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When times are tough and the one you love doesn't love you enough or isn't worth loving at all, turn to Kiddo. When you're too nice to tell someone to take a long walk off a short pier, look to Kiddo. When days are gloomy and you just wish you could be speeding down the freeway in a top-down convertible hollering at the top of your lungs with your best friends, it's Kiddo youâd want to hear on the radio, over and over again. Resembling a caffeine-and-sugar-loaded Blake Babies/Juliana Hatfield kidnapped by Travis Morrison and forced to write pop tunes, Kiddo's self-titled debut will soon take its rightful place in your musical medicine cabinet as the balm/bomb. Fancy the twee sensibilities of bands like Heavenly? The lovelorn punk of the Smoking Popes? Or are you bored hearing that same Get Up Kids song on the radio every four minutes? Let Kiddo's tough but tender tunes put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

One of the extra-super-special ingredients that puts Kiddo above so many competing popsters is the Motor City/Mistake-On-The-Lake combination, i.e. Detroit/Cleveland (just for the record, Detroit's cars are still burning but the river isn't, thankfully). Singer-songwriter ex-Detroiter Christian Doble took that drive down I-75 with a new job, a girlfriend, and a sackful of songs that weren't really quite what the garage rock n' soul crowd back home wanted to hear. Upon his arrival in Cleveland, Christian discovered the bubblings of a cool little scene between clubs like the Grog Shop and the then-newly-opened Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. So he took out his songs and began to work.

The job held fast, but the girlfriend situation fizzled. As is often the case in such instances, Christian was churning out songs even faster than before. His newfound moxie made him some new friends--bassist Liz Wittman and drummer Greg Hyland and forced a town hopped up on metal and punk to put down its fists and have fun. Show after show the tenacious trio's on-stage collection of furniture, charismatic delivery and stompinâ rhythm section (To paraphrase Liz, "Ya gotta be feisty. We're a pop band in Cleveland!") won them fans in Ohio and Michigan.

It's this winning formula that's been put down oh-so-nicely by studio wizard Don Depew at 609 Studios (Cobra Verde, Guided By Voices, New Bomb Turks). Guitars churn and jangle, Liz and Christian sing like kids at the best summer camp sing-a-long ever, while Greg's drumming keeps the pop rockin'. Opening track "Woodward Avenue" just piles on the hooky ear candy verse after impossibly catchy verse; "Still Not My Girl" recalls bubblegum days when radio waves were filled with lyrics like "ooh-wah"; "Amy" is a horny anthem that asks the not-so-rhetorical question, "what makes a girl such a fox?"; "Surfin' Thru" is Liz's sassy rock dance party number. In the words of Cleveland Scene's Music Editor Jason Bracelin: "Kiddo is a collection of near-perfect pop that helps make February feel like July."

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