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NYCSmoke - For The Posers
(Smoke Recordings)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 2, 2002


Tony Bonyata

With a gritty, angst-ridden sound, swimming in infectious melodies and packed with more hooks than a shipload of one-handed pirates, singer/songwriter/ guitarist Howie Statland has seemed to have found his niche with his new band NYCSmoke.
After recording five albums and touring extensively with his former New York-based post-grunge band Thin Lizard Dawn, Statland then went onto experiment with the lo-fi musical project Low Flame, which pricked the ears of avant-garde composer Philip Glass. This later lead to a collaboration between Statland and Glass on a score for a Ralph Steiner film.
On NYCSmoke's debut album, For The Posers, though, the experimental sounds associated with the likes of Philip Glass, or Low Flame for that matter, are nowhere to be found. While this may not be the most artistically inventive material, it is, nonetheless, brimming with edgy, well-written and honestly performed numbers that hearken back to the alt-rock sounds of the early '90s without smacking of syrupy nostalgia. Imagine New York City's Lower East Side via Seattle - sort of Nirvana-meets-The Strokes.
From the opening breakneck strains of "Balance" and "Harbor," complete with Stonesy harmonies and vocals that turn from apathetic to burning passion on a dime, the similarities to artists like Kurt Cobain and Paul Westerberg seem natural. That is until Statland breaks free from comparisons on the irresistible pop-infused rockers such as "Fallout," "Lies" and "The Letter," featuring swelling guitars that shine amid a beautifully haunting chorus.
Of the eleven songs on For The Posers, Statland and his bandmates - guitarist Rob Perez, drummer Jon Weber and bassist Martin Ewens, keep the pedal of this garage-pop joyride to the floorboards, only slowing down long enough to deliver the gentle "Lullabye."
"I don't wanna be bigger than anybody," Statland screams on the catchy track "Bigger," but if he manages to muster up more interesting material this strong, it seems that he's going about it all the wrong way.

NYCSmoke will be performing Saturday, August 10th at 9:00pm at The Metro in Chicago.

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