Wayne Bledsoe: 'Street Zombie': Teenage Love lasts beyond adolescence; plus HuDost

Rus Harper, lead singer of Teenage Love 13.

Rus Harper, lead singer of Teenage Love 13.

"Street Zombie," Teenage Love (169 Recordings)

"Just in simple, plain English, what does Teenage Love mean? And tie in the alcohol element." That's the question asked by a radio interviewer to a clearly inebriated Teenage Love vocalist/lyricist Rus Harper sometime in the 1980s and included on the new EP "Street Zombie."

The answer (which has to do with alcohol doing a better job at damaging morals), along with bassist/lead songwriter John Sewell's audience-baiting taunts, acts as cushion to a barrage of nerve-damaged punk fury.

The band's 2009 full-length album, "No Excuses," brought Teenage Love into the new millennium. It was a more mature, hook-laden surprise that validated everyone who knew these guys really were a band that had music as dangerous as its attitude.

"Street Zombie," though, makes it sound like the group is still inciting riots at dark, dank bars on Cumberland Avenue. There's no maturity here. While the group members (rounded out by guitarist Jeff Creggar and drummer Rodney Cash) are firmly in the middle-aged demographic, the music still sounds like it's fueled with testosterone, alcohol and poverty - three of the elements found in the best rock 'n' roll.

The four original songs and one cover ("Calling Me Names," written by the late Shannon Stanfield while he was in the group 5 Twins) are over much too fast, but Teenage Love has never been a group that allowed itself to wear out its welcome - well, unless something was destroyed or arrests were imminent.

The opening number "Someday" concludes with a snippet of Sewell facetiously snarling to a crowd: "Never in my life have I heard better musicianship than this ... You might as well kill yourself because this ecstasy will never be repeated!"

Well, maybe you should stick around and just play this EP again.

"Waking the Skeleton Key," HuDost (Open Sesame Music)

"Waking the Skeleton Key" is the sort of release you didn't realize how much you needed until it starts to nudge its way into your soul.

HuDost's 2009 album "Trapeze" was dense, brooding and beautiful. "Skeleton Key," which includes remixes of two "Trapeze" songs, is lighter and brighter, and no less stunning.

With lead vocalist/keyboardist Moksha Sommer and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jemal Wade Hines as the group's core, HuDost mixes up world music, American folk and rock into something lovable.

Sommer's voice is the music's most inviting point of entry, but the group's sweet (and sometimes meditative) songs and layered instrumentation are what seals the deal.

You owe it to yourself to hear this group.

Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444 or bledsoew@knoxville.com. He is also the host of "All Over the Road" midnight Saturdays to 4 a.m. Sundays on WDVX-FM.

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