songs, this set leaves no doubt how effective they were as a band.

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