Former Go-Gos forging new careers haven't exactly set the pop world ablaze with fiery, inspired music. Judging by her set Friday at Laguna Beach's Club Postnuclear, Kathy Valentine may buck that trend slightly. Valentine definitely rocks much harder than her ex-bandmates.
The problem is that she, uh, rocks much harder than her ex-bandmates--like numbing, headbanger hard.
That's not wholly surprising, since in this as-yet-unnamed band, Valentine is working with guitarist Kelly Johnson, formerly with English metal merchants Girlschool. Valentine and Johnson had been performing together locally in an outfit called World's Cutest Killers; a new rhythm section appears to be the key difference between that band and this one.
Not everything in the 50-minute show was heavy-handed riffslinging, though. Partly because Valentine's vocal phrasing sometimes evokes Debbie Harry's, a couple of the leaner numbers recalled Blondie in its heyday.
The undernourished melodies that dogged most of the selections were beefed up occasionally by catchy vocal harmonies, as on "Careless Lies," a feisty, straight-ahead rocker with a stinging guitar solo by Johnson. And bassist Jeffrey Jones stepped front and center to sing lead on a slinky metallic shuffle.
On the other hand, the lyrics probably don't have John Hiatt--or even Jon Bon Jovi--looking over his shoulder.
Toward the end of the set, Valentine announced: "Lately, I've been having weird dreams--very weird dreams. I wrote a song about it." A few bars into "Strange Dreams," it turned out she had kinda stolen her own thunder: The song said no more--perhaps less--than the introduction. Indeed, most of the material suggests that Valentine has confused simplicity with simplemindedness.
Or worse. On the very next number, on which Johnson handled lead vocals, the lyrical hook consisted of the lines:
Twentieth Century Boy/I wanna be your toy.