The Ordinary Boys

Over the Counter Culture

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Named after the Smiths' paean to the working-class lads so "happy going nowhere, just around here in their rattling cars," the Ordinary Boys deliver an urgent and catchy debut album with Over the Counter Culture. A quartet, the Ordinary Boys unapologetically wear their influences on their sleeves, calling to mind such British rock idols as Morrissey, Billy Bragg, and the Jam. Like a mini-me version of Paul Weller -- mod Prince Valiant haircut included -- the Ordinary Boys' lead singer, Preston, croons and growls his way through the group's tight roster of original songs. Similarly, bassist James Gregory comes up with some of the best low-end melodicism this side of Andy Rourke, while lead guitarist William J. Brown fires off jangly arpeggios and jazz-inflected lines. Notably, tunes such as the working-class anthems "Week in, Week Out" and "Seaside" showcase the band's knack for writing immediately hummable melodies with heartfelt lyrics. If the band sounds occasionally a bit too much like the now-defunct Gene, it can easily be chalked up to a case of similar influences and youthful exuberance. Over the Counter Culture isn't the most unique debut, but with influences like these, who can complain?

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