All The Mission Creeps wanted was for everyone to dance--was that so much to ask? Their surfy-scary blues rock is music that merits the moving of the bones, but only a few people aside from the band's guest go-go dancers were actually shaking their legs. Not that people weren't into it--the tour de force of guitarist/singer James Arrrgh (formerly of the Ten Percenters and the Sonars), guest keyboardist Namoli Brennet, bassist Frankie Stein (formerly of the Stellas and also a former bandmate of mine), conga drummer Gore Ya and new drummer Sinful Bryn (formerly of Cortex Bomb and Feast Upon Cactus Thorns) had the crowd at Surly Wench toasting to necrophilia and singing along to their unofficial theme song, "Creepy."
There's something almost relaxing about the Mission Creeps' inclusion of instruments like accordions, congas and maracas on top of theremin, organ-toned keyboard and your standard guitar, bass and drums; the more acoustic instruments make it all a little less campy and give songs like "Spider Hole" more personality and texture. The Mission Creeps definitely have a shtick, but they play around with it in ways that keep things interesting.
Phoenix's The Love Me Nots have a shtick, too: girls in very short go-go dresses and very high boots. They also all only wear black and white, hence the name of their brand-new debut record, The Love Me Nots in Black and White, produced by Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Mooney Suzuki) in Detroit. It's hard not to focus on singer Nicole's legs as she grips her old-style microphone in one hand and plays her Farfisa with the other; she leans back and crouches down as she plays, getting dangerously close to flashing the audience. Christina Nuñez casually keeps a cigarette in her mouth as she picks away at her bass, and drummer Jay Lien and guitarist Michael Johnny Walker seem to fade into the background. Perhaps they should also wear miniskirts. Nicole's garage-pop vocals are growling and the songs fast and furious: The bass and guitar lock in on a riff; the organ plays something quick and similar; and the drums give it all a stable rhythm.
But they seem more focused on their image than their music, which ends up sounding like the same song played 13 different ways. Danceable, yes; memorable, no. Do I love them not? Yes.