Smile takes pop and power beyond expectations

By Greg D'Avis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Smile

Maquee

Headhunter Records

Thankfully, the brief hype about the "San Diego scene" has vanished to wherever media-created trends go to die, without the world being bombarded by 8 million Rocket From The Crypt-sound-alikes.

In the meantime, while the eyes of the hip look elsewhere, Southern California continues to crank out good bands bands that not only are solid, but diverse, putting to rest any thoughts of a San Diego sound.

Even putting to rest the fact that they hail from an area that puts out consistently good music, Smile's debut album exceeds the wildest expectations.

Smile has a fair amount of what it takes to make it big these days the listener can hear traces of Seattle rock, Helmet and poppier sensibilities. But judging by "Rock Anthem For the Retarded Teenage Hipster Population," guitarist/vocalist Mike Rosas has too much disdain for the MTV generation to strive for the brass ring: "And the fact that we're all different makes us all the same/And yet we insist on playing our stupid games/Even dressed just like our parents did when they were our age/The only thing we learn from our mistakes is that we make a lot of mistakes."

For the most part, Maquee is made up of songs that manage to pull off a difficult blend of the hefty and the hooky songs like "Spud Gun," "Lemonade" and "Papaya Clearance Sale" will get you simultaneously singing along and wanting to hit something.

There are a few tracks here that don't connect the droning "Staring at the Sun," the weak-kneed "Moosh", the far-too-much-'70s-rock-for-me-but-thanks-anyway "She." But most of the time, Maquee has enough hooks to pull me back in and honestly, since I got this album last Thursday, it's scarcely left my stereo. Four stars, A+, whatever.

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