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DANCING HOODS (Buy CDs by this artist)
12 Jealous Roses (Relativity) 1985
Hallelujah Anyway (Relativity) 1988

Formed on Long Island, birthplace of the Stray Cats and Billy Joel, Dancing Hoods (following a self-released eponymous EP) debuted with familiar-sounding heartland rock on 12 Jealous Roses, a confident and likable collection of tuneful originals. Singer-guitarist (and future A&R executive) Bob Bortnick, guitarist-singer (and future Sparklehorse leader) (Freddy) Mark Linkous and bassist-singer Eric Williams (who actually has the most writing credits here) pen simple rockers about the usual topics and deliver them in a melodic cut-to-the-chase style that isn't all that dissimilar to, say, the Del-Lords. A flatfooted cover of the Left Banke's pure-pop harmony classic "She May Call You Up Tonight" only serves to demarcate the quartet's vocal limitations.

Leaving Williams behind (replaced by one Mike Garacino), the Hoods relocated to Los Angeles and took a shot at heavy rotation with Hallelujah Anyway, an unambitious mainstream rock record produced by a John Mellencamp associate, Greg Edward. Although the songs aren't nearly as fresh or memorable as those on the first LP (well, there is a Leonard Cohen cover), the arrangements (colored by guest keyboards and pedal steel) make better use of them. Enjoy the Hoods' rudimentary debut and leave this one to radio programmers in satin jackets.

[Ira Robbins]
   See also Sparklehorse