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"Diamonds And Demons - review 1"

Science Fiction Idols
Diamonds and Demons
Self-released

Writer: JUSTIN HOPPER




Wet, lipsticky kisses; bubbling spoon-water; piss and vinegar, gin and sweat, mascara and witch hazel: Liquid is the state of existence of everything in the music of Pittsburgh glam-rockers Science Fiction Idols. In the Idols’ world, lipstick and tongues mesh with bottles and blood, “Venom Tastes Like Wine,” and New York City is a town best known for its, um, spurts of precious-metal-colored rainfall. Even guitarists Bobby LaMonde and Gary Strutt’s mercurial, fingernail-kissed guitar wails seep like pin-pricked silicon.



Pittsburgh has long been a city dominated by glittering guitars and midnight-movie lyrics -- a city where, to this day, Cheap Trick is celebrated in song. But since 2003’s Spooky Sugar -- a triumph of sugar-syrup pop and trashy rock ’n’ roll tainted by dirty minds and dirtier guitars -- even amongst the garage-band surplus of the Steel City, Science Fiction Idols have been top of the heap. With Diamonds and Demons, the Idols restate their position as the liquid leaders of the free-glam world: Like some kind of Oliver Twist in eyeliner, the band has returned to rock’s shimmering trough after finishing its plate of Micks (that’s Ronson guitar solos and Jagger handclaps) and asked for more, more, more.



Maybe the most formidable change on Diamonds and Demons is the solidification of guitarist Gary Strutt as an equal partner to Bobby LaMonde in the singing/songwriting side of the band. Strutt’s songs here prove to be some of the most vital on the disc, whether he’s singing (as on the opening salvo, “I Want You to Lie,” a rock-radio hit if ever there was one) or handing his tunes off for LaMonde to handle. The latter’s the case on “Bubblegum Blues,” possibly the best song the Science Fiction Idols have recorded to date. Not content to merely parry their obvious influences -- T. Rex, Bowie, Thunders, Stones -- on “Bubblegum Blues,” the Idols seem to be reaching back and corrupting those same pre-trash sounds that their own idols corrupted: The proto-sleaze of rockabilly and the “daddy’s little girl” pomp-pop of Frankie Valli or Dion, cranked up on cheap wraps of amphetamine and flushed down the toilet when the cops are near. Drummer Angel O joins the writing fray with Strutt on the almost tender “Mystery and Magic,” a hat-tip to mid-’80s glam balladeering.



That’s not to say that LaMonde doesn’t still have his glam chops down. Such as “Under My Halo,” a stomping monster-mash (“halos over the horns again”), or the degenerate conceptualism of “Bag O’ Spiders” (“You’ve got a bag o’ spiders / I got a mouth of mama’s mice”).



The fact is, Diamonds and Demons is just another rock ’n’ roll record by just another rock ’n’ roll band. But the Idols aren’t out to change the world -- at least not permanently; maybe just for one night. And as far as those moments go, when you can cast off reality and step, high-heeled boot first, onto the “Planets of Love,” into the Sci-Fi alternate reality, it might be one of the best medicinal rock records this year.



Science Fiction Idols CD release show with The Cheats. 10 p.m. Sat., Dec. 3. 31st Street Pub, 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $5. 412-391-8334

- Pittsburgh City Paper 12/01/05


"Diamonds And Demons - review 2"




Concert Preview: Science Fiction Idols wax metallic on new album
Thursday, December 01, 2005

By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In late 2003, when Pittsburgh's Science Fiction Idols hit the streets with "Spooky Sugar," new guitarist Gary Strutt showed fans what he could do on vocals with a track called "Cats Galore" that clearly took its inspiration from a more metallic side of glam than bandleader Bobby LaMonde's songs.




Science Fiction Idols Release Party
With: The Cheats.
Where: 31st Street Pub.

When: 10 p.m. Saturday.

Information: 412-391-8334.










That would explain the more metallic vibe of the Idols' new "Diamonds and Demons," where more songs were written by Strutt than LaMonde and they split lead vocal duties down the middle.

As Strutt explains his contribution to the band's evolving sound, "I come from a little different background as far as the music. I mean, it's still in the same ballpark, but I have a different way of looking at it. I come from maybe a little bit more of the bombastic side of rock -- Van Halen, Guns N' Roses. I wouldn't say we sound like that, but he's more of that laid-back subtle T. Rex thing, which is very cool. But I like a little bit more of the metal stuff with a lot of big vocals."

At the same time, they haven't abandoned the old-school glam-rock signifiers fans have come to know and love -- the classic T. Rex swagger, Mott the Hoople-esque piano, even the hand claps. LaMonde contributes a handful of gems, from the Cooper-esque "Under My Halo" to "Bag O' Spiders." And even if his inspirations are more metal, Strutt's clearly speaking a very compatible language here on highlights ranging from "9:16 ... I'm a Time Bomb" to "Hey Little Demon," all bashed away at with aplomb by longtime drummer/former Ultimatic Angelo Amantea.

