Nice Girls (Don't Explode)
Zero Hour Australia
Steven Deal - vocals, guitars
Robert Dietrich - vocals, guitars
Dean McNulty - bass, vocals
Furgis Allen - drums
All post-4play EP songs recorded at Trod Nossel Studios; all songs mixed at Trod Nossel. Produced by Chopper, engineered by Richard Robinson. Manufactured and distributed by Shock Records.
From CT by the way of Spit Junction, Australia (but with US distribution), here's power pop meisters Chopper blasting out some huge Who-like power chords on 10 brilliant melodic rocking songs. Not for these guys the stunted wimpy high gloss thing that too many people mistakenly think of as "power pop;" these guys do it with muscle. Standard trick: a verse with muted chunky chords that terminates into a chorus where the guitars ring out larger than life and the backing vocals turn on to make the song bust into every corner of your brain. The best songs (which are in the majority) are the full on rockers like "White Summer," "Nice Girls (Don't Explode)" or "You're Tearing Me Up." There's also a couple of slower ones, but Chopper seem to realize that just because the song is slow doesn't mean they can't use the same big guitar sounds. Really good, really tough, really fun.
JOHN GARDNER, NOISE FOR HEROES #22, 1993.
These New England rockers have followed up their 1990 EP 4PLAY with this cool full length CD on Australia's Zero Hour label. 4PLAY was a solid set of high-energy power pop with loud, distorted guitar work, kind of like what Dinosaur Jr. have done on songs like "The Wagon," but Chopper have much better vocals and none of Dinosaur Jr.'s artistic pretensions. On the new one, singer/songwriter/guitarist Steven Deal cuts back on the distortion, and, with the help of new guitarist Robert Dietrich, varies the arrangements and makes a record that is more accessible to the average rock fan while being even poppier than 4PLAY. These guys have learned a lot about the power of dynamics -- with its dramatic power chords and crashing drum rolls, "White Summer" is one of the coolest opening tracks I've heard in a long time. Deal's lyrics are pretty unique too -- imagine what Elvis Costello might sound like if he grew up in suburban America on a steady diet of teen exploitation flicks and you'd have the right idea. That a band this good has to go to Australia to get a record deal shows the stupidity of the majors in this country, but then the Flamin' Groovies are in the same situation, so at least Chopper are in good company.
RICH OVERMAN, YELLOW PILLS, Spring 1992.
As long as I'm on the punk-pop trail, it would be amiss not to mention the debut, self-titled LP by CT's Chopper. Though they still traffic in that large Rich Kids/Pistolian crunch of their previous "4Play" EP -- hear the nice roar of "Caitlin Cries" or "Misery" here -- it does also seem they're evolving into a fresh guitar-pop band with chops, well-written mini-epic songs, and inventive arrangements from guitarist/singer Steve Deal (ex-Bleached Black, but this is far better). Hell , even lighter acoustics abound in places, good for them, real variety! Are you tired of all the post-Aerosmith collegiate types with hair down to their butts wanking off, trying to be bad-ass with fourth-rate sludge-rock riffs? Then support an up-and-coming band like this who knows a melody when they hear one and doesn't aspire to be the next R.E.M. sound-a-like.
JACK RABID, ROCKPOOL, Nov 1, 1991
(also appeared in THE BIG TAKEOVER '31 1991)
Guitars and girls rule on the self-titled debut LP by CT's Chopper, a band founded by singer/songwriter/guitarist Steven Deal, former leader of New Haven's Bleached Black. On most of the ten tracks, the guitars are Who loud and Husker Du fast, but a refined melodic sense is evident throughout, regardless of tempo. Although the lyrical perspective is limited to youthful romance and all its emotional extremes, the songs survive the cliche minefield and are not merely juvenile. In "Caitlin Cries," a broken-hearted 9th grader gains a final victorious happiness by shooting her boyfriend at a school dance. Even in the more serious-minded "Nice Girls (Don't Explode)," which uses sarcasm to attack racism and sexism, the world is seen through the TV-numbed eyes of an adolescent. Granted , the point will probably go over the heads of those who need to think about it, but the sound will keep them dancing and drinking their illegal beer anyway.
Deal says that he wants Chopper to be "a band with a very melodic, beautiful sound but which also has the edge." Their debut offers ample evidence of both the edge and the beauty which he desires.
LISA MCDONALD, THE FLAGPOLE MAGAZINE, Athens, GA. October 23, 1991.
Remember when the Leader of the Pack hauled his ass (and his hog) into the mythical wall - -or whatever -- that obliterated him? Or the songs Brian Wilson wrote when he diddled himself in his room? Well, if you don't, then Chopper will remind you of those and other classic teenage weepy tunes: it's pure "highschool" stuff itself. Herein you'll find composer/guitarist Steven Deal's tale of unrequited-love-in-the-9th-grade, "Caitlin Cries" (which is also a pretty nifty revenge fantasy), and the equally lovesick "Seven Wonders." (In the latter, Deal muses, "Fighting back the urge to cry/It's love that makes us want to die." Hmm.) Nothing is quite as over-the-top, though, as the lyrics to "Misery": "Why, why is life so hard?/Why, why does it seem like a waste?/Why, why is it laughable at best?/Why, why is misery the test?"(Been reading the Book of Job, eh, Stevo?) Somehow I prefer the former leader of Bleached Black when he's nasty, as he definitely is on "White Summer," "Bloodspill," and "Nice Girls (Don't Explode)."
But no matter how self-indulgent this record gets, like all good "highschool" pop, it's honest -- there's plenty of adrenaline, but not a touch of guile, in this CT trio's Who-ish guitar runs, rapid fire drum salvos and boyish harmonies. Anyone who listens to Chopper is bound to be reminded of their favorite high school band, the guys who knocked out a rehearsal every afternoon in the basement next door. And what self-respecting high school band wouldn't want to play Creation's klutzy, powerful anthem , "How Does It Feel (To Feel)?"
PAT GRANDJEAN, THE BOB #42 1992.
Let's go home