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Shapes of Race Cars
May 2007

The strangely named L.A. trio, Shapes of Race Cars, specializes in glossy glam anthems as filtered through a post-emo, pop rock blender. Slender guitar lines and versatile layers of instrumental ornamentation (twinkling pianos, pulsing synths, etc…) are paired with sugary melodics, instantly bringing to mind nineties Chicago pop rock groups (from Urge Overkill to Woolworthy and Kill Hannah).

The slightly boneheaded swagger of opener, “Power” is quickly one-upped by tracks like “Passenger” and “Captain,” where the early-on egoist leanings open up to more graceful excursions into heartfelt sentiment and momentary melancholy. On “Tokyo,” the group’s songwriter and lead vocalist, Dylan Champion chirps, “If Tokyo was blown away I’d be really sad,” before stringing together a lengthy semi-incoherent sentence about “billionaires” and “tiny rooms”. But it works to evoke the drunken mentality of confusion and pain stemming from a lost opportunity to be with his “little girl,” and the glowering realization that he doesn’t even have her photograph to ignite his passion.

Where “Tokyo” connects via choked up verbal confusion, but never quite reaches an aural counterpoint, “Captain” destructs (in a good way) within silky, intertwining chorus melodies and shivering keyboard-and-guitar bombast. It’s a top-down-on-Sunset-Strip type of melody that could only end with kaleidoscopic vocal canons and swirling electric fuzz.

“Kraftwerk (Invented The Disco Beat),” while arguable in its assessment of music history, pulls together a catchy call-and-hook chorus and considerably danceable chops. “Apocalype Hurts” harkens back to once-embarrassing arena rock sensibilities and goofball lyrics (i.e. “yeah it’s wild so skip the rope and rhyme”), while managing to drift lightly on a tidal wave of flanging guitars. While Shapes of Race Cars falters slightly with the Ramones-style spell-alongs of “Sound the Alarm,” Power stands on its own as a tasty rush of pop-rock adrenaline.

Favorite Track: Track 5, "Captain”

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Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in San Francisco with a girl and a designer dog (Chihuahua vs. dachshund). He is in a band by himself and has a myspace account ( and a production company ( for freelance film and crit/journo work.

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