Kleveland: Harder

kleveland_harderKick-ass rock from Portland, OR

The melodic cascade of assertive words emanating from Kleveland singer/guitarist Stephanie Smith may remind you of Chrissie Hynde, but the band’s manic guitar attack borrows more from the aggression of metal and punk than the Pretenders much managed after their debut album. There are echoes of other bands with female leads, such as X and the Alley Cats, but Kleveland rocks harder, as if the Runaways’ chops had lived up to their ambitions, The Pandoras’ detour into metal had been more musical, or punk rockers like Civet or the Distillers took a breath once in awhile to decimate the objects of their derision rather than just cuss at them. Smith may not have Pat Benetar’s operatic range, but she’s got the same ballsy Attitude, and unconstrained by the niceties of MTV it’s something of a wash. It’s hard to imagine a VJ introducing the vampire gore of “You’re Not Sorry,” with its stinging rebuke “You’re not sorry you did it, you’re sorry you got caught,” or the acoustic “Sloppy Seconds” with its opening stanza “I’ll admit that I was kind of upset, when I heard that you were out fuckin’ my ex-, and the body wasn’t even cold yet, but that don’t bother you”). Kleveland quiets down on a couple of tracks, including the closing lament “It’s Over,” but it’s loud guitar rock that’s their calling card, combining the sonic punch of 1970s rock with the in-your-face confrontation of punk. Anyone else remember Sue Saad and the Next? Kleveland’s heavier and more lyrically fierce, but the combination of rhythm guitars and assertive female vocals may take you back. [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]

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