The new album by Portland’s Kleveland, even before I dropped it into my stereo, was one that I really wanted to like. As it’s fronted by a fairly kickass female lead singer, I’ll confess to holding it up to unfair expectations. Ever listening to and being a fan of older releases by Joan Jett (as part of the Runaways and on her own as a brilliant solo artist), Courtney Love (and her former band Hole) and The Donnas, I’ve just been itching for another woman to just grab the music industry by the balls and rock our socks off.
Kleveland’s Stephanie Smith, I’m glad to say, has the capability of doing so and having her name ultimately added to the ranks of great voices in rock. Period. Man or woman. From the vibrant punk riff of “Jonny Is A Klepto” as it kicks off the band’s self-titled sophomore release, Smith and company, to my ear’s delight, dive right in and proceed to lay down some of the catchiest rock songs that I’ve heard in quite a while.
Writing with drummer Danny Carbo and bassist Matt Krajicek, Smith’s vocals run rampant on songs dealing issues ranging from desperate moments spent in rehab (“ESP), secretly hooking up with someone at a hotel for less-than-pure motives (“Room In Your Name,” and a former lover that demolishes the bar she’s frequenting (“Sleep At Night), and just oozes the type of sleazy rock-star sensuality that’s been missing from the scene for a long long time…
When it comes down to it, in fact, the only fault I can find in this album, is its length. Coming in at just a smidgeon over 43 minutes, the 3 odd minutes or so that are given to the 13 songs, just seems to roar by much too fast. It barely gives me enough time to close my eyes and imagine Smith taking hold of my ears and assaulting them with the sounds she brings forth from her guitar and vocal chords.
Kleveland. They’re a great new band and they have created a great new album — that I’m grateful to them for, as it did more than satisfy my initial hopes. Check out their website, their myspace page, and then take yourself into town and look for them in your record store.