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Feast Your Ears

The Eat offers a taste of Miamiís proto-punk past

The rest of the 30 tracks proceed similarly. Classic rock and roll forms the core of the songs, which sometimes dart back into power pop or almost psych-garage turf. Most are crowned by Ebola-catchy, yelp-along pub-rocky choruses.

Granted, it's not always completely original. At the end of my first spin of the quick-hitting, minor-key "Mary Mary," I immediately hit repeat. Part way through the second listen, I realized why. The chords were familiar. I had also heard the aggro guitar strumming, even the drumming style. They were all on one of my all-time personal favorite songs, "Ever Fallen in Love" by the Manchester, England punk group the Buzzcocks.

At other times on the disc, though, the Eat exhibits an almost depressing unpredictability. Depressing because it's the sort of experimentation and format-hopping that would soon be stunted by the advent of MTV, corporate radio, and the Internet. For instance, the 12th track, "Sub-Human," is standard brat-punk. But it's followed by the unexpectedly saxophone-driven "Nixon's Binoculars." There's an in-your-face tone that foreshadows the New York-style post-punk of, say, the Talking Heads.

Above all, It's Not the Eat, It's the Humidity is an aural portrait of a band doing its thing on its own terms. The foursome refused to play the era's standard bar-band covers, refused to dress like its more New Wave-style peers, even refused to practice much. Regardless of personal preference for the sonic outcome, the recordings' underlying attitude of devil-may-care joy, stardom or conformity or whatever be damned, is enviable. Anyone picking up an instrument in this town would do well to take note.

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