High School Sweethearts

High School Sweethearts
Heels ‘N Wheels (2005, Get Hip)

While metal head stoners are dropping their books and running like hell to the sound of “Schools Out For Summer”, the kids with ripped jeans and Ramones t-shirts are rocking along with “Afterschool Special”. The HSS know how to rock. Cynthia Santiglia’s straightforward and strong vocals are backed by solid dual-guitar action. On the poppier numbers the band shows great restraint and make elbow room for a melody-binding farfisa.

The New Jersey 5-piece weave’s its way through a nice set list comprised of fun rockers (“Sweethearts’ Theme”) and sweet pop ballads (“Everybody”). A few tracks are neither here nor there (unfortunately the lead-off “Downtown Girl” is one of them), but the pit stops are few and far between. The covers of David Bowie, the Avengers, and Dogs D’amour are respectful. They hint that the HSS are more music-savvy than a simple rock/pop tag would let on, but the final judgment depends on your love of the originals. You can’t out-Bowie Bowie, but the gang does do well in attempting to out-party the party animals that came before them.

This type of non-fatale femme-rock reminds me of the playful and sassy Tuscadero, the tuneful but chop-heavy Buck (Lisa Marr’s post-cub outfit) and maybe even a non-manufactured Donnas. That’s pretty good company. Get Hip has been an unwavering sign of quality for some years now, and once again they turn in another solid “A” with the High School Sweethearts.

-Mark Hughson 10-20-05

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