The Portland Phoenix
August 23 - 30, 2001
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*** The Start
Unlike many of the bands who are attempting to resurrect the keyboard-driven pop sounds of the
early ’80s through rote replication, California’s the Start (they prefer “theSTART”) have opted
to re-create the ebullient side of new wave with a 21st-century spark on this, their debut CD.
The retro whispers echo loudly in catchy choruses buoyed by bouncing synthesizers and other
computerized flourishes. Versatile vocalist Aimee Echo carries these songs with the cutesy swagger
of a contemporary Martha Davis, Dale Bozzio, or Annabella Lwin. Her raspy yet sweet vocals range
from sultry to pouting but always manage to grab the spotlight.
The band, with former members of the ’90s alterna-metal bands Snot and Human Waste Project,
bring a modern-rock edge to bear on Echo’s new-wave routine, most obviously in the faintly
industrial “Communion,” the hard-driving “Gorgeous,” and the guitar-driven “Nemesis,” which has
enough slick riffing to conjure the guilty pleasure of a lost hair-metal classic. Indeed, for all
its borrowings, Shakedown! fuses its various parts into an original-sounding whole.
— Annie Zaleski
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