The Affair

Yes Yes to You (Absolutely Kosher)

As in any field of endeavor, certain cliches arise around women in music. If they're singing rock 'n' roll, those stereotypes include: tuff chick/wild woman out of control, naif/waif, tortured poet/grad student. Kali Holloway, frontwoman for New York City-based combo the Affair, fortunately falls into none of these easy markers. While her clear, commanding, emotion-laden voice occasionally evokes other singers — Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, Blondie's Deborah Harry circa 1976, Martha Reeves of Martha & the Vandellas — she sounds like an all-grown-up, been-around-the-block woman who doesn't confuse brattiness with self-assurance and passion. The rest of the Affair match her zeal every step of the way, with drums cracking like fireworks exploding in metal trash cans, distorted 1960s garage-band organ, and lean, crunching guitars (with no superfluous soloing). Yes to You's songs are two- and three-minute marvels of economic construction and sharply memorable punk-pop melodic hooks. Pick-to-click hit: “Anything But Disco (You Ruined My Life)” — imagine the Shangri-Las strutting in front of a surly Polyphonic Spree. Just when I think this rock 'n' roll stuff has run its course and/or sunken to self-parody, along come bands like the Affair to show there's still plenty of vitality in the old beast. — Mark Keresman

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