Tag Archives: Smoke & Mirrors

Under The Radar: The Downbeat 5

No smoke, no mirrors. Just IN YOUR FACE rock'n'roll

No smoke, no mirrors. Just IN YOUR FACE rock'n'roll!

The Downbeat 5 was formed a decade ago by legendary Boston rocker J.J.Rassler, whom many of you might know from the band DMZ (along with future Lyres member Jeff Connolly). Rassler’s then-wife Jen shared a love for all things Dolls, Stooges and garage, tempered with a melodic pulse yet a fiery pace, and her prowling, howling vocals were the perfect complement to the piston engine that drove most of the songs in their repetoire.

Smoke and Mirrors was recorded live in a studio full of friends and guests, and the band proved it doesn’t know any speed but full. Plowing through some well chosen covers from The Kinks, The Yardbirds and The Velvet Underground along with a few of their own songs, The Downbeat 5 sound like The Detroit Cobras on a Red Bull buzz. I would have loved to have had my ears pinned back that night at Q Division studios!

Jen – now called Jen D’Angora – has the same gutteral yelp as The MuffsKim Shattuck, while Rassler plays the Johnny Ramone role by thrashing out infectious power chords and stinging guitar fills. But the band wouldn’t be half as much fun without the piledriving rhythm section of bassist Mike Yocco and drummer extraordinaire Eric Almquist (a monster player). Plus you have to love a band that thanks Ed Koch, Ratso Rizzo and the Olsen Twins in their liner notes…

The band’s 2005 release Victory Motel is sadly out of print (ping me if you have it!) but Ism is still available, and with a cut on the latest Little Steven Coolest Songs collection getting attention, hopefully there will be more albums to come. You’d be hard pressed to top this one for pure adreneline, though. 

The Downbeat 5 website.

The Downbeat 5 MySpace page..

The Downbeat 5 rip the stuffing out of “Shake“.

A rousing  “Dum Dum Ditty“, now rocking the Underground Garage.

downbeat 5 live


Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews

NEW ALBUM! The Datsuns

Calm down, gebts - that's not what you think it means.

Easy, gents - that doesn't mean what you think.

Fourth album from the New Zealand rockers, and thank god some of the young pups are breathing some fire into their rock’n’roll. Earlier this decade they shot out of a cannon with their debut record, caught up in the feeding frenzy when Jet, The Hives, The Strokes and The White Stripes and other similar bands managed to infuse hard rock with garage chops and punk attitude and whet the appetites of the labels. With Led Zep’s John Paul Jones at the knobs for the followup, everyone expected worldwide domination.


Sophomore slump be damned…Outta Sight Outta Mind wasn’t a bad record but seemed to douse whatever flames were lit beforehand. Soaked badly enough that their third album (Smoke &Mirrors) didn’t even register – many people thought they were two and done. So I guess this time around The Datsuns figured they’d torch the place.

Read my review of Headstunts in Blurt Magazine.

Wikipedia entry for The Datsuns.

Yeah Yeah, Just Another Mistake“, live in March 2009.

No way this song gets on morning radio. But props for covering The Ramones.

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Filed under Music, Reviews