September 20, 2001

Test Spins: Rustic Overtones

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These Portland, ME funksters could have easily entered into obscurity after becoming yet another casualty of the evil record industry. These guys are just too good for that, though. Their eclectic debut, Viva Nueva, is boiling over with elements of rock, ska, jazz, punk, salsa, funk, soul, and hip-hop. Frontman Dave Gutter alternates between melodic belting and angst-ridden screaming, never lacking the genuine and vibrant energy that makes the Overtones such an exciting band. The opener, “C’Mon,” is definitely deserving of airplay, with its relentless horns and driving beat.

The Latin-flavored “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” meanwhile, is a haunting take on salsa rhythms with a heavy, pulsating bass and the sensual vocals of Imogen Heap. Rock icon David Bowie is featured on the chorus of the organ-driven “Sector Z,” inquiring, “Is your volume up? Is your power on? This is rock and roll.” All told, Viva Nueva presents something enjoyably new and full of life.

Archived article by Ben Kupstas