So Long Astoria
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With a handful of indie releases and a few hectic years of touring under their belts, this release marks the Ataris big-label bow. And if the concept uniting it is an ode to the power of memory--a conceit attributed to Richard Hell, but one that ironically might as well have originated with the likes of Billy Joel--Kris Roe and company blitz their way through it with kinetic power and hooks to spare. But therein lies the rub: Fans will find this an album rife with positive energy, bright, well-constructed songs, and upbeat deliveries (if sometimes in service of awkward intellectual pretensions like "Unopened Letter to the World"'s parallels between Kurt Cobain and no less than Emily Dickinson); cynics may hear at as further evidence that punk and alternative rock have been co-opted in service of formulas as well-honed--and rigid--as anything the dreaded Corp Rock '80s ever yielded. Still, if play-it-to-the-back-rows, unabashed power-pop is what the Ataris were after here, they've delivered it with nigh perfection, right down to a slick, pumped up cover of Don Henley's classic-rock warhorse "The Boys of Summer." --Jerry McCulley
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