Surely this is a joke, I thought upon reading that this mod garage band hails from Englishtown, New Jersey. Driving over the city limits, I imagined, you'd find all the townspeople wearing Beatle boots, polka-dot shirts, and three-button jackets, and you'd have to swerve into the left lane to miss the oncoming scooters. But there really is an Englishtown, New Jersey, about halfway between Trenton and the Atlantic coast, and far as I can tell the Insomniacs are its most valuable export. Formed in 1990 by drummer Michael Sin, with brothers David and Robert Wojciechowski on bass and guitar, the band played most of its early gigs on a local TV show that aired at 2 AM--hence their name. After releasing a mess of seven-inch singles and ten-inch EPs and scoring underground hits in Germany, the band signed to the uber-garage label, Estrus, and released Wake Up!, a CD compilation of those previous recordings. Out of It, their first full-length of new material, travels in the well-worn footsteps of the Who, the Kinks, the Small Faces, and late-60s Australian popsters the Easybeats, but the Insomniacs pack so many delicious hooks into 15 songs it's easy to forgive their lack of original vision (if not their Peter Tork haircuts). Last December the band opened one of the Mono Men's farewell gigs at the Empty Bottle, and the sheer quality of their material managed to prevail over a phenomenally lousy mix; perhaps this headlining gig will find them better served. If you're in the mood for pure pop, you won't want to miss this; you could always catch the band back in Englishtown, but I understand the food there sucks. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. There's a free in-store earlier in the day, at 5 PM at the Quaker Goes Deaf, 1937 W. North; 773-252-9334. J.R. JONES
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by E. Gorder.