The Darts - I Like You But Not Like That
Review by Matthew Hutchison
2016 was a notable year for a few different reasons, but in this context, we’re talking about the realities for AZ/CA Nicole Laurenne, Rikki Styxx, and Christina Nunez due to their shared drive and ambitions manifesting itself into The Darts. Three years together and The Darts are already one of the more formidable bands in the US underground circuit that deserve every amount of success they’ve hit and held with a vice grip. Why formidable? One look at their discography and touring history tells you all that you need: Two LP releases (including the one we’re talking about here - I Like You But Not Like That) and a slew of EPs along with treks across the United States and Europe. Ambitious for sure but when your band leader is a judge, mother, and label manager, this is what you’re signing up for, and better be in for the long haul and check yourself if not the case. While still a new band, these women aren’t new to this world and lifestyle through cutting teeth and chops prior (and in tandem) with The Love Me Nots, Motobunny, The Dollyrots, and The Two Tens. Yet, it’s clear that The Darts are their most ambitious project to date with their resource investments providing an ROI with opportunities playing high profile festivals in both the New and Old Word, touring with some of the more significant names in punk/garage (The Damned comes to mind), and releasing material on heavy hitting labels in the punk/garage world, including Alternative Tentacles for this day’s subject.
I Like You But Not Like That isn’t their first rodeo on Jello Biafra’s imprint due to their 7” debut being a split release on AT alongside Dirty Water Records. However, that was three years and two songs only; today counts with a half hour plus LP debut that grounds them as a group of substance and one of the hardest working bands in the US underground rock circuit.
Entering the fold on guitars is Meliza Jackson, another AZ native rounding out this group as now being primarily from the Valley of the Sun (aka Phoenix, AZ). The big takeaway from I Like You But Not Like That is the catchy factor within the songwriting and also proof that The Darts are consistent in writing catchy, good material consistently. No puffery here; this is fact from someone who's followed them from the start and has caught a few of their live shows in the Los Angeles area, highly recommended you see them for yourself. From the beginning, the album delivers high energy with, this album’s theme leans towards a femme fatale mystique that Laurenne embodies with her voice exuding both sultriness and confidence. The somber “Don’t Hold My Hand” is their most melodic cut which holds a garage rock meets smokey lounge vibe reinforced by the sultriness factor Laurenne’s vocals exhibit. By the Not letting up on tracks such as “My Way,” “New Boy,” and “Thin Line” are great examples of the ladies displaying instrumental prowess with Jackson’s hard riffs intersecting Laurenne’s booming Farfisa while howling lyrics in a forceful, matter-of-fact manner. Nunez's deep, overdriven bass lines bring a post-punk feel to the album, most notably on the concluding track “ Where’s The Rain” and the single “Love U 2 Death” while Styxx drumming shows versatility and why she’s an in-demand drummer in the Los Angeles rock scene.
The Darts are a contemporary take on a nostalgic sound and proves there's more life than ever in a global scene often overlooked. I Like You But Not Like That is a solid album from front to back.
Swing by the Alternative Tentacles web store to grab a copy.
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Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,
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