Lipstick and Cigarettes performed last Friday night at The Saint in Asbury Park and The Sexy Armpit was in attendance. L&C are quickly becoming a fixture to the NJ pop rock scene which is awesome. The band’s music (which is available on iTunes and elswhere) is a modern take on the ’80s new wave pop rock style. Their hard work is paying off since they’ve been in rotation at local college radio stations and they’re playing some great gigs in the coming months. I recorded their cover of Duran Duran’s “Rio” which was chosen by the winner of their T-Shirt contest they held at their Facebook page. You can see them live at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick on Saturday, April 16th.
Almost all the songs this trio performed were instantly memorable. I was sold on their bouncy, energized, retro rock vibe. Chris, the lead singer and guitarist of Lipstick and Cigarettes, could have been yanked out of a video from the early days of MTV with his skinny tie and black button down shirt. His voice matched the visual, creating a sound similar to many new wave bands with the prefix “The” in their names like The Cars, The Fixx, and The Knack. Their drummer, Erik, provided killer beats throughout the show, especially on the intro to “Alibi.” He infuses the songs with a rhythm that made me feel like they could have been on an ’80s movie soundtrack. But providing the key female element in the band is their bassist, Sarah, who probably gets so sick of hearing all the Cassandra from Wayne’s World references, so unless you want to get punched in the mouth, you better think twice about asking her if Crucial Taunt is playing The Gasworks this week. Sarah provided backing vocals on a few of the songs, such as “White Tie Affair,” but the band would benefit from making Sarah and Erik’s backing vocals more prominent in every song, which would provide a fuller, more distinct sound.
During the concert, I admired how meticulously constructed their pop rock songs were. For instance, “Taking it Slow’s” big “Whoa-Oh” chorus was fun, less sugary than the sweet power pop of Tinted Windows, and way less effeminate than Franz Ferdinand. Accentuating their set was a fresh cover of The Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep,” while some of their best tracks followed such as “Sleight of Hand” and “Dangerous Eyes.” As they brought it home, the crowd wanted more. Although unsure of what song they would do, Lipstick and Cigarettes delivered an encore. After some back and forth, Sarah was elected to sing. She enticed all the guys in the crowd with her alluring vocals on Blondie’s “Call Me,” and of course, she slapped some bass as well.
The show was over and I wasn’t tired at all after seeing Lipstick and Cigarettes. The second the show ended I basically interrogated the drummer Erik and tried to shake him down for a CD, but he claimed they didn’t have one made yet. That got me more than a little pissed considering that I could totally picture myself cruising around this summer with the windows down blasting their music. I thought he was just joking around and didn’t want to give me a copy, but then he mentioned that this would be their last live show for a while since they are working on writing and recording their debut album. Damn, I was glad that we decided to hang out! I admit that I was unsure if I wanted to stick around for a band I knew nothing about and whose music I have never heard, but that is the type of unexpected magic a place like The Saint offers. All the classic bands started somewhere, and if I’m lucky I may have witnessed one in the making.