Queen Sarah Saturday

  • Queen Sarah Saturday
  • Queen Sarah Saturday EP (Thirsty Ear) 1993 
  • Weave (Thirsty Ear) 1993 
  • June German EP (Sound Proof) 1995 

Ten seconds into “Lift,” the leadoff song on Queen Sarah Saturday’s longplaying debut, someone whips out the hoariest fast-break guitar cliché in the how-to-grimace-and-get-chicks playbook. A minute later, the unspecified offender is back at the trough for a refill. In the meantime, vocalist/guitarist Johnny Irion has managed to demonstrate just how challenging the intricacies of generic alterna-rock melodics can be to a non-singer. There are moments on Weave where the young Durham, North Carolina quartet doesn’t quite sound like a bunch of no-talents ineffectually attempting to ape the latest sounds in Northwest grungery — but not many. Iron and Ryan Pickett do whip up a competent frenzy of honking guitar squall on “Dreamer” and elsewhere (they also nervously muster a bit of Southern twin-leads on the gentle introduction to “Water”), but that’s not much to hang an album on. (The pre-LP Queen Sarah Saturday EP contains a live version of “Lift” as well as three casually recorded non-LP songs. Thanks to the band’s diffidence and seeming studio inexperience, “Gigi” and the eight-minute “ACD-C” almost come out all right.)

After parting company with its label, the band cut, and got some North Carolina friends to release, a winningly modest five-song EP displaying all the invention, taste and personality absent from the album. The diverse and all-too-brief June German leads off with “Robert De Niro,” an energetic Midwest-styled pop-punk rave with mad-crazy bass and cool lyrics (“Oh my goodness, he knows a thing about a thing or two/Robert De Niro on a train, and your ass is on the tracks stuck with Super Glue”), and backs it up with the flower-powered “Sugar Momma” and the pretty, low-key and weird “Mr Magic Teeth.”

[Ira Robbins]