Nothing less should be expected from this Portland, Oregon, four-piece in the live setting, where its familiarity with pop constructs is combined with an enveloping surrealism in which everyone is interesting, good-looking and poor. If the choice is either to get on this Dandy bus or not, the band makes it far easier than most to jump on board, where you're practically guaranteed to enjoy the ride.
Somewhat more direct is the Nashville-based Teen Idols, progenitors of melodic punk rock smack-dab in the countrified confines of Music City. By combining the three-part harmonies of '50s doo-wop, the attitude of the same period's rebel rock and the upbeat pace of late-'70s pogo punk, these Idols have created a sound that appeals beyond standard punk circles. So broad is the Idols' draw, in fact, that one of their initial recordings from the early '90s was nominated for Independent Recording of the Year by the Nashville Music Association, allowing the band to rub elbows with fellow nominees Vince Gill and Alison Krauss.
Launched while all the members were still in high school, the Idols had their share of stability problems, including one member who was fired because she refused to ride in the same van as the rest of the band or to carry her own guitar. But by the fall of 1996, the current lineup was set, and the resulting momentum pushed the group into national circles.
While on one of their umpteen tours across the country, the Teen Idols were spotted by Ben Weasel (of Screeching Weasel/Riverdales), who decided the band had what it took, both visually and musically, to succeed, and he was just the man to make it happen. Weasel co-produced the band's self-titled debut CD in 1997. The rest isn't quite history -- lots of households are still unfamiliar with the quartet -- but the combination of musical grit and vocal polish could help these Idols carve a little niche for themselves in the market.