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By Michael Henningsen, Claire Nettleton

MARCH 22, 1999: 

Stretch It's a Band ... Dammit! (Window Records)

With guest musicians such as Moxy from the Edge, Ben Hathorne (ex-Naomi, The Hopefuls) and Ronnie Wheeler (The Meek), Stretch's debut sums up the high points of the Albuquerque music scene without the sweaty, claustrophobic concert experience.

Who says you have to stick to one particular genre? Though the members of Stretch may have missed the Baby Boomer boat, their atypical combination of surf tunes, old school punk and classic rock creates a true renaissance of music. Bridging the generation gap, Stretch capture the intrinsic value of many genres without fear of the unconventional. And thanks to "El Mitote," the band shows that we no longer have to fear polka.

Alhough most songs on this 17-track album are time warps, Leonard Apodaca's dark, Jim Morrison-like vocals remain constant. Few vocalists are able to achieve the rugged, mountain man mood that Apodaca creates during his screeches and whispers. In order to truly break on through to the other side, check out "Leech," with its idiosyncratic lyrics and simplistic power chords. With plenty of '60s goodness, Stretch provide an outlet for closet John Fogerty fans who mask themselves in an alternative exterior.

Still, die-hard Metallica fans will get their fix of anguish-filled power ballads, courtesy of songs like "Disconnected." Stretch balance sweetly syncopated guitar patterns and head-banging distortion. As evidenced in their lyrics, the band "believes in yesterday."

Of course, sometimes the greatest things are left unsaid. Stretch's "Ten Hanging" contains wipeout undertones and possesses the raw power of every '60s-era surf tune. Visions of black lights will dance in your head as your body desperately attempts to do "The Jerk." The song is a perfect lead in to "Clementina," which is beyond categorization and is probably better known as "Fuck you," being that those are the only clear words in the chorus. If you're curious as to whether Stretch's somewhat slurred lyrics are as mighty as their danceable beats and their intense groove, good luck trying to read them--they're printed on a single flap of the sleeve. But if you ever hang out in coffee bars or have realized the absolute absurdity of life, you should enjoy "Take 3.14159 ..." a spoken piece accompanied by the jazzy beats of Luke Cordova (responsible for drums and random noises). A love sonnet or a description of an alien encounter? You decide.

Stretch seem to feed on local appreciation. With a dedication page made out like a high school yearbook, chances are you know half the people on the list. So go to a show, buy a CD. On stage or off, the band stretches the boundaries of music. After all, they're one of the great Burque bands ... Dammit! ¡¡¡¡ (CN)

The Derelectrics "Autocar" b/w "Phase 4" (self-released)

Remember back in the early '80s when a few punk bands didn't know they were actually new wave bands? Or was it

vice-versa? No matter, really. The sound that ensued out of the identity crisis managed to be aggressive and synth poppy delicious all at once, catapulting bands like DEVO, Missing Persons and a handful of others into the mainstream milieu.

On their debut single, The Derelectrics have adopted the punk-meets-new wave sound and updated it with an indie rock twist. "Autocar," the A-side, sounds like it could be a Vapors outtake from the "Turning Japanese" sessions, replete with dramatic, stuttered vocals during the verses and a sweeping, anthemic chorus. But the highlight of the platter is the B-side, a supercharged, guitar-driven rocker called "Phase 4." While it may be true that Harold Faltermeyer should never have been allowed to go anywhere near a synthesizer, The Derelectrics manage to weave that ubiquitous Fletch soundtrack-ish quavering synth voice into their tune without turning it into a parody.

Borrowing the best of '80s punk and new wave and less overt elements of Oi! punk, the Derelectrics have tapped into a sound that made The Cars and the Psychedelic Furs the best thing to happen to rock music since the birth of Ziggy Stardust. It'll be interesting to hear where the Derelectrics take it. ¡¡¡¡ (MH)

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