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Pop Music Review

The Januaries Playfully Update Retro Sound

December 21, 2000|NATALIE NICHOLS

Groovy, bay-bee! Performing such songs as "All Systems a Go Go" and "Summer of Love" at the Troubadour on Tuesday, the Januaries exuded a playfully sexy cartoon cool that fell somewhere between the primary-colored world of "Josie & the Pussycats" and the "Austin Powers" movies.

"I'm not a star, I'm the whole solar system," singer Debbie Diamond crooned at one point, and, man, was that an understatement. Clad in a swirling black-and-white print slip dress, the blond singer undulated, clanged finger cymbals, waved glittery pompoms and generally made herself fun to watch for almost an hour. Even better was her versatile singing, which ranged from a languorous purr to a lascivious growl.

The Los Angeles-based sextet is the brainchild of Diamond and guitarist-producer Rick Boston, a founder of early-'90s eccentrics Low Pop Suicide. Although some of the hyper-sparkly pop songs from its self-titled debut album would fit nicely in a kitschy '60s beach or spy flick, the music felt modern at the Troubadour, thanks to the jazz, electronica and new-wave in its psychedelic mix.

If the band wasn't wholly serious, it wasn't strictly camp either. The tune "Love Met the Devil" offered a hypnotic, mythological twist on the age-old saw that opposites attract. And not too many groups would envision Black Sabbath's classic "Paranoid" as a trip-hop-flavored lounge number. Like, wow!

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