Alien Crime Syndicate
Anyone who has watched more than a couple "X-Files" episodes knows, aliens are among us. What makes aliens intriguing is they offer a different perspective. That may have been what singer/guitarist/songwriter Joe Reineke was striving for when he formed Alien Crime Syndicate in '97. Songs like "Take Me To Your Leader," "Outerspace" and "Trippin' Up To The Clouds" certainly had a unique spin. But it's hard to keep the "other worldly" vibe going when your wheels are a gray beater that looks like a "Repo Man" reject. So there was a shift toward songs about success ("I Want It All" and "Break The Record") and the joys of (highly profitable) arena Rock ("Ozzy").
When Reineke's band the Punk-pop Meices bit the dust, he hooked up with drummer Nabil Ayers and bassist Jeff Rouse, who had the dark and brooding look down. With the departure of the group's original guitarist, Mike Squires joined.
Starting in San Francisco, Alien Crime Syndicate soon moved to L.A. where they nailed a major label deal in '98. Bright future? Rock stardom? Not yet. The label had a change at the top and Alien Crime Syndicate's quirky power pop-Rock was no longer a priority - hell, it wasn't even a consideration.
The group relocated to Seattle to hone their live act. Recording "Dust To Dirt" in '99 on the small Collective Fruit label resulted in tour work and modest radio airplay.
Once again a major label, this time Warner Bros., entered the fray. Scheduled to release "From The Word Go" corporate infighting/re-organization/re-prioritizing did the group in and they were once again without a label. But Will Records stepped in and released the album in '00.
V2 Records unleashed "XL From Coast To Coast" featuring the ode "Ozzy" (written before Ozzy and his clan became MTV favs), in '02.
2000 Dust To Dirt
2000 From The Word Go
2002 XL From Coast To Coast
2004 Ten Songs In The Key Of Betrayal
Singer, guitarist and primary songwriter, Reineke claims Cheap Trick and the Replacements as major influences and it's evident. With songs like "I Want It All," "Take Me To Your Leader" and even "Ozzy," there is a unique, slightly off-kilter lyrical perspective that is intriguing. That Alien Crime Syndicate injects some fun and humor into what they do while still kickin' is a definite plus.
ACS's debut "Dust To Dirt" features the vocally idiosyncratic "I Want It All." It's a good start. "From The Word Go," with Reineke composing all the songs, suffers from a bit of the sophomore slump. Led by the opening tracks "Ozzy" and "Break The Record," "XL From Coast To Coast" has a denser, power pop-Rock sound that is hard to resist.