2011

Proud garage-rockers through the heydays of Eighties synth-pop and Nineties grunge, New Jersey's Smithereens have kept it going, seemingly determined to be the Platonic ideal of a grizzled bar band that you might find in Anytown, USA. Lately they've been releasing tribute cover LPs, among them a muscular, scarily-accurate remake of Meet The Beatles, and an airtight version of the Who's Tommy that might out-rock Roger Daltrey's Who-less touring version this summer. But this set of originals shows that they're more than just a tribute act: They've internalized the lessons of their models, and still crunch harder than most of the power-pop acts they get filed alongside. "Sorry" is a cross between late Sixties London and late Seventies New York City. "One Look At You" chimes like the Byrds; "As Long As You Are Near Me" is a mid-tempo rocker recalling early Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe, with some vintage AM-radio vocal hooks sprinkled on top. You may not remember the tunes clearly in the morning. But good nights with a bar band are like that.