As LaMonde points out with a laugh, "We are the Science Fiction Idols. So it is a Science Fiction Idols record."

As for how the new kid came to dominate the writing process on "Diamonds and Demons," LaMonde says, "I kind of had a rough year -- a lot of stress at work and personal stuff that can kind of preoccupy you. I guess I was psychologically absent for a good part of the writing period for this. So I wasn't contributing as much. But I mean, Gary's got a good voice, as we saw last record with 'Cats Galore.' And he was able to handle a lot more this year because I was sort of preoccupied. I kind of came around a little bit toward the end and wrote a couple little nuggets that are more indicative of me. I wish I would have contributed some more but I was happy with letting him go a little bit. We'll see next time around. Maybe I won't lose a handle on it as much."

It's not that there's a power struggle in the band, he says, although he will admit to what he calls a "healthy" sense of competition in the air.

"I just didn't have as much magic this time," LaMonde admits. "So Gary kind of stepped up. And I'm glad he did. He's a talented guy. You could look at it as a Lennon-McCartney or Stanley-Simmons vocal trade-off. At first, I think Gary was sort of my Keith or my Ace. I always kind of liked those roles. But this is cool, too."

Strutt, who was still fairly new to the Idols when they cut the last one, thinks they've come a long way in the past two years, since bringing in new bassist Harrison Dray, who didn't play on "Spooky Sugar."

"When we're playing shows or rehearsing, I really don't pay much attention to what the other guys are doing," he says. "I'm more concentrating on improving what I'm doing. But now that I listen to the record, I can hear what everyone is doing. I think we've got some good chemistry going on. We all do our own thing but we're all about the song."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Ed Masley can be reached at emasley@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.) - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/01/05


"Diamonds And Demons - review 3"

Idols' 'ragged guitar rock' comes home

Science Fiction Idols
What: CD release party.

When: 9 p.m. Saturday.

Admission: $5.

Where: 31st Street Pub, Strip District.

Details: 412-391-8334.

Science Fictions Idols
Justin Merriman/Tribune-Review


By Regis Behe
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, December 1, 2005


In a perfect world, the Science Fiction Idols would take a time machine back to the late 1970s. They'd be regulars at CBGB's in New York and the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles. They'd hang out with the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, grace the covers of Creem and Trouser Press magazines,
There's only one problem with that scenario: Despite a band name that inspires visions of Isaac Asimov penning a story about a rock band, time machines don't exist.

More realistically, the Science Fiction Idols are too young to have tapped into the late '70s rock scene.

"I was 10 in the late 1970s," says drummer Angelo Amantea.

That doesn't mean they can't kick out the jams today. "Diamonds and Demons," which the Idols unveil Saturday at 31st Street Pub is simultaneously retro and contemporary, a blast from the past updated for the 21st century. It's ragged guitar rock with attitude, and while the easy comparison is glam rock, it's so much more than that.

"We all love that kind of soulful, gritty, rootsy sound," Amantea says, noting an affinity for bands such as Hanoi Rocks and New York Dolls. "At the same time, we love the pop-ness of Cheap Trick. But Cheap Trick was pretty nasty when they first came out."

The Science Fiction Idols were born when Amantea and singer-guitarist Bobby Lamonde, formerly of Trash Vegas, finally decided it was time to play in the same band. Lifelong friends -- they've known each other since they were five, growing up in Oakland -- they never joined forces, because, Amantea says, "he always had his own thing going, I had mine."

But after the band's original lineup fizzled in 2000, Amantea, who had been in The Ultimatics, signed on with Lamonde's group, as did guitarist Gary Strutt. Bassist Harrison Dray would later complete the band.

The quartet's first album, "Spooky Sugar," was released in 2003 after they won the Graffiti Rock Challenge. "Diamonds and Demons," follows suit, and although Lamonde and Strutt are the principal songwriters, Amantea does have a way of getting his input heard.

"On 'Mystery and Magic,' I wrote the lyrics and I told Gary the feel I wanted," he says. "Me and Gary seem to have a feel like that. 'Bubblegum Blues' was like that: I told Gary, I'm feeling the need for a bar-room style Faces rocker, and he had it for me."

Now, if the band could only find the audience it deserves. Amantea doesn't want to impugn his hometown, but he's cognizant that unless a band plays rockabilly, punk or metal in Pittsburgh, it's fighting an uphill battle.

"Sometimes I think some of the stuff that's less aggressive and more song-oriented kind of goes over their heads, because people just want something to bang around to," Amantea says, "at least in some of the underground places that we play, our normal haunts."

Which doesn't mean the band doesn't, or can't, fit in. Amantea notes the Idols have played on bills with punk bands, and held their own.

