Music » Critics' Picks

The Shazam

Friday, April 25; Off Broadway


OK, nobody wants to hear about another band channeling the spirit of 1976, especially not one with a name that starts with "the." But the Shazam, from Nashville, are on a whole different frequency than the garage-rock revivalists who put Television and Richard Hell back into name-dropping circulation. The Shazam don't sound at all like a CBGB band; they're into big-time hook-heavy, FM-radio, arena-size power pop, perfect for a sweaty makeout session in the back of a Camaro. An old Camaro.

On their latest record, Tomorrow the World, the band -- which consists of singer/guitarist Hans Rotenberry, drummer Scott Ballew, bassist Mick Wilson and guitarist Jeremy Asbrock -- has added a little more power to its pop, leaning more toward Cheap Trick than Big Star. Even the slow songs, such as "Not Lost Anymore," are stripped of the shimmering psychedelia that marked the Shazam's two previous albums. After nine years of touring, the group has figured out what works: Finally the records live up to the promise of the live shows.

And the Shazam does put on a show. Here in the U.S., they usually play at small clubs, but they've honed their set on big stages in the U.K., where they've had enormous critical support and moderate commercial success. That hasn't quite translated here at home, but it won't keep the Shazam from making Off Broadway feel a lot bigger on the inside than it really is.

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