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Gwenmars is a throwback, for sure, and that's just fine. The L.A. power trio (and we do mean power) gives nods to the finest dark, swirling post-punk new wave groups of the early '80s (think Echo and The Bunnymen and Psychedelic Furs) and the great flamboyant glam rockers of the '70s (T. Rex and early Roxy Music) in crafting their driving, fuzzed-out, punk-inflected power pop songs. The band's energy is consistently high, their rhythms so bombastic they threaten to knock you down, their melodies so absurdly infectious you'll wonder if you should call a doctor. Singer/guitarist Mike Thrasher (now that's a darn fine name for a rock star) is the band's mastermind, starting it after migrating from Birmingham, Alabama to Los Angeles in the early '90s and meeting drummer John Boutin and bassist Matt Westfield. Believe it or not, he named the group after his beloved kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mars (not a very rock star thing to do, but an eminently endearing one). The trio recorded its first album, Magnosheen, on Hollywood Records, then moved over to SeeThru Broadcasting after that label went bust, and recorded a sophomore effort, Driving a Million. That record features "Radio Gun," which could almost be a cheerful, uptempo The Jesus and Mary Chain number, and "Venus," which sounds a bit like The Cars pretending to be Cheap Trick. These guys might not be the most original band around, but they're clearly not particularly interested in being seen as groundbreakers, only in rocking out, fuzzily, flamboyantly, and f***ing hard.

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