! = recommended
* = all-ages
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The Cute Lepers are the sonic equivalent of a Payday bar. They satisfy many cravings in a tasty, self-contained unit. They are a little punk, a little pop, a little 70's, a little 80's and a LOT of energy. Cleverly non-de-plumed Steve E. Nix and company incorporate the noise, crunch and jangle that makes punk rock so much fun, but make it more accessible for pop fans with their sweet harmonies, tight instrumentation, and almost breezy, playful attitude. This is a band that loves music and musicians and it shows.
Upon a close listen, you can hear elements of Buzzcocks-inspired punk, the Come Ons or Von Bondies-style garage, and an Elvis Costello / Jim Carrol hybrid in the vocal stylings of Nix. There are whiffs here and there of an almost new-wave sound, in the vein of the Waitresses or the Plimsouls, to whom they are often compared, which creates an altogether innovative and interesting approach to pop-punk as a genre and exceeds expectations of a band with that label. Though the genre "pop-punk" often inspires a wave of eye rolls, The Cute Lepers serve as the band that will make em stick mid-way, just like your mama warned you. They do not simply repeat the same three chords on every track. There are actual variations in the music and vocals! No song sounds the same, and none of them sound like a pastiche or parroting, a welcome game changer to the genre on the whole.
This Friday marks the release of their second album Smart Accessories at the Funhouse. If you're in the mood for feel good music, dancing, and to possibly rupture your eardrums with some dirty rock and roll, The Cute Lepers might be just the band to scratch all your itches. Not unlike a dwarf hamster, they appear cute and fuzzy, but watch out! They have teeth! If you're considering checking out the Haiti Relief Benefit at the Tractor on 1/31 (which they will be performing at), consider this a preview of one of the many excellent bands that will be feature that evening.
Preview tracks from Smart Accessories are available on their MySpace page. "Berlin Girls" is an exceptionally good track, should you need a suggestion...
Looking for something else? There are a lot of great shows on Friday. May we suggest: