Record Review 

When you've got a name that basically means shit monkeys, it's really going to take a leap of faith to believe that the music concealed behind another bizarre CD cover is worth a serious listen. Well, take that leap.

Hailing from Germany (no wonder), Guano Apes' Don't Give Me Names is a surprisingly gripping follow-up to the acclaimed -- yet largely unheard stateside -- Proud Like a God.

Released last year in Europe, Don't Give Me Names is a punk/rock/metal/pop mélange that is simultaneously contemporary and a throwback. Splashes of aggression and musing melody fuse around the stellar dynamic vocals of Sandra Nasic. Nasic, who also writes the lyrics, is reminiscent of Skunk Anasie's Skin, Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Shirley Manson of Garbage, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Debbie Harry and the Cardigans' Nina Persson.

Perhaps that's a sexist reference tool too often applied to females fronting rock bands, but it's a truism here. That's a tribute to Nasic and her band's ability to aptly cover many different styles within the scope of an album without sounding disjointed or weak. Tracks such as "Gogan," "Anne Claire" and "Mine All Mine" illustrate the blending of these stark clashes most dazzlingly.

If one listens very closely, there also are subtle hints of Doro Pesch and the Scorpions in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it bridge passages of "Money and Milk" and "Living a Lie." Don't Give Me Names is a string of clarified moments of brilliance sustained by studied musical contrasts -- a must own.


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