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Atomic blasts Launchpad

Band's forceful sound on display with new album

The crowd may have been small at Atomic Love Medicine's CD release party at the Launchpad Thursday night, but the event was worth checking out, with performances by local bands Feels Like Sunday, Nitrous Burning Cactus Tractor and Inspired By Less.

Atomic singer and guitarist Neal Smith dressed up for the band's set in shoulder pads that looked like football apparel except that they were made out of a white feather boa. With red and white shin pads, Smith not only was ready to perform, but to play contact sports as well.

The three men who make up Atomic Love Medicine

make an interesting group that is fun to watch. Smith, the flamboyant and boisterous band member, is sometimes guilty of inadvertently stealing attention away from his band mates. Bassist Hank's reserved expressions fit nicely with his limited on-stage movement, while his rhythm section partner, drummer Mojo, is a polar opposite with wildly flailing arms and unique drumming style.

Atomic's self-titled EP, released on local label Socyermom Records, is a four-song album that offers the band's best songs, which have a hint of U2 and Smashing Pumpkins in its sound.

"Wwjd," "Salt," "Sullen" and "Principle" have striking, graceful melodies that transition into distorted riffs, which are well complemented by Smith's commanding vocals. Strong in both their expressive style and subtle, yet articulate nature, Smith's lyrics are profound even when his topics are nebulous.

"I am interested in sharing something with other people," Smith said.

Though Atomic's live shows are testaments to the trio's tight playing ability, the lyrics are often drowned out by loud guitars and drums. One of the best things about the CD is that it allows for closer examination of the words.

The Atomic CDs come with a few surprises. Three-D artwork and a pair of three-D glasses are a part of the interesting package and pencils with fortunes such as "Mommy says clowns aren't bad people, they're just misunderstood," are stuck into the tray case.

The show had its own surprises and Atomic members brought a huge cake for the show's attendees and an assortment of merchandise, such as T-shirts, necklaces and fan zines.

Atomic began in 1997 as a project started by Smith and Hank, who met about seven years before and wanted to create music together. Mojo joined later and the trio has since performed on local stages with countless bands. Over the years, Atomic members have recorded numerous demos and, though they took a few months off from the group last year, reunited with concrete ideas about how they wanted to proceed with their music.

Smith said that Atomic's goal is to stay in New Mexico and release albums every six months and keep the prices under $5. So far, so good, considering the current release cost four dollars.

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