Jail Weddings | Love Is Lawless

White Noise (2010)
By MICHAEL MAROTTA  |  November 16, 2010
4.0 4.0 Stars

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Turns out there's more to music in Southern California than just bratty lo-fi surf pop, vanilla Laurel Canyon indie rock, and flashy 4 am electro. There's a voice, way out there, just itching and aching to break free from the heartbroken streets of Los Angeles and shut down every bar outta town. That voice belongs to worn-torn Gabriel Hart, an other-coast scenester who honed his craft with punk band the Starvations and re-emerges with vengeance here with Jail Weddings. Taking a mix of '60s pop and doo-wop and distilling it through punch-drunk rock anthemia, Hart channels his inner basso Scott Walker and Elvis Costello and fronts a 10-piece throwback revue band complete with more-than-token dual-backing-vocal wing women: world-weary blonde Katya Nadia Hubiak and saucy brunette Jada Wagensomer. Love Is Lawless plays out like a movie soundtrack, from the minute-long opening-credit grand balladry of "How Am I Alive" to the tolerable ska-infected swing of "When We're Together (We Let Ourselves Go)." The wintry bravado of "I Thought You Were Someone I Knew" points toward the midpoint climax of "What Did You Do with My Gun," which opens with a nod to the Cars' "Just What I Needed" before Hart croons his miserable-but-on-the-mend-and-looking-for-answers ass off. It's easy to check off the old-school influences here (Shangri-Las, Phil Spector) but Love Is Lawless is striking in its modernity, and an unexpected album-of-the-year contender.

  Topics: CD Reviews , Phil Spector, music review, Southern California
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