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RONALD KOAL AND THE TRILLIONAIRES (Buy CDs by this artist)
Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires (No Other) 1982
DRAGSTERS
Stoked (Great Jones) 1989
RONALD KOAL BAND
White Light (Watertower) 1991
TODD NOVAK
Raspberry Moonshine (Tres Payasos) 2012

On their 1982 album, the Trillionaires — a semi-modern Ohio rock quintet — come on like a kitschy version of the Suburbs. Koal has one of those melodramatic Anthony Newley-type voices, but doesn't sound selfconscious about it; the songs are cinematic and campy, with subject matter like "Check the Attic" and "Beast in the Cellar." The '60sish "(Theme from) Girl World" achieves the same B-movie effect without words.

Years later, two of the Trillionaires (not including Koal) resurfaced in New York's Dragsters, a quartet dedicated to twang-and-sax beach instrumentals but open to the occasional vocal by guitarist Todd Novak. Stoked soaks in the exact same cars-sun-surf-film nostalgia as every other album by bands that pray to Dick Dale and Duane Eddy, but the harmony-filled Beach Boys sound of "Waikiki" and P.F. Sloan's "Anywhere the Girls Are" wisely add a musical dimension that prevents the surrounding tracks from sliding into twistable tedium.

[Ira Robbins]