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Debut discs by the newest generation of go-go bands, the Huck-a-bucks and Southeast Sounds, wrestle with that eternal go-go dilemma: Can a group step outside the occasionally restrictive boundaries of the genre and embrace the possibilities offered by more conventional songwriting techniques without losing the original style’s incantatory power?
The Huck-a-bucks’ Chronic Breakdown stresses straight-ahead, percussion-heavy go-go compositions, but also contains an R&B ballad and a keyboard-heavy midtempo funk selection. With nary a bass or horn player in sight, upbeat compositions such as “Get It Up!” and “Let’s Rock-A-While” are propelled by smooth but pulsating keyboards and drum grooves. While such numbers go on a little too long and feature clichéd “roll call” lyrics (e.g., “this is for the Southwest honeys”), they are more effective than their polished but overly familiar non-go-go counterparts.
Southeast Sounds emphasize pure, raw go-go with standard party lyrics, but B Street finds the group seasoning its musical mix with succinct vocal, instrumental, and sampled excerpts from a variety of outside sources. The spaghetti-western riffs on “Cowgirl,” the sinuous reggae touches on “Go-Go Makes the World Go Round,” and the looped flute flavorings on the title track flesh out the minimalist but visceral approach of this young outfit. Not all of the band’s borrowing works, however. The Sounds use of Rare Essence’s trademark phrase “ain’t no party like a [Southeast] party…,” suggests that the group’s songwriting style still needs to be refined. Both releases are available locally or from Liaison Records at (410) 880-6111.