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The Kicks
HELLO HONG KONG
(TVT)

Like Evanescence, the Kicks have roots in the Arkansas Christian-rock underground, but their music has more in common with Fountains of Wayne than with Linkin Park. The groupís TVT debut has been around the block: give or take a few tracks, this is the third time itís received a national release since 2000, when they were known as Ashtray Babyhead. With two new band members, another new album title, and the backing of one of the countryís biggest indie labels, frontman Scott Cook is looking to hit power-pop paydirt at last. The eight holdovers on Hello Hong Kong deserve their belated shot at the big time: despite its no-nonsense production values, the bubbly "Mir" ("Cosmonaut, cosmonaut/I wanna be an astronaut") sounds as if it could sneak its way into the Top 40 à la "Stacyís Mom." On sunny-day reveries like "Satellite" and "Bomb," Cook proves to be a lighthearted but clever writer. The discís four new songs were recorded at the legendary studios Ardent and Smart, and that shows in the gorgeous layers of the melancholy "12 Steps." Whether or not it gets them to China, this CD is a fun document of the Kicksí transition from boys to men.

(The Kicks open for Further Seems Forever this Saturday, October 2, at Axis, 13 Lansdowne Street in Boston; call 617-228-6000.)

BY SEAN RICHARDSON


Issue Date: October 1 - 7, 2004
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