Album Review / The Lopez / More Muppet than Human

Words by Ricky

Whatever happened to bands dorky-enough to cover obscure songs that (maybe) 20 folks in our small city appreciate?? Over a year ago inside a smoky Howlers (back in the days of blood-red walls and credit cards), my ears perked up when the discernible intro to my favorite Feelies song blared from the concert space next door. I dashed into the show and was greeted by sweetly shrill vocals, some drum set-programmed crazy rhythms, and (what sounded like) a wall of amplifiers spewing electric guitar chords (though somehow only a tiny amplifier sat behind the guitarist). This was The Lopez!

Black Mold
Funny Hat Club
Missed Delicious

Steph and Jesse relocated back to Pittsburgh (from Philly) almost two years ago. From what I understand, the band started as your normal four-piece, but they’re now a duo who immerse us with loud, screeching, (and most importantly) FUN rock n’ roll. They’ve also baked cakes and hosted taco parties at their shows–they’ve also jammed cover sets as Guided by Voices, The Frogs, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. So yeah, they rule. Soon they’ll perform some Saved by the Bell inner-monologue…as Mario LOPEZ, naturally. (That was a joke, but I’d gladly support such an event.)

I’ll admit that, at first, so briefly, the lack of a drummer and bassist clouded my judgment of their show. I know (decent) drummers are a dime a dozen, but with the exception of Big Black, Cocteau Twins, and a list of others I can’t think of right now, few bands benefited from the whole “rock band with a drum machine” thing. By my second Lopez show, my inner-drummer retaliated (he can be a bitch sometimes). In fact, the lack of a human rhythm section separates them from all the other locals–maybe that’s the muppet element of their new EP, More Muppet than Human.

The new recording rocks like a full band wailing Stooges-like riffs, Riot Grrl grrrwls, and early punk grooves in a basement. Oh, and someone remembered to bring the cowbell too! The opening riff on “Black Mold” sets the EP’s driving backbone–in fact, jam the song while you’re driving, and it feels like you’ve entered a chase scene from Bullitt. The rest of the EP’s vibes ring similar. “Funny Hat Club” and “White Lady” are pure 70’s glam punk hijinks with some inescapable hooks, while closer “Missed Delicious” shakes you to the point where it deserves its own mosh pit upon listen.

The recording is rawer and dirtier than their previous EP, but don’t let that sway you. The guitar’s ROAR and keyboard-mesh of noise suits the band. For head banging purposes, I’ll admit that the drums aren’t meaty enough at points, like during “TV Sound”‘s pounding verse. Other than that, all is well in Lopez land!

The Lopez are a humble bunch—so humble that a CD release show wasn’t on their To Do List. Instead they packed their bags and hit the road for two weeks last summer while selling CDs. If you haven’t heard the new recording, now there’s no excuse. It captures their wicked-fun show, though like any great live band, the recording can’t best the live show).

An annual Winter Prom show features The Lopez at Garfield Artworks on December 15th (Manny’s not paying the heating bill all month to prepare), and they’ll share the bouncy stage with a host of others like Mustache Required and Social Justice Squad. They’ll also wish you goodbye with the WRCT (88.3FM) Mayan calendar-themed “Rockin’ Till the End of the World” show that ruptures the airwaves Friday, December 21st (assuming the world still exists and all).

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