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article by: Michael Canter

04 May 2012

Album Review - The Wanton Looks

"Bad-girl harmonies (think Shangri-La’s) meet fuzzed-up guitar and relentless tempos. Sure it’s been done countless times before, but when it’s done well – with fizzy hooks and towering sing-along choruses – who can complain? Electromagnetic Force is aptly named, Demons stomps like Motorhead, the first chord on Worst Side of Me sounds like a bomb detonating."
~ Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune

Release Date: 31-March-2012
Genre: Garage Punk / Rock / Power Pop
Publisher: [c] 2012 Haughty Eyes Records
Label: Haughty Eyes Records
Time: 39m 37s
Review Date: 04-May-2012
Format: AAC (iTunes)
Jivewired Press Kit:  Not currently a member of Jivewired

Find it at:

Bandcamp | Amazon | iTunes

Track Listing:
01. Electromagnetic Force 4:02
02. Get Thru To You 3:10
03. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah 3:07
04. Worst Side Of Me 2:53
05. 86 Me 4:00
06. All I Want Is You 3:57
07. Demons 3:35
08. All Your Fault 2:28
09. Come On 3:05
10. Used & Abused 3:04
11. Forget You 2:44
12. Neverending 3:33


Though The Wanton Looks were probably not even born at the time,  the all-female Chicago quartet appear to have a direct line back to early 1980s L7, back when punk and garage rock were not a term of abuse or dilution and alt-fashion and resistance to New Romaticism was on par with an anti-nuclear protest.  Look, The Wanton Looks bring the heat - the guitars are detonative, the bass lines are aureate and those female voices resemble sirens, coaxing you on to their rocks with angst and fury and swimming in lust and extravagance , i.e. wantonness.  Bombshells.  Sirens.  Incendiary. Yes, the band is aptly named.  The music is just as sexy.

Sexual decadence aside, what truly earmarks the Wanton Looks is their music, and their re-imagination of a genre that is both reverent and fresh at the same time.  You don't tread lightly when you listen to this album.  You are all in or all out and though it is by no means instant, it's inspired pace and libertine attitude will leave you with little room for respite.  I've seen descriptions that range from balls-to-the-walls to infectious, frenzied and cocksure.  That's certainly accurate.  I'd add firebrand, intimidating, vivacious and stunning. 

When it comes to wonderfully hook-laden, power-pop, garage punk, nothing I have heard in the past few years compares with the song 86 Me.  It's almost pure pop, but virulently so, with enough acerb to satisfy almost any true punker.  In any other decade the song would sell gazillions - I'll leave it at that and avoid getting fired up on the state of the industry.  86 Me is fast and furious with attitude and yes, balls, but it's fun as well.  And that puts it head and shoulders above a lot of the power pop that's out today.  Purists will say punk can't be fun and that power pop and punk should never collide.  I'd counter with the following:  Blitzkrieg Bop and Sheena Is A Punk Rocker by The Ramones, Patti Smith's rendition of Gloria and Green Day's Longview.  With each of those examples, 86 Me stands shoulder to shoulder amongst it's peers.

As good and as timeless as 86 Me is, Electromagnetic Force is even better, and probably my favorite song on the album.  Originally from their 2009 EP,  Electromagnetic Force is a raucous, amp-thumping jam that represents everything great about The Wanton Looks:  rabid guitars, ebullient bass and seething vocals actuated by blast-pack sounding drums that would make a performance Harley with true duals jealous.  The ladies throw themselves bodily and without hesitation into this song with a celebratory, adrenalized enthusiasm that is almost overwhelming at times.  There's an immediacy to their sound, almost radio-friendly but untouched by the vagaries of sounding sold-out.

To be honest, there's not a bad song on this album, and in fact, most are true standouts.  You'll get through the first listen having a tough time trying to choose favorites.  Get Thru To You is utterly fantastic, as is Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, but aside from Electromagnetic Force and 86 Me, if I had to pick a song that I could just put on repeat and enjoy, it would probably be Worst Side Of Me.  This is a great representation by The Wanton Looks of true, hard core punk, and it's thrashing sound reminds me of Wild Flag, but with just a bit more vim and venom - a pleasing muscularity with a titanic thump and crunch that is wildly sexy.

There are few greater pleasures than seeing a band develop, and this first, full-length release by The Wanton Looks is a great barometer of what they offer and better still, what's yet to come.  Careers are built on the principles of progression, but often at times a landmark debut can catapult a band to the fast track of success.  Certainly this release provides The Wanton Looks with all the ammunition they need to make that leap.  The reliably fickle tastes of hit makers notwithstanding - and bearing in mind that we are still just four months into the year -  don't be surprised to find these girls featured prominently on many 2012 end-of-year best-of lists.  In the more immediate term, you can expect The Wanton Looks to gather serious momentum as summer progresses.

About The Wanton Looks:

Traci Trouble:  Bass/Lead Vocals
Meg Thomas:  Drums/Vocals
Inga Olson: Guitars/Vocals
Suzie Q. Winn: Guitars/Vocals

The Wanton Looks are a rock-tastic pop-gasm hailing from Chicago, IL. Their music consists of catchy riffs, deep-rooted harmonies, fuzz-tone chords and thumping beats that packs a punch and leaves you begging for more.

Traci Trouble's bass and vocals are electrifying. Her all-out balls-to-the-wall stage presence is fueled by Meg Thomas' animalesque explosion on the drums. Inga Olson wields her guitar like a sharp knife cutting up infectious leads while Susie Q's hard-driving rhythm completes their 4-piece punk-rock-fueled dynamic. Their chemistry and passion are exhilarating on stage, and their love of music and dedication to the rock gods of days past is exciting and contagious. They will break your face and your heart. 

Favorite Music/Influences: 

Ramones, Misfits, Joan Jett, Hole, The Distillers, Muffs, Stooges, Pixies, Breeders, Dead Kennedys, Buzzcocks, Damned, Cramps, Sonics, Beatles, Elvis

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