Thursday, December 15, 2011

Music Reviews: The Flips - "Damn You, & Damn Me, Too"

Back in the mid/late 80s "alternative music" was more or less made by bands that didn't really fit into one specific style of music, be it rock, funk, punk or new wave. Bands like The Cure, R.E.M. and Violent Femmes were so all over the place musically that they couldn't be classified as one thing or another. So they were labeled "Alternative". But by the early 90s the label became too commercial for it's own good. EVERYONE wanted to be alternative...even if they musically were not. Be it as it may, the alternative scene in Chicago was blossoming with bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Urge Overkill. As popular as these bands may have gotten, even for a short period of time in the case of UO, you just knew it was going to die out and fade away at some point (even if they kept trudging along in one form or another).

But now, after years of crappy boy bands, teen pop, techno and dance music taking over the radio, whats old is new again. And new alternative bands pop up from time to time all around the globe. And Chicago is no different.

 The Flips are a young trio from Chicago's south side who play alternative music in the vein of early Smashing Pumpkins and current Silversun Pickups. They play power chord heavy music with somber, dark lyrics that may be somewhat dated, but still pack a powerful punch.

The bands latest EP Damn You, & Damn Me Too is chuck full of angst and crunch. This is what the Pumpkins could have sounded like if Billy Corgan would have wrote every song in the style of "Cherub Rock". Strong on harmonies, clean guitar going into distortion and hard hitting drums, this album is a pretty good start for a new band trying to make a name for themselves in the new wave of alt rockers.

Songs like the album opener "Sharp As Knives" and "Matter Of Fact" have that slow to hard style that was big the 90s, but still hold up well in 2011. Just when you think the songs gonna stay in a quiet, soft tone it kicks in with heavy riffs and solid backbeat that will shake you to your inner core. I love it when a song can catch me off guard and take me to another place. And The Flips are damn good at doing just that.

"My Oh My", which not as heavy as the previous mentions, has an almost ballad style tune with amazing layered vocals and harmony that fits perfect between the rockers like, possibly the hardest tune on the album, "I'm Still". With everything heavy you gotta balance it with something mellow. And The Flips have that down to a science.

The band, Nick Sintos (guitar/vocals), Dustin Martin (guitar) and Mke Carlson (drums) have the chops to bring back alt rock in Chicago to the mainstream if given the chance. It's just a shame that radio isn't having any of it. But that shouldn't stop these guy's from doing what they love doing. With some time and care this band could make a name for themselves, not only here, but in other parts of the country as well.

If you still break out your old Lemonheads and R.E.M. albums from time to time, give The Flips a listen. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you hear.

4 / 5 stars.

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