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The Rumble Strips and a Tipsy Wake-Up Call

The Rumble Strips' music sounds lifted from an era when seven-inch singles were the norm and post-punk British bands approximated old soul records using a limited skill set. Those R&B-inspired rock tunes sounded just wrong enough to emerge as something new and very right.

Singer-songwriter Charlie Waller evokes the passionate yowl of XTC's Andy Partridge and Dexys Midnight Runners' Kevin Rowland, and he sings of the usual stuff: Girls and Weather, as The Rumble Strips' debut CD title indicates. But he's also a bright wit, as on "Alarm Clock."

The song finds Waller wanting to smash his nagging (and seemingly anthropomorphic) alarm clock, because it won't stop urging him to get out of bed and find a job: "Well, I don't like doing things / that other folks tell me to do / So I hit him with a hammer / and now he's quite subdued."

As Waller fights the urge to join the rat race with the aid of a manically strummed guitar, sax-and-trumpet blasts animatedly back up his decision to lay low. If the English band sounds slightly tipsy, that may well be because it is. Raw skills, however, can't hide the witty, warm and inviting soul in The Rumble Strips' songs.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Christopher Porter
Christopher Porter is a freelance writer, editor and photographer based in Silver Spring, Md. He has a bad back and great hair. His work has appeared in Alternative Press, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN the Magazine, Inside Entertainment, Global Rhythm, Harp, JazzTimes, National Geographic World Music, Time Out Chicago, The Stranger, Vibe, Washington City Paper and The Washington Post. He blogs and repurposes junk at