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The Makers

For all the racket record geeks kick up about the lack of palatable garage rock these days, it'd be easy to think that the Makers haven't been doing their thing for as long as they have. With a career spanning nearly ten years and several albums, however, the quartet makes any argument for garage rock's demise sound pretty silly.

Playing the rough-around-the-edges R&B-steeped rock and roll that can trace its lineage back to the early '60s, the Makers revel in the dirty guitars and moody rhythms akin in spirit to mod's rowdiest days. The biggest difference separating the Makers from their mod predecessors, however, is attitude. Where the Who and the Small Faces were content to hang out with Mamma and her squeeze box or lollygag in Itchycoo Park, the Makers would rather clean their fingernails with the tip of a switchblade. Though rocking, the album also finds the quartet letting its softer side peek through, with string arrangements and more pensive tempos popping up amid the band's usual offerings of hyped-up rock and roll.

In its rawest form, rock isn't as much about precision as it is attitude and energy, a theory the Makers stick to strongly on this album. Flashing rusty, barbed-wire guitars and cocksure arrangements, Rock Star God finds the band spicing up the standard garage fare with a touch of punk swagger, giving this album a dangerous sheen. Be it championing stylistic suicides ("A Better Way Down"), or throwing haunting keyboards into its sound ("This Is Death Row"), the band infuses its dated style with a fresh sense of decadence.

When settling into a more relaxed groove, the Makers broaden their sound while keeping the character in their songs. Whether bringing in a pillowy string section to flesh out the intro to "Star Power," or loosening up its stranglehold on its songs, as in "Give Me Back Yesterday," the band finds a new sense of maturity with this album.

At times, however, the Makers' junk-rock influence proves too heavy-handed to keep its songs afloat. Smothering the subtleties in its sound with a blanket of overblown rock stylings, the Makers go over the top too often to keep some of the cartoonish aspects of trash rock from popping up. From the ridiculous "Sex Is Good Food," to the "I'm a Concrete Wall," featuring sloppy guitar leads and rhythms that never connect, the Makers stray too far from the sense of roots that makes their other numbers succeed.

The days of classic garage rock are long gone. With Rock Star God, though, the Maker's twist on the sound again makes sure the style won't fade into the annals of bygone genres or fester in a dusty rut of repetition.

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Matt Schild

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