Music » Music Feature

Amsterdam or Bust

Boatzz head for the Netherlands, Uzi in hand.

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The members of Cleveland four-piece Boatzz are as persistent as the hooks that gild their anxious art-pop.

Among other things, the band endured having its van stolen in 2004, while it was playing in New York City.

"We were considering just staying in New York. Mike's like, 'We could hustle or get modeling jobs,'" says guitarist Matt Jauch, his face shrouded by a thin layer of smoke.

The Cleveland music community stepped up to help, holding a pair of benefit concerts featuring bands such as Kill City Kills, Sounder, and the A-Tens.

Since then, Boatzz has been on something of a lucky streak, capped by a 10-date, all-expenses-paid tour of the Netherlands, courtesy of the internet promotion company Sonicbids.

The band got the good news while playing in New York.

"The band we were playing with, the Hard Lessons, from Detroit, they got picked and turned it down," Jauch explains. "Later that night, we got the call. We were the first runner-up."

Though they just finished an album, the promise of Amsterdam already has them dreaming of more recording.

"There's enough songs we could record a whole 'nother album, if we had enough drugs and could just lock ourselves in the studio for a few weeks," says Jauch. "That's the dream."

They've had plenty of time to think about it; the tour was originally scheduled for June and then postponed. The quartet used the time to record a 4-song EP, Uzi, and shoot a video for the song "Confidence" with Don Tyson (Ringworm, Mastodon).

The silent-picture-style clip (available on YouTube) finds the band members, dressed in suits, being chased by the camera as they run maniacally, like the Beatles in Help! The visual reference fits the song, which rushes along with bop-bopping backing vocals and a soulful, mod-punk attack reminiscent of Supergrass.

The new disc's highlight is the punchy "Coalmine," a joyous, infectious two-minute pop song fueled by satiric wit. The quartet sounds like a punked-up Talking Heads, with frontman Michael DiLiberto singing, "I can't help but feel the best years of my life are being robbed."

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