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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Trash Can Sinatras Do It Their Way

December 22, 1990|STEVE HOCHMAN

Frank Sinatra just celebrated his 75th birthday and marked more than 50 years in show biz. The Scottish band Trash Can Sinatras, as the name forecasts, will likely prove a bit more disposable. But the quintet's Los Angeles debut at Club Lingerie on Thursday did make for an entertaining and promise-filled 50 minutes .

That came as a pleasant surprise, following a spate of such British bands as the Sundays and the Heart Throbs that set high expectations with excellent records but couldn't connect live, and following the Sinatras' own tasty but hardly gripping debut album "Cake," itself only the stuff of modest expectations. Unlike the others, the Sinatras looked like a band whose music was created for and on the stage.

Lead singer Frank Read, a skinny kid who looks like he could be Michelle Shocked's younger brother, is a natural. It was hard to pick out many words through his burr, but with spontaneous-seeming movements and gestures he illustrated the emotions of the songs--mostly tender, wistful and wondering--creating drama without dramatics. He was communicating with the members of the audience, not just performing for them.

Read's presence also helped give life to the music's textures. Some have compared the band to Aztec Camera, but it's more like the "shambling" Housemartins and Mighty Lemon Drops, folky pop that is at its best when played a little loose and with enough rough edges so that the inherent melodiousness never becomes sterile.

The Sinatras did all that and took it even a step further with a controlled-chaos encore of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." It's nothing earth-shaking, but it was a worthwhile evening of toe-tapping.

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