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Rise Review

by Charles Spano

Starting the first song on Motorbaby's sophomore album, Rise, with the sound of a computer connecting to the Internet doesn't inspire confidence. The lyrics on "You Can't Download Me" -- "You can't download a revolution/You can't download a revelation and you can't download me" -- also seem a little silly and to come from out of nowhere, especially when compared with something like Melissa Lefton's catchy satire "My Hit Song." But Rise's beginning belies the rest of the album and the accomplished singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer who is Sharon Middendorf. Middendorf, an actress/model/musician who has been in videos by the Beastie Boys and Cheap Trick, recruited Cult drummer Lez Warner and Beggars & Thieves bassist Ronnie Mancuso for her band. For Rise, the group spent five years amassing a collection of sexy songs that recall U2 and the Stone Roses. Throughout, Motorbaby's glam rock sounds like Garbage more than anything and, at its best ("Fly Away"), Middendorf's singing rivals Shirley Manson's. On "So Surprised," Middendorf even shares vocals and songwriting credits with Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go's, which is undeniably cool.

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