The Vines, OK Go

It's shaping up to be a spectacular year for perfectly formed lifestyle rock. The Strokes' record is still happening, the Hives are making the Strokes look lame, Phantom Planet are hanging out with (or being) movie stars, the White Stripes are doing the same. And now cute Chicago dorks OK Go and shaggy Australian rockers the Vines hit Trees on Sunday night for a Capitol Records-sponsored hypefest. Some of these acts have ties to the once-New York-based garage-rock revival, but what really connects them is their attractiveness to stylish twentysomethings with impressive amounts of disposable income. Each band offers its listeners a slightly variegated version of the same vaguely rebellious Urban Outfitters worldview, distinct packages of immediate sound and vision as handy as a pair of Diesel jeans--with the Strokes you get Manhattan ennui, the Hives Scandinavian sex appeal, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club West Coast languor. This isn't a bad thing, if that's what you're thinking; protracted indie suffering is so 1992, and these bands are nothing if not satisfying. OK Go, in particular, pack one hell of a saccharine rush: Their forthcoming self-titled debut deploys muscular Billy Squier riffs and lush Queen detailing to come up with a Cheap Trick for kids who've never heard the Toto tunes the band covers onstage. (Plus, singer Damian Kulash oozes that wholesome Midwestern charm unknown in New York and unwelcome in Detroit.) The Vines are less pleasurable, if only because they try too hard to work against their nature and make Big Artistic Statements. Highly Evolved, their new debut album, hits the spot when it bulldozes through trashy grunge riffs Nirvana was too smart for, but live singer Craig Nicholls seems to realize that his slow songs don't mean as much as he thought they did when he was writing them; he lets out a blood-curdling scream each time it happens. Still, if you're young and consider yourself a part of a culture that prizes its own sexy commodification (and who doesn't?), make sure you make an appearance here.
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Mikael Wood

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