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Pop Reviews : Trip Shakespeare Carves Its Own Niche

Honest romanticism and winking hipness aren’t supposed to work together. So how do you explain the L.A. debut of Trip Shakespeare at Club Lingerie on Wednesday? How a simple fairy tale turned into a novelty dance called the slacks, how a twisted comic-book adventure became a hilarious rhyming farmland epic of, well, near-Shakespearean proportions? And, most important, how youthful irreverence did nothing to diminish the bare sentimentality of a closing ballad, or vice versa?

The Minneapolis quartet is obviously a band that’s willing and able to carve out its own distinct and rewarding niche. Maybe if L.A.'s wacky metal parodists Redd Kross had been weaned on Neil Young and the Band instead of Kiss and the Partridge Family, they might sound something like this. The harmonies and emotions are heartland-pure and plain, but the attitude is television-generation-hip. The trick of the Trip is that it’s never snide--an accomplishment that has eluded virtually all who have tried for this chemistry (not that many have tried). And, not incidentally, the band writes great hooks, and it rocks. Maybe the name says it all.


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