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The 99ers

Move It! – 2012 (Spinout)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by The 99ers

The exclamation point in the title of The 99ers fourth release is by design. These retro/surf/punkers enjoy throwing all sorts of music in a blender, with the common thread that the results should pack a caffeinated jolt. The 99ers music dances around the maypole of fun, jettisoning punk's menace, but keeping its efficiency: most of the songs clock in around two and half minutes. This leaves plenty of room on a CD for a lot of them (there are 20 tracks). If nothing else, the most impressive thing the Minneapolis band accomplishes is how these songs feel complete in that compressed space (the secret seems to be ditching bridges and solos).

If it's classifiable at all, the music can best be described as rockabilly meets Ramones. The word and concept of "rock" gets a serious workout. It elevates, distracts and redeems a wide cast of characters. That's the Way We Dance mines the deepest emotional territory, trading off metric pairs about two lovers with little more in common than each other. A band with multiple singers, the male vocalists energize, but match the tone and styling of others (Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong in particular) a little too on the nose. Let's Jump the Broomstick makes the best argument for why Molly Holley's vocals bring the band to another dimension. Her voice resurrects the best of the Motown girl groups and can cop real swagger when needed (like on the regionally-anthemic Minnesota Boy).

As the band tears through its set, you'll smile at the goulash of musical references. Few working (and only hardworking) bands can effectively bring to mind Irish drinking songs with Saturday Morning cartoons or The Clash by way of The Shangri-Las. This band can be baffling, but you will always get your two minutes worth of listening.