The 70s costume pageant that started in the 90s is still rolling merrily along, and now that we've revisited Detroit protopunk (the Go, the Bellrays), power pop (Sloan, Fountains of Wayne), metal boogie (Nashville Pussy), and the Ramones (the entire roster of Lookout Records), the Yo-Yo's, a pack of grinning blokes from Richmond upon Thames, are bent on reviving tuneful Britpunk. On their debut album, Uppers and Downers (Sub Pop), they make good on their UK buzz, pumping out sharp melodies and footballer choruses with good-humored brio. Their greaser haircuts and nods to Eddie Cochran have led a few scribes to compare them to the Clash--but that's laying it on pretty thick, given their utterly brain-dead rants about lovelorn frustration and vague rebellion ("I don't need you / I've got my big shoes and tattoos"). If you want to hear their true 70s counterparts, try pub-rock pretenders like the Vibrators, the Lurkers, or the Boomtown Rats. These days the emergence of a punk band truly embracing radical politics as anything more than a pose seems pretty unlikely: even the MC5's quasi-revolutionary stance has been boiled down to tight pants and mirrored shades, so the short-lived but dead-serious class warfare of mid-70s London will doubtless be overlooked in the quest for just the right angle of pointed sideburns. Uppers and Downers may be one of the year's best-sounding punk records, but if I had to decide whether to eat lunch with the Yo-Yo's or 'N Sync, I'd probably just flip a coin. Sunday, 3 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 773-404-5080. Sunday, 7 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700. J.R. JONES
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve Gullick.