I watch a hell of a lot of Cheers episodes thanks to that timesucking modern technological wonder called Netflix Instant. Perilously nearing the end of Shelley Long’s unforgettable tenure on the show, I benefit from the hindsight in knowing that the groundbreaking sitcom survived her departure and continued on for a number of successful seasons with Kirstie Alley as Ted Danson’s feisty feminine foil.
No doubt paralleling that first outing without Long, the absence of Julie Christmas looms large over Bad Powers, a would-be successor to the cult angular metallic noise rock quartet Made Out Of Babies. A potent presence in the latter, Christmas menaced audiences and drew upon dark parts of the heart for manic on-record performances that still give me chills. As she’s already released a solo album, the challenge at hand for Chris Cooper, Matthew Egan and Brendan Tobin is to prove that band wasn’t merely a vehicle for her.
Even with new vocalist Megan Tweed, Bad Powers doesn’t deviate much from the formula that Made Out Of Babies excelled with. And while they had the good sense to rename and rebrand, one can’t help but realize we’re getting day old bread. Easing up on the distortion pedal to let the post-punk through and dabbling with strings and synths would be fine if Bad Powers’ songs had the hooks to survive the exercise. What’s worse,Tweed doesn’t appear to have a grasp on how to break herself out, succumbing multiple times to impressions of Christmas’ shrieking, howling vocal histrionics. “Chineseish” marks a rare moment where the group isn’t totally on auto-pilot, and the appearance of Oxbow’s masculist titan Eugene Robinson on “Millennium” ups the ante, but neither instance can rise above the apparent gravedigging surrounding it on all sides.