Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires

  • Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires
  • 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]