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Ze Malibu Kids | Sound It Out (Houston Party)
Sidelined for several years now, following protestations and the threat of a lawsuit from a certain international medical agency, brothers Steve and Jeff McDonald, best known as the core of bubblegum-punk-glam-power pop-rockers, Redd Kross, have just resurfaced as one half of Ze Malibu Kids. Developing the familial bond which has served them so well, Ze Malibu Kids are augmented by former That Dog vocalist, Anna Waronker, now wife of Steve McDonald and, depending on what you believe, occupying the drum stool is either Jeff McDonald's seven year old daughter Astrid (according to the sleeve notes) or perhaps most likely, her mother, former Go-Go Charlotte Coffey (according to several internet sites). Whatever the case, it's heart warming to see the McDonalds' admiration for The Partridge Family taken to such lengths. Whatever the name, the essence of Redd Kross permeates many of the tracks here and it's great to hear the McDonalds in action again. Anna Waronker plays her part too, especially on lead track Shelley Fabares ?? a quirkily successful stab at '80s synth-pop. Kind of a hybrid of Echo Beach meets Video Killed The Radio Star. Ze X Tasy Club, falls a bit flat, but even on the few comparatively disappointing tracks, there's always an element that brings a wry smile or a surge of adrenaline ?? the rippling '70s style disco-bass line in this particular case. Outer Circle is more than the essence of Redd Kross ?? it is them! The track, also featuring Redd Kross drummer, Brian Reitzell, is an absolute belter despite its obvious Beatles influences, with an infectious, shuffling beat, clipped power chords and a guitar solo par excellence. Briefly punctuated by the dreamy Anna Waronker-sung I Won't Forget You, the undercover Kross soon return with the riff-strong Maybe It's The Wrong Time. Clearly recorded on a budget, many of the tracks have a demo feel about them, exacerbated by the frequent use of a drum machine and occasionally abrupt fade-outs, but 'Sound It Out' is a lot of fun nevertheless. There's plenty here for Redd Kross fans as you would expect, but there are as many unexpected pleasures to be found too ?? the frenetic and somewhat bizarre mock-falsetto of the Sparks-like What's Wrong With Stephani? the brief, searing guitar solo that elevates the deadpan interpretation of You're So Vain from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Whether or not this is a temporary departure, Ze Malibu Kids 'Sound It Out', is fun and frivolous but certainly not disposable. More please!

Geraint Jones
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002