Pretty Noise

What's a rock band to do?

While the White Stripes-Hives-Strokes-copycat-set suck the Sixties and Seventies dry, other rockers come on like ever-weaker aftershocks from the Nineties' "alternative music" explosion (Pearl Jam-lite swaggerers Creed; MTV darlings du jour the Vines). Although decidedly of the latter camp, the Miami-based Stop Motion manages to wield its Nineties alt-rock influences for good rather than evil.

Formed from the ashes of other projects in the late Nineties by singer Juan Lopez and bassist Gaston de la Vega, the Stop Motion laces its soaring guitar lines with sugary vocals. Last year's self-produced CD Crush reveals marked Nirvana-cum-Miami's-own-Machete proclivities, but the basic framework of most Stop Motion songs owes its biggest debt to the Pixies. Drummer Ari Dimitriou's midtempo rhythms jut up against guitarist Alex Garcia's jagged, looping melodies, and there's even a little bit of Pixies frontman Black Francis (a.k.a. Frank Black) in Lopez's plaintive tenor, a surprisingly saccharine voice coming from the linebacker-sized singer.

"When we first recorded, none of his friends could believe that was his actual voice," laughs de la Vega.

Lopez offers no apologies. "There are too many bands out there trying to sound all [University of Miami radio station] WVUM: self-consciously different and tuneless," he complains. "It just sounds like soulless garbage." Although Stop Motion has enough of its own soul ready for a new full-length CD, the band's pockets are too shallow to do any more recording right now. Lopez, in particular, feels the crunch, dividing his time (and money) between the band and his wife and daughter. Three-year-old Alexandra will probably be getting a set of Baby's First Earplugs come Christmas -- both Juan and his wife Kristy, bassist for Bling-Bling, are trying to sustain musical careers in Miami.

"Whatever I do musically, it has to be in Miami," says Lopez, who toils for tips in a Pinecrest seafood restaurant to support his family and band (he even devotes space in the CD's liner notes to giving a "100% fuck you" to people who don't leave a minimum 15 percent tip). "I can't just take off for New York."

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Forrest Norman
Contact: Forrest Norman