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Lesterjett makes its alma mater proud

By David Espinoza

THE UC SANTA CRUZ music major program has produced many exceptional solo artists and bands over the years, but rarely have they been as unabashedly pop as Lesterjett. Listening to the local trio's self-titled seven-song EP, it's easy to picture a music professor resigning over the years of training being blown on rock & roll. Indeed, while music major graduate members of Estradasphere have earned much respect by stitching together the most unlikely of genres, contemporaries Lesterjett concentrate their talents on writing presumably the bane of all music departments: pop songs. But good songwriting never receives enough credit, and musicians Zach Ehrlich, Iain Mann and Alexi Glickman are way ahead of most bands in town.

Throughout the EP, the trio manages to retain every ounce of high-brow nobility in its three-to-four-minute gems. Where some bands might write brilliant and complex chord progressions but keep everything instrumental, Lesterjett steps out of the box and sings--and that says a lot. Ehrlich, Mann and Glickman all harmonize incredibly well, even though on an individual basis they push their voices to straining peaks, like on "When Will You Stop Neglecting Me?" The Radiohead and Weezer comparisons barely stick as Lesterjett's style really sounds more like late -'70s artists such as Elvis Costello or the Police. (Some might refer to it as a brief period where white male musicians turned black reggae "rebel" music into an intellectual endeavor.) Live, the guys sport ties, more in a gesture toward professional musicianship than self-loathing like so many emo bands. The third song, "Girlfriend Market," is the only dud of the album, with the rest of the tunes full of snappy fun.

Coming Up

The newly formed Triple Forte Records will release its first album, Rocksluts, on Thursday (Jan. 10) at the 418 Project to benefit UCSC's HIV Prevention program. A compilation of local bands that played last year's annual benefit at Porter College, the album includes live recordings by such notables as Estradasphere, the Automatones, the Creeps, Hate Mail Express and Oliver Brown. Thursday's show will feature Illumination, the Automatones, the Creeps, and Tracer Bullet. Be forewarned, the gig isn't scheduled to begin until 10pm.

Hate Mail Express is hitting the recording studio this month in preparation for its first full-length effort in who knows how many years (OK, the band has only been together for so long but it's played enough shows in town by now to have made three albums).

Loop de Loop

On Sunday (Jan. 13) at the Cayuga Vault, Rick Walker brings back the loops (as in looping effects) with six-string bass samurai Steve Lawson, local guitarist Bill Walker, Mark Harmon and Mike Roe. (Last year, Walker organized the first solo bass looping festival just across the street at the Rio Theatre to a decent-sized crowd--the turnout might have had something to do with the show being free.) Speaking of Cayuga Vault shows, big heads-up on local foursome Blueprint, which will be debuting its incredibly well-produced album, Maybe Wednesday. Since this show will most likely sell out, especially if the Gin Blossoms and Smashmouth fans get wind of the show, my recommendation is to skip work, line up outside before sunup and get an early place in line.

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From the January 9-16, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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