[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
Sept. 15 - 22, 2000

[Music Reviews]

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** The Presidents


(Music Blitz)

Back together after a couple years off, this is the same Seattle trio who were once known tongue-in-cheekily as the Presidents of the United States of America. The name has changed, and so has their label affiliation, but the Presidents' approach remains pretty much the same -- revved-up little guitar-driven ditties that are as fun as they are funny, and as catchy as they are silly. "Jazz Guy," with its snide "I wanna be a jazz guy/Play black music for white people" refrain, is about as message-oriented as singer/guitarist Chris Ballew and his crew get. The Star Wars-inspired "Death Star," which is indeed an ode to Darth Vader's giant fortress/weapon, is more up the Presidents' alley.

Unfortunately, simply shortening their name isn't going to change the fact that the Presidents remain a joke band, and through no fault of their own the joke started wearing a bit thin after the first album sold its second million. Joke bands have a short shelf life, and the Presidents did well to cash in early. The way the cheesy Farfisa/Vox organ tones give some of the new material more of a retro-'60s flavor only drives home the conclusion that though Freak Out and Small is full of smart little hooks, it can't help sounding a bit dated.

-- Matt Ashare
[Music Footer]

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