Release Date: 7/12/09 Label: Green Owl Records Website: MySpace The So So Glos have been described as a band that play ‘Rock and Roll that means something.’ It really is all that can be said for The So So Glos, judging on Tourism/Terrorism, because it’s hard to find the ‘something’ that it apparently means. This Brooklyn foursome, including brothers Alex and Ryan Levine, make raw and punky rock and roll, probably appealing to fans of Cage the Elephant (as they share rawness, rather yelpy lead shouting and fuck-it-all lyrics). Each song is a mêlée of Strokes-esque guitar and varied percussion, and lyrics which sound promising in places but would take some serious deciphering. Tourism/Terrorism is nine tracks long, though one of them is a ‘holiday version’ of short track one. There are some highlights, which suggest the band has potential for better things than those showcased on this album. ‘My Block’, track two, has an intro that sounds like Babyshambles’ ‘Baddie’s Boogie’, only less cleanly produced. After the abysmal school-boys-messing-about-in-their-friend’s-garage-with-a-bad-microphone ‘There’s A War’, ‘My Block’ is quite a relief, faster and with more chords, but hampered by the same irritatingly sing song (yet never in tune) voice. ‘Isn’t It A Shame’ is an up too, with lyrics addressing a disillusioned lover, nice passages of echoey finger picking on the guitar and a percussive second half which provides an interesting contrast. Finally, ‘Island Loops’ is the quirkiest track, with an Egyptian sounding riff over maracas, a strange meeting of cultures and musical ideas, towards the end sounding like it’s being played at rowdy football match. Those are the peaks on the rollercoaster. The rest of the tracks are those bits in between the peaks, where the roller coaster car is climbing up on the mechanism, moving at two miles an hour and giving you time to chat about the weather. All of these are disappointing for three main reasons. Firstly, the singer’s voice really is an acquired taste; secondly, although the production is clearly meant to be minimal, and provide an endearingly ‘live’ feeling, it is almost underdone here, and leaves a lot of the album sounding too DIY and scratchy; finally, if the two aforementioned failings were completely absent, I still don’t think the album would be original, or unusual enough to gain much attention, sounding a little like The Clash and a lot of similar bands. ‘Love and Empire’ stands out as terrible: hackneyed, boring and amateurish. In summary, Tourism/Terrorism has its ups and downs, as every album does, but its flaws outweigh its positives. The So So Glos play deliberately messy punk, but with little charm, and the results are decidedly so-so (get it?) – the least interesting roller coaster in the theme park, which you don’t mind once, but wouldn’t pay to go on it again. The So So Glos – ‘My Block’ Rating: 5/10