DEAD TO ME: Cuban Ballerina: CD

Featuring Jack of One Man Army—and his way of threading neo street punk anthems into the flagwork of classics that Sham 69 could have written—there’s no doubt the songs are catchy as hell. (It also doesn’t hurt to have retired rollerblade champion Chicken on bass.) But there’s this almost subliminal quality to the record that makes it slide by too easily for me. I know nothing of modern recording practices, but the tones of the instruments—not the pacing, or the singing—make the record seem covered in Teflon. Zwoop. Right through. Claws seem trimmed. Thorns seem pruned. The setting’s alluring, but it’s a painting of a rose bush instead of running naked and stumbling through a rose garden. The noticeable exceptions are the songs, like “Special Professional,” with dramatic pacing shifts that chip at that sonic barricade. So, more Streets of San Francisco Swingin’ Utters, smell of exhaust, and the spitting out of asphalt after a faceplant, and I do believe Dead To Me will find me a full-on fan.

 –todd (Fat)