Short Cuts

-- Manuel Pila

The Interpreters
Back in the U.S.S.A.
(Freeworld Recordings)
The Delta 72
The Soul of a New Machine
(Touch and Go)

The Interpreters are three Philadelphia boys who fire off short rounds of gotta-get-laid rock with an energy that hasn't been heard since Paul Weller was leading the Jam. On Back in the U.S.S.A., Herschel Gaer (vocals and bass), Patsy Palladino (guitar), and Branko Jakominich (drums) race through sixteen tracks of crisp, fast, modern power-pop, with nods to the Buzzcocks, 20/20, the Knack, the Kinks and anyone else who's ever chanted "Do do do" or "Hey!"

From the opening machine-gun drum salvo of "Lucky Day" to the phallic power chords of the final track, "Today and Every Day," Back in the U.S.S.A. is a series of invigorating quickies; most songs get in and out at just under three minutes. The Interpreters do it every way possible: high school garage-rock ("Glorious"), late-period Mod ("Take It Away"), even early '70s glam ("Taking It Over"). They also sing in adorable fake British accents. Clocking in at just under 39 minutes, the CD is over so fast -- and the rush is so good -- that it demands to be played again and again until numbness finally sets in.

If The Interpreters are avowed Anglophiles, The Delta 72 is decidedly Afrocentric. The Washington, D.C.-based band plays well-trashed, punked-up blues and R&B on The Soul of a New Machine, its second full-length album. By now the band has learned to live with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion comparisons, but while Spencer's bluesman shtick sometimes borders on blackface parody, The Delta 72 plays it straight. The result is a punk band whose biggest influences just happen to be James Brown and Brother Jack McDuff.

Gregg Foreman, the group's lead singer and guitarist, squawks rancorously on "Monopoly of Your Mouth" and "Floorboard Shake," but it's the band's musical dynamism that brings these eleven songs to a high boil. "The Cut" is a tight little funk track with Foreman's sloppy blues guitar and a steamy horn section, "Scratch" showcases Sarah Stolfa's ever-juicy Farfisa organ, and "Blow Out" gives Foreman an excuse to blow all his wrath through his harp. Bruce Reckhan (bass) and Jason Kourkounis (drums) lay down the funk rhythms with an irrepressible punk-rock streak. If the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was the Big Bang of trash-blues, The Delta 72 is easily one of the fiercest comets to come hurtling out of the chaos.

(Both The Interpreters and The Delta 72 will perform Thursday, February 12, at Churchill's Hideaway, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $6. Call 305-757-1807.)

-- Rafer Guzman

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