"Do you even know why you still love rock and roll?" Viva Caramel singer-guitarist Brian Strazek asks on his band's eponymous debut. For those who may have forgotten, Viva Caramel provides a dozen reminders.
With two vocalists, touches of trumpet, trombone, and sax, and a cover that features baboons in tube socks, Viva Caramel teems with wit and whimsy. Oh, and it rocks too. "Friday Night" sets the curve with rumbling bass, Strazek's taunting vocals, and loud, lewd guitar. The band balances brains and brawn as do few of its peers, combining sharp, biting lyrics with amp-melting force on such cuts as the throbbing "Radio" and "Option 3 (Three)." Long one of Cleveland's most powerful live acts, the band has captured all the intensity of its gigs on Viva Caramel. Just add your own sweat and spilled beer.