trouser press: the 'bible' of alternative rock since 1983


Recipients of cult renown, via a self-released single last year, The Reds® hit upon a sound that rocked like the Cars, yet was as austere as BOC, and cloying as Iron Butterfly.  The 45 was ominously on-target and laughably inept — almost simultaneously — yet made Reds freaks of all who heard it.

Producer Davin Kershenbaum brought The Reds' sound to fruition — commercial, yet comfortably in the red.  The riff-centered and synth-iced sound of their single has become the rule here.  Songwriter/vocalist Rick Shaffer writes with the severity and lyrical pentameter of Tom Verlaine.  The difference between The Reds® and Television, however, is in the fleshing out process.  If Verlaine recorded "Luxury" it would sound foreboding despite the lyric's faint optimism.  The Reds®, on the other hand, run a few volts of Pere Ubu undersea cable electronics through, and the result almost qualifies for AOR.  Only "Joey," previously the A-side of another self-released 45, ultimately convinces, combining a political thrust with shades of "Friction."  The chilling result sets the tone for this most resolute of debut albums.

— Cary Baker