Snappy Little Numbers


Independent release, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Something tells me my mother-in-law is real nervous about this review running today. You see, she's the one responsible for giving me a copy of Snappy Little Numbers, a five-song EP from Chicago-based Gelheads - apparently one of the members is the son of her boss. Something tells me that she's worried about updatng her resume in case I baste this disc like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Relax, Terri, I'm not gonna put your job in jeopardy. Fact is, the trio - vocalist/guitarist Frankie D'Angelo, bassist Tim McDonald and drummer Lydon - bring forth a very enjoyable power-pop not terribly different from the late, lamented Material Issue in ways. While they're still very much a young band (having been together just over a year), there is a surprising maturity to Gelheads's sound, suggesting that this is just a warning shot promising even greater things to come.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That's not to say that things don't get off the ground smoothly; while "Words Go By" proves itself to be a song worthy of your time and attention, it sometimes feels like it takes a little too long to build up momentum. What's interesting about Gelheads, though, is that the longer the disc goes on, the better it gets, from the buzz-creating track "Deer In Headlights" (which has gotten some play on Chicago's WKQX-FM) to the under-two-minute punch-in-the-ribs "Misdirected". If the latter track hadn't been so short, I'd have pushed for this one to be released as a single; it's got all the angst of a Ramones song wrapped up in a neat, poppy shell that nearly anyone can enjoy.

"Schizo Love Song" slows things down a little bit, opening with an acoustic guitar line which eventually builds into a pleasant pop chorus. It turns out to be an interesting way to end the disc, and an appropriate one.

All of this said, I must level but two complaints about Snappy Little Numbers. (Bet you long-time readers know what's coming next.) First, while it's an enjoyable disc, at five songs and under 20 minutes in length, it's far too short, especially when the listener finds themselves getting sucked in further with each track. Second, Gelheads might want to consider adding a second guitarist/vocalist, just to flesh out the group's sound. This is by no means a criticism of D'Angelo's skills; rather, there are one or two moments on this disc where the sound gets a tad thin, and having the extra muscle of guitar crunch or another harmony vocal might just be the final ingredient needed to make the end result work the best.

For a group which has been together for such a short time, Gelheads have a tight sound which would blow away many bands who have been together longer yet haven't found that magical spark. Snappy Little Numbers proves the songwriting and musical abilities are there in abundance - now all they need is a few lucky breaks to head their way. If even one of these happens, chances are Gelheads won't remain a Chicago secret for long.

For more information or to hear selected tracks, please visit Gelheads's Web site.

2002 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission.

Rating: B+

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© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.