MOTHERLAND - The Cyril Lords (No Fun Records)
OK, oil prices are sky-high and it costs a bomb to keep anything but a pushbike on the road. You might be tempted to swap four wheels for two or even take the shoe leather option. But there's one unit that's built CYRIL LORDS for speed with an engine on which you should spend your hard-earned. Built in Ohio and re-tooled in the Motor City, The Cyril Lords run like a Hemi 356 with a tank full of the good stuff, hurlting down the potholed surface of I-94 like no-one's business.

This is a fabulous debut album by The Band Formerly Known as The Bloody Hollys and at the heart of it is the pairing of girl drummer Mayuko and bass player Sean Ellwood. A more nimble yet powerful engine room you're not likely to encounter in a month of swap meets. Mayuko rumbles around the kit like a serial killer, laying down the most solid of feels before exploding in a firestorm of fills and accents. Ellwood (was he a Blues Brothers fan?) propels the songs forward with his nimble, melodic fretwork.

Singer-guitarist-songwriter Marty Morris is not talent-challenged either, ringing the changes on those six-strings with alternately clanking or chiming runs ("Amy Would") or chunky riff-o-rama and a voice that works just fine. Echoes of the Soledad Brothers.

The tunes are terrific and run the gamut from swaggering Kinks work-outs ("You'd better Take Care of Yourself") to hi-energy beer runs ("I Never Cease to Remind Myself") that out-Von Bondie the Von Bondies. The occasional Stones reference point ("How Is a Boy Supposed to Know?") doesn't do any harm, either.

The band's been kicking aorund for a few years on the Michigan scene but I'd heard more about them than I had of them before now. Props to Ann Arbor-via-South America label No Fun (geographically appropriate name but not refelctive of their mood evoked by their roster) for giving vent to the Cyril Lords in all their ragged, rocking glory.

Speaking of songs, here's a challenge: Cue up the first four songs ("Through the Looking Glass", "1771", "Modest Man" and "What Kind of Man Have I Become") and come up for air. Chances are, you might reach for the repeat button, The Cyril Lords don't shoot their wad in the space of that quartet, but they make for a damn near irresistible salvo that sets the scene for what follows.– The Barman