If any one band is going to save rock and roll, then it's going to be The Stereotypes. Period. Mixing classic rock influences (Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys) with a hybrid of power-pop, garage-rock and punk, the San Diego quintet also boasts a considerable hook quotient that will make you instantly remember just about every song they've ever written. Skeptical? Just take a listen to last year's "2," which managed to pack more great songs into a half-hour than most groups have in their entire catalog. That dedication to great songwriting is further evident on "3," their new album, and further proof that The Stereotypes are a uniquely talented band in a music industry teeming with imitators and bullshit artists.
Recorded once again at the band's own Earthling studio by guitarists Mike Kamoo (who also plays drums on the album) and Dante Conti, "3" takes the core of what made its predecessor so good and expands on it. Arrangements are more motivated this time, thanks mainly to the notable inclusion of mellotron and organ on many of the tracks and a cleaner, more upfront production. Singer John Finkbiner is much more the star here than he was on "2," and his larger presence is felt immediately on the album's first track and current single "Emily," which takes the three-minute pop song format and makes it sound important again. It sticks in your head immediately, in spite of its rather odd blend of styles and sound in general. Think Pavement meets the Beach Boys.
There are plenty of pop gems on "3" that sound like instant classics. "Til We Meet Again" or "Down To Earth" could be out-and-out hits given the right exposure, yet it's the darker, dirtier songs on "3" that really stand out and make the album a leap forward artistically for the band. Songs like "Kill Keys, Money & Jewelry" and in particular, "Need Some Action" possess a Stooges-like swagger that threatens to spin completely out of control, pushing the tracks to their breaking points, all the while remaining as catchy as can be. Shades of Marc Bolan and Heroes-era Bowie are also touchpoints throughout the album, although what The Stereotypes have always managed to do so successfully is to show all their influences openly without ever sounding like anyone but themselves.
Included with "3" is a bonus disc called "The Leftovers EP," consisting of five tracks that didn't make it to the album plus a with-vocal version of the instrumental "Dontcha Think." There's some great stuff here, and I like to think of the EP as "3 �" rather than leftovers. "Ice Cold Kisses" is especially good, as is the long time live staple "Dark Room." In all, that's sixteen songs and no filler. That's a lot of bang for your buck. Isn't about time you felt like you got your money's worth out of an album for once? Here's your chance. Go buy "3."
Stylistically open to individual interpretation but always wholly original, The Stereotypes' "3" is everything you could possibly want out of a rock album. It shows how powerful and fresh music can be when it's written and played with substance, soul and style. "Crackle and hiss / put the needle down and feel the sound / rush into the room / like a rock and roll record." Amen and Hallelujah.
- Mark Horan | 2005-06-20