Sweet 75 avoids Nirvana stereotypes on new CD

By Marty Keane
Collegian Staff

Sweet 75
Atlantic Records

It’s one thing to feel a weight of expectations on your shoulders, but when you played bass for a certain band most consider to be the defining group of the last 20 years, living up to your past in a new venture can quickly turn into a futile proposition.

Take Sweet 75 founder Krist Novoselic’s former Nirvana bandmate, Dave Grohl, who has had to deal with two untimely departures from his new band, Foo Fighters, since their latest album was released back in May.

Suffice it to say, after one listen to Sweet 75’s self-titled debut (DGC Records) the inevitable and superfluous Nirvana comparisons can be discarded. A calculated attempt to break free of the traditional ‘rock album’ mold, Sweet 75 features a horn section, as well as Spanish lyrics on several songs. The only Nirvana-era trait that has remained in Novoselic’s songwriting vocabulary is their revolutionary soft verse/loud chorus dynamic. Smartly, Novoselic doesn’t pull that trick out of his hat too often, but when he does, it works magically – as on “Red Dress.”

Sweet 75 doesn’t lack Nirvana’s trademark visceral punch, but rather it’s simply too diverse to be pigeonholed into any discernable categorization. A native of Venezuela, singer Yva Las Vegas’ distinctive salsa­tinged vocalisms see to that.

Taking their name from a Theodore Roethke poem, Sweet 75 showcase a singular musical and lyrical hybrid: equal parts raging rock (“Bite My Hand”) ‹ a hallmark of Novoselic’s work with the seminal Seattle grunge outfit – Latin folk, and the sometimes overwhelming big­voiced blues Las Vegas was unleashing on Seattle street corners until she sang for Novoselic at his surprise birthday party three years ago.

“La Vida” sounds like the theme song from some cheesy ’60s show – “The Avengers” perhaps. With brassy horns and Las Vegas’ sultry Spanish lyrics rising above Novoselic’s surprisingly restrained bass line and Herb Alpert’s jazzy trumpet, it’s a fun, feel­good hoot.

Frankly, there aren’t enough of these entertaining eclecticism to keep the album totally engrossing over its sprawling length of 14 songs- “Dogs” and “Japan Trees” stand out as pure filler – yet Novoselic still manages to break free of his Nirvana stereotype without coming off pretentious or silly.

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