Sometimes when you see a band or musician in concert and it is the first time you are being exposed to their style and sound, it can either be a blessing or a bad thing, depending on if they have a good stage presence. Back in 2005, it was during a chance meeting that I got to see the Ann Arbor, Michigan band The Avatars live in concert.
In 2005, Cleveland was host to the first CMJ Rock Hall Fest. The Rock Hall Fest was a musical event that brought many bands, some known, some unknown, to the Cleveland area to have the bands perform for people in the music industry as well as for crowds of old and new fans alike.
Ann Arbor, Michigan’s The Avatars was just one of the many up-and-coming bands that took part in the first Rock Hall Fest. The band took to the stage in the Festival Village for the event where they performed for the Friday afternoon crowd of music lovers. The short but entertaining set by the rock quintet was the perfect way to introduce the people at the festival village and myself to their style. It was a great way to discover what the band was all about.
The Avatars are a band that is made up of five talented musicians. The band is comprised of lead singer Mariah Cherem, bassist Theresa Kiefer, drummer Claudia Leo, with two male guitarists: Chris “Box” Taylor, and Charlie Lorenzi. The band’s sound has been previously described as “new wave inflected.” With Mariah Cherem handling the vocals, she sounds like a cross between Suzi Quatro and Debbie Harry; meaning that the band’s sound falls somewhere between Quatro’s Glam Rock style and Blondie’s New Wave style. But wherever you place the band’s sound, their style is different than most of the bands in today’s music scene. This difference gives The Avatars a fresh feeling amongst the everyday sounds of most bands that stay within the norm of the music industry.
When The Avatars were showcasing at the CMJ Rock Hall Fest, the band was performing songs from their then yet-to-be-released album debut for No Fun Records. That album, 2006’s Never A Good Time, is a short-but-sweet release that clocks in at less than 30 minutes.
Although the band is one of those groups that needs to be seen live to get the full appreciation for what they are about, Never A Good Time could be considered “the best way to experience The Avatar’s live feel at home.” While the album as a whole is very strong, some of the standout tracks include: “Honey Do,” “There Was A Time,” “Wait,” and of course, the title track of “Never A Good Time.”
Never A Good Time from The Avatars begins with the track “Honey Do”. The track easily fits into the music of the seventies as the track has plenty of energy but still feels slightly retro at the same time. With this track, the finds the band creating a Rock and Roll track that features a strong groove to it. The song lies somewhere between Garage Rock and Glam Rock. As the band creates the retro vibe on the music, lead singer Mariah Cherem seems to fall right in line with such female vocalists such as Suzy Quatro, Joan Jett or even Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics.
The band’s song “Wait” finds the group firmly back in the middle of Glam Rock. The track brings to mind something that sounds like a combination of the music of Blondie and the music of Joan Jett. The combination of the styles once again gives the band a sound that would make any lover of real Rock and Roll happy as the song is delivered with an abundance of energy that keeps the listener hanging on to every note.
And speaking of hanging on to every note, one track on the band’s Never A Good Time release that translated well to the live stage was there song “Never a Good Time”. And when the band created their album, that live feel was captured well on the title track of the album. This may be the reason the band used it as the title track. “Never a Good Time” features one of the strongest guitar sounds of any of the tracks. In fact, it is the guitar part of the song that really stood out to me when I was checking the band out when they came to Cleveland for the first CMJ Rock Hall Fest. So to hear a track that sounds as good in a studio setting as it did live on stage tells the listener that there really is some talent within the musicians who make up The Avatars.
While they may seem a little outside of today’s musical tastes, Detroit, Michigan’s The Avatars are keeping the spirit of rock alive with their style of music. The band’s music blends a lot of different Rock and Roll approaches to create a sound that should satisfy anyone’s craving for real Rock and Roll. And the band’s Never A Good Time release is the perfect place to start if you want classic Rock and Roll that comes with a rather timeless appeal to it. Check out The Avatars if you’re looking to the sound of Rock and Roll for your choice of music.