Dollhouse Royal Rendezvous

Simple ’50s soul-infused rock’n’roll reminiscent of MC5 thanks to a relentless groove and uncompromising attitude, Dollhouse’s second album portrays a band regressing even further back into rock’s past than their ’70s-styled debut effort alluded to. Still, Royal Rendezvous manages to drag enough of their defining BellRays (no surprise, since singer Lisa Kekaula was a guest on their first disc) and Flaming Sideburns influences into the fold. Touches of James Brown-esque flair kick in here and there, with tracks such as "Living Tomorrow” and "Dead Man’s Hand” swirling around the essence of horns and minute jazz structures. Factoring in the hand of producer/Hellacopters guitarist/singer Nicke Andersson and the comparisons to Grande Rock are almost unavoidable. Simple and straightforward while hinting at more, the necessary low fidelity that results in the echo-laden atmosphere and flowing rhythms leads the ear to wonder if someone has unearthed a rare Phil Spector session or found a new band altogether? However, after eight tracks, the datedness does start to creep in. Dollhouse are clearly capable of more than rudimentary garage rock and they need to prove it instead of burying it. Regardless, if there is such a thing as sophomore jinx, they’ve managed to escape it this time around. (Bad Reputation)