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Melodramatic post-punk from
the Bluegrass State

Chico Fellini - Chico Fellini
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: June 29, 2009
Chico Fellini

Review by Tony Bonyata

Apparently there's something in the water down in Lexington, KY... or perhaps in the moonshine, as this southern city has been producing some of the most talented and unique rock acts hovering around the radar of influential music taste-makers for the last few years. The Apparitions, The Scourge of The Sea, songbird Neva Geoffrey, Vandaveer and now Chico Fellini, a quartet that specializes in angular post-punk that's as infectious as it is polarizing.

While many of the players of the aforementioned bands have interchanged between acts at various times, the one common denominator for much of this great sound emerging out of the 'Horse Capital of the World' is producer and guitarist Duane Lundy, who has helmed the boards for all of these fantastic acts at his Lexington-based recording studio Shangri-la Productions. While Lundy has lent his musical skills to these bands, as well as serving as The Scourge of The Sea's touring guitarist, Chico Fellini is his own beast... well, along with vocalist Christopher Dennison, bassist Emily Hagihara and drummer Brandon Judd.

On their self-titled debut full-length the foursome deliver a refreshingly original brand of rock that twitches in nervous spasms (the new wave disco sleaze of "Electrolyte" and "No Strada") and creeps from dark corners like an intruder in the bedroom (the eerie yet delicious "Can't Deny"). Lundy dishes out some stout riffs on the catchy track "Hot" and the opening number "Despite The Mix Up," but the band's (not so) secret weapon is Dennison's high-pitched voice that leaps from introspective thespian vibrato to antagonizing yelping like a mad dog on a short chain. Dennison's sense of melodrama - conjuring up the vocal spirits of Freddie Mercury, Klaus Nomi and PJ Harvey - turns lesser numbers such as "Down The Up Ladder" and the slinky closing piano ballad "Uli" into mesmerizing pieces of high-theater.

Chico Fellini's edgy, electrifying and unique style may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for the adventurous this debut not only cries for the spotlight but also demands a rousing curtain call.

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