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The Rock*A*Teens

They've come from a place called Cabbagetown, in Georgia, these strange, sad men called the Rock*A*Teens, to share their pathos and pain and grim, wry humor with you through the strange and wonderful medium of rock and roll. And indeed, they use the medium in strange and wonderful ways, taking the kinds of dense walls of sound one associates with '60s Phil Spector productions or bands like The Zombies, and corrupting them with reverb drench, lo-fi garage production, punk-rock desolation, rockabilly slop, and heartland majesty. It makes for a roaring, rambling, messily beautiful sound that comes across as very American but somehow quite alien too.

As legend has it, the group first began playing together on April Fool's Day in an old millhouse in their native Cabbagetown. Current members Christopher Lopez (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Justin Davis Hughes (guitar, organ) were there, as were the now departed Kelly Hogan and Chris Verene. Naming themselves after a long-forgotten late-'50s one-hit-wonder, the Rock*A*Teens soon began touring and recorded an eponymous debut LP in 1996 for Daemon Records. A follow-up, Cry, came in '97. Then in '98, Ballard Lesserman replaced Verene on drums and William Joiner signed on to play the bass. The same year the Teens moved to Chapel Hill-based Merge, where they've kept up an album-a-year release schedule with Baby, A Little Rain Must Fall ('98), Golden Time ('99), and Sweet Bird of Youth ('00). That last record is the source of "Car and Driver" and "Betwixt or Between."