Cheena’s “Spend The Night With…” Will Keep You Up ‘Til Dawn

cheena-album-cover

Some time ago, the advance word on the Strokes was that they were a classic New York band, ready to take on the mantle of forebears like the Dolls, Television, and the Velvet Underground.  That as it turns out, the Strokes kinda sucked made us permanently wary of all hyped entrants in the “New York band” insta-mythmaking.  As Mike Bloomberg mighta said, I lived in New York during the CBs days, and I know a con when I hear one.

It’s true that the Brooklyn bands emerging over the past 10 years, collectively and in many cases individually, rival the output of New York in the late ’70s, with a breadth and heterogeneity that reflects a city this large, diverse, and great.  And just as in the CBGB days, when it was Blondie that had the first real hit while bands like the Fleshtones, dBs, and Individuals went overlooked, the fact that The National became Brooklyn’s arena rockers while the Amen Dunes, Woods, and Parquet Courts simply released the epoch’s best records seems about par for the course.

So when we first heard about Cheena, and the comparisons invoked were to the New York Dolls and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, our bullshit detector went up.  And then we listened to “Car,” the first single off Spend The Night With…, and we immediately muttered “sonofabitch” under our quickening breath, for sure enough, this is a band as dingy as the mens room at TR3, as real as waiting in subzero temps to get into the Mudd Club, as tasty as the egg cream at Dave’s on Canal.

Comprised of vets from various New York bands, Cheena sound like what woulda happened if the Flamin’ Groovies had played “Slow Death” at the Mercer Arts Center, opening for the Dolls in 1972 just before the roof collapsed. With a sound comprised of muddy vocals and a persistent, “Silver Train” slide guitar, Spend The Night With… is never not fun.  There is nothing profound about Cheena, and they don’t try to be anything more than that band that plugs in while beer gets guzzled and you cross that threshold where you know you’ll have to call in sick to your job. This is late-night Downtown music for the City That Never Sleeps.  Download this album and you won’t want to either.

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