Hearing old New York Dolls records is a good indicator of how retro-hip your momentary environment is, like when I heard the band’s entire debut LP playing at the Friendly Toast, a breakfast dive celebrating its 10th or so year as the punching bag of the Portsmouth, N.H., health department. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the band’s older proto-garage-punk, you know NYD singer David Johansen from his roles as Buster Poindexter and the cab-driver ghost in Scrooged, and that’s pretty much where this act is at now — they’re a fat, dumb and happy piece of history, and very aware of it — you can practically hear the punch of the time clock as the guys settle in, fresh from some smelly sidewalk, to run through these tunes. Everyone has a friend, or a dad of a friend, who’s got a garage band, and that’s what this sounds like, but one that’s way too good to be a garage band, mainly owing to Johansen’s Marlboro-ravaged over-the-top-ness. From a quick glance at Google, it looks like they hope to place the horn-blasted joke-tune “Funky But Chic” on something-or-other’s top 10, but much better fashionista-baiting is found on “I’m So Fabulous,” a midtempo punker you’d love to see soundtracking the crazed destruction of mannequins on a Sex & the City set.
A —Eric W. Saeger