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CHEST (Buy CDs by this artist)
What's Wrong With Modern Youth? (Sp. Bip Bip) 2006

A cliché: Music is an international language. Another cliché: Rock and roll is an international language. A fact: well-intended efforts at cross-cultural communication through rock and roll don't always work. Barcelona, Spain's Chest has managed to take rock and roll, add its own spin, and come up with exuberant music that defies nationalization, but it doesn't always work. The debut by vocalist Alex "Somouth" Cruces, bassist and vocalist Albert "Tucho" Gil, guitarist and vocalist Ferran "Feroza" Fernandez and drummer Jordi "Cook" Vergara fairly crackles, as if the members of Chest are teens discovering guitars and drums for the first time. What's Wrong With Modern Youth? reveals a mix of power pop influences, from Nick Lowe to Big Star (whose "September Gurls," covered here, doesn't work because the fast arrangement neuters the song's longing and loss), but "Run Ruth Run" (another Big Star cover) is fine reggae-inflected rock with a vocal that unhappily commingles Captain Beefheart and Bon Scott. Cruces's singing, compelling and passionate if not technically expert, is Chest's most distinctive feature, and it is an acquired taste.

[Martin Sharp]