For several years, the San Francisco Bay Area has possessed the most vibrant rock scene in the country. The baroque-pop grandeur of the Loud Family; the lysergic hover-sprawl of the Brian Jonestown Massacre; the falling-down folk-punk cow-flap of Barbara Manning; the demon-fed glam waste-product posture of Vue; the narco-damaged Chuck Berry/Johnny Thunders chug of the Richmond Sluts; Craig Ventresco's neo-ragtime wrangling; the Donnas' metallic lip-gloss pucker-up -- the scene just doesn't quit. Now from Oakland comes the Pattern, who may be the brashest example yet of the "new rock" not just from NoCal but from anywhere.
Evidence? Real Feelness, the band's full-length debut. From the opening notes of the first cut, "Fragile Awareness," the tone and tempo for the whole album is set: maximum energy with jackknife riffs and a youthful zeal that spells wild-in-the-streets abandon in the same way as such previous punk contenders as the MC5, Bikini Kill, and the Hellacopters. Seldom does the Pattern fail to connect on that most essential level that even the brashest bashers (the Hives, for instance) usually miss. "Nothing of Value" manifests the careening abandon of first-wave Brit-punk, where almost metallic riffery adorns "Thunder Us." Like the Hellacopters, the Pattern is totally dedicated to the notion of rock as the final frontier of human emotion. What's impressive is that, on most occasions, it actually reaches that frontier. It also wears the kind of consummate arrogance that only totally youthful bands who are totally on top of their game -- "scoring" in every way -- can get away with.
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"Selling Submarines" parrots stuttering '60s-style mania with faster tempos, while the teen-revo anthem "The Best Hate the Rest" brims with the same intense melodic flair and youthful idealism. Except for the utterly lousy closing tune, "Rangefinder," every song on this album is worthy of enshrinement. The "rock revival" -- if such a thing exists -- begins and ends right here. Get it now.