HGR CD Review: The Semi-Supervillains

THE SEMI-SUPERVILLAINS – TRICKS (no label) Formed at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University in 2010, the Semi-Supervillains deliver a vigorous, garage-rocking wallop on their first full-length CD, Tricks. The band’s nucleus of founder, singer, guitarist and keyboardist Vinnie Longhi and bassist Ron Rekowski team with several drummers and noted producer/multi-instrumentalist Rick Witkowski to lay down a raucous, guitar-fueled garage rock sound. The group’s style displays the go-for-broke demeanor of Jet or White Stripes, but also captures the spirit of classic ‘60s-era garage rockers like the Kingsmen, Kinks and early Who. The disc’s 11 songs are compact, with catchy hooks and to-the-point melodies; providing the backdrops for Longhi's lyrical odes to boy-meets-girl ups and downs. The Semi-Supervillains offer four quality textbook crash-bang-wallop guitar-rock exercises to launch the album; the disc-opening title track “Tricks,” “Magic Touch,” “Black Letter” and “Learned My Lesson”; and stomp hard on the crunchy “Trolls.” They accelerate to punk-like velocity on “Come On Pain Give Me Sympathy” and the disc-finisher “Start the Show,” and provide infectious ska chops on “Right for All.” The group crafts a catchy R&B-like pop melody on “Fool for You,” taps a McCoys “Hang On Sloopy” vibe with the playful “She Put a Spell on Me,” and belts out a convincing doo-wop ballad on “Say the Word.” The Semi-Supersonics deliver all of it with a caution-to-the-wind velocity and abundant enthusiasm; yet the execution is airtight and dead-on. Longhi’s vocals are playful and tuneful, yet capable of going off the deep end at any moment. Witkowski’s studio finish enables The Semi-Supervillains to sound sharp and edgy, yet polished and radio-ready. No trickery involved, Tricks delivers a refreshing, awakening garage-rocking slap to the cranium, and The Semi-Supervillains provide a stripped-down, fun and raucous listen. (The CD can be obtained through the group’s Reverbnation website, www.reverbnation.com/semisupervillains.)