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Vancouver's Hot Hot Heat is buoyant fun and then some

June 15, 2005|Richard Cromelin | Times Staff Writer

Hot Hot Heat's new album is titled "Elevator," which is the perfect image for the Canadian band's musical approach -- not "Elevation" in the U2 sense of soaring to the skies, but "Elevator," as in a vehicle that rises efficiently to a higher destination.

It's a more modest ambition, but there are some fun elevators out there, and Hot Hot Heat is nothing if not buoyant, effervescent fun. At the Avalon on Monday, Steven Bays pranced and posed and sang in his distinctive nasal yelp, as he and his Vancouver bandmates kept the packed crowd jumping and clapping along throughout their hour-plus set.

They're a bit like Franz Ferdinand with a synthesizer -- deceptively simple-sounding but with an unusual degree of teamwork and a fine touch that combine to make them extremely effective. Hot Hot Heat can do the snarly garage thing, as in their 2002 hit "Talk to Me, Dance With Me," but they mainly draw on a tradition of hook-conscious pop that runs from British Invasion to '80s new wave.

It's made them a rock radio force, with "Elevator" songs such as "Middle of Nowhere" and "Goodnight Goodnight" extending their run and suggesting some real staying power. The songs' easy appeal is spiked with idiosyncratic phrasings and arrangements, the lyrics are usually better than they need to be, and some numbers, such as "Jingle Jangle," indicate an urge to find a deeper and more ambitious level of expression.

Monday's show slowed after it reached halfway, as the music started restating what had come earlier. Even the best elevators can get stuck between floors.


Hot Hot Heat

Where: House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim

When: 7 tonight

Price: $15

Contact: (714) 778-2583

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