"If you really think about where we're coming from, T-Rex and bands like that, Rod (Stewart) and the Faces, that's what the punk rock bands were listening to," he says. "Before there was punk rock, there was that stuff."

"We like to play music that gets people's hips moving," Amantea says. "We're just worried about the songs, and we want you to walk away with a tune in your head."



Regis Behe can be reached at rbehe@tribweb.com or (412)320-7990
- Pittsburgh Tribune Review 12/01/05


"Diamonds And Demons - review 4"

The Science Fiction Idols are a raunchy, Glam/Punk band from the streets of Pittsburgh. The band proudly wears their influences on their sleeves and man, there are plenty, but not to worry it's all good! SFI's sound ranges from the New York Dolls to T. Rex to Ziggy Stardust and right down to the Stones. Indeed, the band has a lot to offer and it's no wonder as they have not one but two singers/guitarist in Gary Strutt and Bobby Lamonde.
SFI's third and latest disc is entitled Diamonds And Demons. Inside you'll find eleven tracks that'll restore that certain aspect of your youth you've been missing, or if you're a youngan it'll take you to school for sure. "I Want You To Lie" is the first of many catchy lil ditties. Gary Strutt handles all lead/guitar vocals with Lamonde offering up solid background vocals. Strutt's vocals are very reminiscent of Kevin Steele from the old band Roxx Gang and you can never go wrong with that! Bobby Lamonde makes his first lead/guitar vocal appearance on "Pissed You In New York" which happens to be one of the finest glitter/glam tunes I've heard in some time. If you like that glittery glam stuff and Lamonde's vocals, you'll enjoy "Bubblegum Blues" even more! The song structure brings back wonderful memories of blasting Smashed Gladys while cruising around with my best girl and a cold six pack. The glittery goodness and Lamonde's vocals don't stop here. "Bag O' Spiders" makes me feel like I've entered a timewarp and I'm in love!! Ya know you can't have a Glam/Punk disc without a ballad or at least a pseudo ballad and this is where "Mystery And Magic" comes into play. Strutt makes his presence felt on this tune with a stellar vocal performance coupled with some slick slide guitar licks.

Although, I'm not familiar with the complete discography of the Idols, I've heard a few mp3's from their previous albums and I can't help but feel that with the release of Diamonds And Demons, the band has finally come into it's own. I highly recommend picking this cd up, it's brought back so many memories of times and bands that I'd long forgotten. This is a guaranteed good timin' cd, so pick it up and have a ball!!!

- Black Angel Productions 12/22/05


Discography

new CD on the way...!
2005's "Diamonds And Demons"

"Wild Violets", "I Want You To Lie", & "Little Demon" have all gotten radio play.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"The CosmoSonics" rock 'n' roll extravaganza was born from the ashes of Pittsburgh PA's glam 'n 'roll band, "The Science Fiction Idols".
Left in the wake of the 'Idols' demise was Gary (Vox & Guitars), Harrison (Bass & Vox), and Angelo (Drums). These boys then recruited guitarist extraordinairre Chaz Zalapski to round out their stellar cast of misfits.

The 'Sonics' sound was cooked up in a rock 'n' roll stew, combining equal parts sonic bombast (ala 70s Kiss / "Roth era" Van Halen), subtle blues groove (ala the Faces / Stones), snarly punk rock(ala Sex Pistols) and gnarly old-school metal (ala Motley Crue). Some have described the band's sound as "Buckcherry discovering Cheap Trick's early catalog."

Each member of this fearsome foursome is a seasoned veteran in the rock scene. Chaz had spent four years with horror-rock gods "Hallowmas" while Ang, Gary, and Harrison had spent four years with the "Sci Fi Idols". Previous to the Idols, Angelo (Ultimatics), Harrison (Tunnelhead), and Gary (Child Of Fire) honed their craft with earlier bands.

During the boys tenure in "the Science Fiction Idols", they released two killer CDs. 2004 saw the release of "Spooky Sugar", followed in 2006 with the release of "Diamonds And Demons, which gained the band critical acclaim, including an excellent (8 of 10 stars) review in the worldwide rock magazine "Classic Rock". "Brave Words And Bloody Knuckles" also gave the "Diamonds..." record another excellent review, along with international exposure. The band achieved notoriety in the greater Pittsburgh area in 2003, after claiming first place in the annual competition known as the "Graffiti Rock Challenge," which is by far the most acclaimed and celebrated event of its nature in the tri-state area !

Songs like "I Want You To Lie" show an ability to deliver a hook that would make a pirate proud, and tunes such as "Bubblegum Blues" may just intice you into performing a drunken dance of romance in your local graveyard ! Also, be sure to check out the rollicking "Stun Gun Fun" and sweet-as-pie, yet humble "Wild Violets" as evidence that the band refuses to rest on its songwriting laurels.