The Action Is Blackbelt (The Record Party)

Blackbelt (The Record Party)

Record Reviews

The Action Is

Blackbelt (The Record Party)

Hotwheels Jr. always deserved recognition, but being sued by Mattel probably wasn't what Adam Farina, Krissy Recla, and Mark Bradley had in mind. (They've had enough trouble just keeping a drummer.) Now freshly re-christened after a run-in with the giant toymaker's lawyers -- that Barbie can be a bad bitch -- The Action Is haven't let it ruin their make-up. Their third CD, Blackbelt, is a little rougher around the edges than 1999's Head Driver, but the effect is mostly positive; it captures the crackling energy of their stage set. That's quite an achievement considering drummer Will Plumb left midway into recording, with ex-Sixteen Deluxe stickman (and Blackbelt producer) Steven T. Hall stepping in before the band secured the services of Jake Perlman. Full of hypercharged riffs molded into tersely economical melodies, Blackbelt's 35 minutes fly by like a series of rabbit punches and roundhouse kicks. Besides familiar Hotwheels live wires "Laramie" and "My Hero," Blackbelt also boasts an excitable cover of the Orange Mothers' "Marshmallow Girls" that does both bands proud. Whatever they're calling themselves, The Action Is is still one of the most underrated and underestimated bands in Austin.

***

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