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CD REVIEW: The Bruises - Connected
By Chip Withrow - 01/18/2008 - 03:31 PM EST

Artist: The Bruises
Genre: Alternative Pop/Rock
Sounds Like: The Breeders, Veruca Salt, Belly
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Wake Up, Here's To Us, Dancing Is Dangerous
CD Review: The Bruises – songwriters Aja Black and Jen Blue on guitars and vocals – create melodic distortion, a sound that is both pretty and edgy. The result is Connected, one of the boldest, coolest rock and roll statements I’ve heard in a while.

The obvious comparisons for me are to Veruca Salt, Belly, and the Breeders – three bands I enjoyed in my more alternative younger years. But I also hear anthemic late ‘70s-style power pop, gypsy punk, and a touch of metal.

The first two cuts, “Perfect Vision” and “Dancing Is Dangerous,” are infectious, insistent rockers, the latter boasting fun synth riffs. They remind me of all the great music I heard on a show called “Riding the New Wave,” out of WVUD-FM in Dayton, Ohio, back in 1980 or so. Another standout, “Black and Blue,” is also in this vein, but darker.

Drummer Derrick Hostetter anchors the band, and his work is right-on in the thundering instrumental break in “Distraction” and the pulsing “Wake Up.” He also contributes percussive flourishes to the spooky, Zen koan-by-way-of-metal “Found (Interlude).”

“Hold Me Down” is exotic and even a bit sinister, buoyed by chiming minor-key guitars. In fact, Aja and Jen’s guitar work throughout the album is striking – big, ringing, and buzz-sawing, like an Edge/Roger McGuinn/Ray Davies hybrid.

This disc is also a vocal treat, not sticky-sweet but buoyant enough to give me goosebumps. “Wake Up” is a good one for that, as is the triumphant “Safety In Recovery.” And the best is the brilliant “Here’s To Us.”

As I finish up this review and listen to “Hott Damn,” the fist-pumping closer with the sing-along chorus, I realize The Bruises' Connected is a rarity – every single song on it is a winner.

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