Grown Up Avenger Stuff - Alive
Charlotte, North Carolina's Grown Up Avenger Stuff gets compared to a lot of other girl-fronted bands, but they're not really like any of them – at least not completely. These include Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (not quite as soulful), Dead Sera (not as punk) Yeah Yeah Yeahs (not as intense) and Florence and the Machine (not so exotic). Grown Up Avenger Stuff isn't like these other acts, but entirely unique in their own way.
The band that comes to mind during "Here," one of five tracks on the EP Alive, is Blondie, strangely enough. One is reminded of Blondie because Grown Up Avenger Stuff's singer, Deirdre Kroener, sings the song with a bit of spunk and a lot of fun. Maybe it's the track's galloping beat that gives it a Blondie vibe.
Nevertheless, this EP's title track's hard rock-isms veer even closer to an authentic Led Zeppelin metal pounder than Heart ever could. And that's saying something because Heart dearly loved the Zep (perhaps one could say, slavishly), so this is some pretty serious rubbing-off-ness. The track also goes into an extensive instrumental section, beginning with Tyler Thomsen's animalistic drum part, before giving way to John Thomsen's wild guitar work.
Vocalist Kroener is a wonderful bundle of energy. It's fun to hear her barely succeeding at showing restraint during "Now." You can tell she just wants to give it a few scratchy screams, the way she does during "Morning Noon and Night," (the only song on the EP – by the way – with more than one word in its title). There are parts of "Now," in fact, where Kroener sings quite sweetly. She could probably go all Karen Carpenter on is, if she wanted to. She just has too much of a lioness in her to ever scale back that far.
It seems like every time somebody pronounces rock dead, a band like Grown Up Avenger Stuff comes along to prove them wrong. Alive is a project that reveals rock & roll to be still alive and kicking. There's just something joyfully cathartic about rocking out, and Grown Up Avenger Stuff knows this from experience. Sure, you can shake your butt to R&B and various other dance forms. But nothing cleans out the soul's cobwebs better than loud guitars, pounding drums and a screaming vocalist.
Grown Up Avenger Stuff is also living proof that there are still women out there that don't want to be The Voice or American Idol divas, God bless 'em! Mom's may want their daughters to grow up to be Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, but dads – deep in their heart of hearts – dream of little girl rockers that grow up to rock the world. (Maybe that's just MY fantasy). Nevertheless, Kroener is a true rocking chick, and it just does the heart good to hear her letting loose with what God gave her.
Lastly, there's also a bit of garage rock spirit running through Alive that is really affirming. Not that there's anything wrong with polished rock & roll recordings, but when a band is willing and able to bash it out the way Grown Up Avenger Stuff does with this disc, it's a special kind of goodness. It's rougher, and somehow so much more organic.
Indeed, Grown Up Avenger Stuff kicks out the jams with plenty of youthful spirit.
Grown Up Avenger Stuff - Alive