Red Planet are choreographed for stardom. The CD artwork shows
young, endearingly scruffy guys flaunting beers, Van Halen and Donnas albums and other party
records -- and none of the songs on Let's Degenerate suggest that their
wild looks and lust for rock are anything but genuine. Whereas the Ramones
created something new by pitting their passion for Phil Spector against
pills, B-movies and a streetwise recklessness, Red Planet turns mostly to
eighties groups. Their results cannot be as brilliant, because their
inspirations aren't as strong, and they hardly the first to exploit them -- but they are
damn, damn good.
I can only expect that all the hype for Red Planet's live shows ("Best at
SXSW", etc.) is deserved. Listen to this CD through headphones, or at a
party with volume turned up loud, and you'll find at least four songs ("Get
Back at You", "Continental Divide", the title track, and "You Got Me") that
sound like classics. I like "Get Back at You" more than the Romantics' "What I Think About You"
(and would have even if they'd been released at the same time), while
"You Got Me" royally beats all of Red Planet's favorite hair metal bands at
their own game. Not only is it catchier and simpler than the best of Poison
and Motley Crue, but it possesses all the personality ("Your smile, your lips,
your love-me hips/You hugged me close when we watched CHiPs") of old
Dictators songs. It is also, for that matter, the first song I've heard that uses the verb "to cum" effectively.
When you add up all of Red Planet's great ingredients -- the look, the
attitude, the songs, the relevant subject matter ("Wasted Teens", "Let's Go
All the Way"), and the successful use of the verb "to cum" -- and then factor in
in their unpretentiousness and their tremendous, Michael Schenker-like
guitar solos, you'll get some idea why I no longer unequivocally tout the
Rondelles as best American rock band these days. The new bosses have arrived.