The Girl All The Bad Guys Want
From the Attic, Damone’s RCA debut, will be marketed as a pop-punk bop-fest, built from the ground up to compete with the Sum 41s and Good Charlottes of the world. Hotshot mixer Tom Lord-Alge (Fuel; Mest; Sum 41) has guaranteed the comparison by making the combo’s bratty nuggets of J-V Veruca Weezer power anthems snarl with vintage radio single ferocity. The suburban Boston-based Damone has another built-in marketing trick: lead singer and rhythm guitarist Noelle LeBlanc. A skinny teenager with a mess of dyed-dark hair dripping across her pouty mug, LeBlanc nevertheless packs quite a wallop into her whispy, Kay Hanley-ish vocals. (The comparison has been made before, but it’s a good one: Hanley fronted the sugary Boston power-pop band Letters to Cleo, who made a name for themselves covering new wave hits for summer movie soundtracks). And whether LeBlanc likes it or not, I have odds that says RCA will bank on making her their very own female teenage rockderkind.
This isn’t a bad thing. Whatever the amount of cash behind the success of Avril Lavigne and the rest, the fact remains that these girls can sing, often play guitar, and have helped re-write the adolescent trend TrapperKeeper. Damone’s debut should only add another page. Tracks like “Frustrated Unnoticed,” “Overchay With Me,” and “You and I,” resound with goofy couplets about supposed romantic teen love; they rock with a 1970s arena rock bottom end, but are topped off with LeBlanc’s just amateurish to be charming delivery. If over half of these songs don’t make it into the opening sequences of this summer’s spate of teen movies, then there’s something very wrong with Hollywood music supervisors. Why shouldn’t they? They’re perfect for summertime and sound great coming out of a radio. Besides, it worked for Letters to Cleo.
(Strange side note: Every song on From the Attic was written by Damone guitarist Dave Pino while he himself was a lovelorn teenage Camaro driver, desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend. The songs sat on a shelf unused until Pino and some other types hooked up with the high school-aged LaBlanc, the sister of a mutual friend. A few clever pronoun twists later, and Pino’s heartbreak is a hot ticket to teen-oriented punk revival stardom. Ain’t life grand?)