On Fyre

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Of the dozens of bands that emerged in the 1980s garage rock revival, Lyres were one of the few that seemed to realize that the point wasn't about how much paisley clothing you could wear or finding the right vintage effects pedals (i.e. wallowing in nostalgia for an era you were too young to have actually witnessed -- the musical equivalent of living in an episode of Happy Days), but about playing cool stripped-down rock & roll. Jeff "Monoman" Conolly understood that the Sonics and the Ramones were traveling in the same direction, but merely using a different path to get there, and, as a result, Lyres' recordings have an energy and passion that's stood the test of time far better than most of their contemporaries; their debut LP, On Fyre, may well be their best. Lyres divide their time equally between covers and originals here, and Conolly's songs are strong enough to stand proudly beside those of his heroes; truth to tell, the album's two most exciting songs, "Don't Give It Up Now" and "Help You Ann," came from his pen. While Conolly's Vox Continental organ keeps his 1960s obsessions up-front throughout, the rest of the band is capable of generating a hard-driving groove, and the performances capture what was exciting and soulful about 1960s punk without drowning in a sea of "retro." If On Fyre has a flaw, it's pacing; the best songs appear on side one, rendering the second half just a bit anticlimactic. But there's good stuff throughout the album, and anyone who digs rock of all eras will find something to shake to on On Fyre.

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