The Ataris

The Ataris If recent alt-rock history has taught bands anything about how to keep their career out of the shitter, it´s (1) do not, under any circumstances, allow someone in the group to date Winona Ryder (see: Soul Asylum, Counting Crows, Lemonheads, Third Eye Blind, Jamiroquai), and (2) do not let the big breakthrough single be a cover of an ´80s pop song (see: Orgy, Alien Ant Farm, Frente!, Save Ferris). To my knowledge, no member of the Ataris ever got down with Miss Ryder, but after more than a decade together, the New York-via-California-via-Indiana band is really only known, and often disparaged, for its 2003 version of Don Henley´s ¨The Boys of Summer¨ from the album So Long, Astoria. The disc yielded no further hits, the follow-up was repeatedly delayed, and they were eventually dropped from their record label. There´s only one real antidote for such a poisonous turn of events: total reinvention. And so the Ataris, once purveyors of pedestrian pop-punk, have overhauled both their sound gunning for dark, moody, artsy sonics (think the Cure, Joy Division, the Killers circa Hot Fuss) on their recently released fifth album, Welcome the Night and their lineup, expanding to a seven-piece that includes cello and keyboards. Not that they´re turning into the Decemberists or the Arcade Fire, but clearly the Ataris are betting that these days, their old fans are more about the sounds of Coachella and the Pitchfork Music Festival than corny ´80s covers.
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Michael Alan Goldberg