Angry Salad Sings About First Dates And Milkshakes, Not Greens
By by JENNIFER SALCIDO, Contributing Writer
The first thing that you'll notice about Angry Salad's catchy self-titled debut is this: they're not really that angry at all. Oh, you'll also probably notice that while they sing about milkshakes, there isn't really any mention of salad, either.

Disappointing as that may seem, the record is anything but. From their humble beginnings as the cerebral-looking darlings of the collegiate rock circuit in New England, the boys of Angry Salad have successfully created a hook-filled brainchild that sort of resembles Adam Duritz on Prozac.

Lead singer Bob Whelan and company continue in the tradition of bands like the Wallflowers, Better than Ezra and the now defunct Gin Blossoms in providing listeners with a combination of pop-addled nostalgia and angst-sprinkled gentleness. Whelan's voice does seem to dangerously teeter on the annoyance threshold at times as in the political licks of "How Does it Feel to Kill," but Whelan redeems himself with equal ease in great moments like the blissfully assertive cover of "99 Red Balloons" and in the uncomfortable hilarity of "Coming To Grips," a quirky eulogy to love lost to the throes of lesbianism. The opener, "The Milkshake Song," is alternatively the most uplifting and the most simplistically sweet statement of the record, yet it seems to carry the most weight throughout. "She gave me a milkshake and a kiss / I don't need a whole lot more." Neither do we.

Overall, the sentiment of this record is universal. Whelan's voice reminds you of the first time you wiped your hand on your jeans before reaching over to intertwine your fingers with someone else's in a movie theater where it was just dark enough so that you kind of had to fumble, and you were so sure that the exchange you were participating in was so monumental that it had to be more than just a boy or girl sitting next to you.

Hale Pulsifer's drums are aggressive where appropriate, complimentary when necessary. The string team of Brian Vesco on bass and Alex Grossi on guitar creates a fabulous rhythmic backdrop for this clammy-handed first date, this gravel-voiced modern rant, this exploding first kiss, this numbing break-up, this bleary-eyed moment of affirmation at dawn when the sun peeks out over the fog and everything just glows. They're not salad, they're not too angry, but their message is clear: pop rocks.

You can catch Angry Salad and all their powdery Polaroids of misspent (or well-spent, you decide) youth at the Northampton Music Festival on Sunday, Sept, 24. Angry Salad will be on the "Developing Artists" stage of the concert, which will also feature Ben Harper, Sonic Youth, Sleater Kinney, Groove Collective, Juliana Hatfield and Toots & The Maytals. So bring your friends, bring your memories, but leave the Thousand Island at home.

Issue 02, Submitted 2000-09-13 16:00:39