*** AMANDA JONES, "Amanda Jones"; Bomp! Records
Jeff Drake has been serving up trashy but tasty rock since the early '80s, when he debuted on the Orange County scene as the lead singer of the Joneses. Now he's digging in a slightly different sector of rock's great municipal dump, but he and his new band mates are still coming up with tasty trash.
The Joneses specialized in raunchy, blues-based rock in the tradition of the Rolling Stones and the New York Dolls, with some Ramones-like punk tossed in. The band crashed in 1991 as Drake's heroin habit became all-encompassing; a luckily botched attempt at unarmed bank robbery in Anaheim probably saved his life. He was sent off first to treatment, then to federal prison for a 2 1/2-year stretch.
With Amanda Jones, Drake, the older brother of Humpers singer Scott Drake, relinquishes the microphone to Amanda Brix. She's also a veteran of the mid-'80s Hollywood club scene where the Joneses were briefly a hot item. This division of allows Drake to occupy himself with songwriting and guitar playing. Formed a year ago, the band debuts with a five-song EP that's played strictly for fun and laughs.
Instead of the Stones, the main reference points here are the messy New Wave and garage-punk of early Blondie and early Go-Go's, with frequent wry references to the early-'60s girl groups. As the band cranks freely, Brix pipes up in a thin, high, slightly gnarled voice that's perfect for Amanda Jones' humorous spoofs on comic-book romance. With good comic instincts, she comes off as a dizzy rather than wrathful cousin to screamin' Kim Shattuck, front woman of the similarly catchy and garagey O.C./L.A. band, the Muffs.
While Drake and company make good use of the new batch of old hand-me-downs they've scoured from the trash bin, the best track, "Private Enemy No. 1," takes him back to his favorite sort of rock debris.
A nasty, exuberant, punkified Stonesy crank prods Brix as she breathlessly recounts what it's like to be hopelessly taken in by the animal allure of the sort of charismatic, handsome bad boy she knows she should avoid.
(Available from Bomp! Records, P.O. Box 7112, Burbank, CA. 91510).
* Amanda Jones, the Meices, Chopper One and Ristrocket play tonight at Linda's Doll Hut, 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim. 9 p.m. $6. (714) 533-1286.
THE AMERICAN WAKE
"The American Wake"
There's not much novelty left in Irish traditional music played with a rough, rocked-up spirit, not after such bands as England's Pogues, New York's Black 47, and L.A.'s Young Dubliners. All of them focus on distinctive original material that goes far beyond ethnic flavor. That's not quite so for Long Beach's American Wake.
That isn't to say this debut album doesn't have its charms. The performances are spirited, the mostly traditional songs have all the Irish humor or pathos you could want; the contemporary covers, from the Pogues and the Waterboys, are well-chosen and well done.
There's also a good band original, "Mulligan's Bar," that inserts a note of desperation into the normally carefree proceedings of the Irish barfly tune.
If all you need is a brogue and a rollicking clatter, the American Wake's six-man lineup can deliver. Eric Ree fronts the band with a chesty voice that can sound so much like Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson that one half-expects him to break into "To Cry You a Song" or some such folkified Tull tune. It's put to good effect on a colorful assortment of tales about robbers and patriots, soldiers and lusty maidens, booze hounds and pining prison inmates.
What's missing is variety and invention in the arrangements. Too many numbers are headlong bursts with a mandolin or banjo or jangly guitar in the lead, with a bit of tin whistle for adornment.
Instead of these sprints, the band might have been better off staging a relay race, where one lead instrument hands off a solo to another. The tunes cry out for something extra--a fiddle, a sizzling lead guitar, some Irish pipes, perhaps--but none is forthcoming, and the energetic workouts tend to lose flavor with repetition.
Another drawback is the CD's muddy sound quality, which submerges backing vocals and renders a lot of the instrumentation tinny.
A home stretch of three wild drinking tales--including "Finnegan's Wake" done with unconvincing, semi-rapped passages--replicates the energy a band might want to cap a live show but sacrifices the sense of proportion and completeness that should mark a cohesive album. It's like serving three desserts when one would be plenty. (Available from the American Wake,  225-9197.)
* The American Wake, Tenfold and Voice Parachute play tonight at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. 8 p.m. $8-$10. (714) 957-0600.
Albums are rated on a scale of * (poor) to **** (excellent), with *** denoting a solid recommendation.