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Head Cleaner Single Reviews

2/17/97 Single Of The Week

"Ready To Go" by Republica

Great name, great design, great lyrics ("always love the one you hurt") and a great song from Republica, a band formed by an ex-member of baggy 'ooligans Flowered Up and fronted by the striking vocalist Saffron. 

Take equal parts Sputnik, Shampoo, Transvision Vamp, Garbage, Age Of Chance (who?) and mix well. Add storming sequencers and power guitars and release at 45rpm. This is the kind of thing I love. A baggy piano riff is hidden deep inside an electro storm of effects and amped-up riffs over which some classic pop-punky vox belt out an anthemic tune. Ace. Unoriginal and cliched it might be but, hey - that's rock n roll. 

B-sides comprise the original mix of "Ready To Go" (no more than an extended version of the a-side), "Bloke" - an amphetamine put-down surrounded by massive electro shapes and a pounding rhythm, and "Holly (Club Mix)" which is a tranced-out slab of techno.  Rating: 9/10 

Head Cleaner Single Reviews


"Drop Dead Gorgeous" by Republica

Pop meets punk meets techno with Republica and this fine offering off their recent eponymous LP. Featuring the strained Cockney drawl of Saffron (bless her) and the thunderous musical backing of assorted Flowered Ups, Bow Wow Wows and N-Joi's, "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is an immediate, refreshing and monumental track, but one that is forgotten as soon as the laser stops hovering over the plastic (which doesn't sound as good as the needle leaving the groove, but who cares). 

A Chemical Brothers remix of "Out Of This World" is the first extra track, and is a spacey, ambient groove featuring some trademark CB bizarre samples and sounds (their new LP is monu-ahem-MENTAL, by the way). Next is "Mutha", featuring Saffron doing her best Toyah impressions. Damn fine, however, especially when the guitar kicks in. Last but not least is a seven-minute version of "Holly", one of the band's best songs, and a kicking mix.  Rating: 7/10 

CD Universe  

"Republica" by Republica

Album Notes: Personnel includes: Jez Williams (electric & acoustic guitars); John Male, Paul Cartlidge (guitar); Dave Arch (piano); Pete Davis (keyboards, programming). 

Recorded at Republica, Workhouse and Milo Studios, London, England. 

If you need a fix of British club music, but you're not quite ready to forsake your fondness for pop songcraft and distinctive performances, then Republica, a British quintet that spikes its modern rock with snappy synths and drum machines, may be just what you're looking for. On its debut, Republica keeps the bpm high enough to move your feet while employing enough pop smarts to catch your ear.  Those who are enamored of modern rock but tired of the sameness of many post-grunge guitar bands may find this album to be a breath of fresh air. Free of the alienation and cynicism that plague much of contemporary pop, the lyrics on REPUBLICA are largely celebratory, promoting the joys of life and advocating partying over navel-gazing introspection. With cutting-edge production and dense, arresting arrangements, this is an album that will capture as much attention in the living room as on the dance floor.

CD Review 4U  

Republica - Republica (DeConstruction/RCA) 3 

"It's a crack, I'm back, I'm standing on the rooftops shouting out Baby I'm ready to go, I'm back and ready to go, from the rooftops shout it out," OK people, over to the Stairmaster and let's work it. Sorry. One way to look at this band is as the first electronic/rock hybrid to issue from Garbage's sequenced loins, a band who, by the way, stole a good portion of their act from a British outfit called Curve. Republica at moments sound like Garbage Lite--great taste with half the substance and 100% psychosis-free. Or, you could see them as techno's first baby steps out of the dance floor-elevator music corner. Outside the strobes and midriffs bared in the rave setting, techno does not translate to living room contemplation. Which is fine, some might say, but this is capitalism, people! A market must be created to fill a void that's not there. And it worked. I play Republica in my living room ever so often, usually when I need some musical caffeine. This record isn't as bad as it appears on paper. The world does need spunky chick vocalists of dubious nationality with perky bosoms: as models for perky-bosomed teenagers to look up to and as fantasies for the masturbatory recreation of perverts like myself. Saffron, whose resume includes a stint with The Prodigy, fits the job description flawlessly with her dynamo energy and exotic lineage. Basically, she's the control of this electronic experiment by scientists Tim Dorney and Andy Todd. With that apparent success, the Digital Duo added the two other integral components of pop, guitars and drums. They lucked out with the inclusion of ex-Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow drummer Dave Barborossa, who didn't make it onto the record but who plays live with the unit and gives you a reason to look for a second Republica release. His tribal thumping might make this band's future. They do need to watch the guitar cheese, though. Electronic music geeks sometimes don't appreciate how detailed and specific a good guitar sound is. "Drop Dead Gorgeous" and "Holly" suffer as a result of bombastic guitar cheddar. If Republica has failed at giving techno the intellectual stimulus it so desperately lacks (this is a band named after New Order's latest album, after all), it has succeeded in giving it a reason to be played on home stereos. It will be interesting to see how far the group can take this concept, especially with Barborossa duelling with Dorney's drum machine. Until then, shake it, people! And may I propose a moratorium on bands titling themselves after noun formations ending in "-ca"? Thank you. --M.E. 

The Great Indoors  

Republica Republica RCA  

This British band's spiraling dance pop may be much less of the moment than everything else on the radio today, but it does stand out. Right now, not too many bands are welding energy, song craft, crisp pop production and dance beats. Vocalist Saffron, who has worked with N-Joi and the Shamen, has a smart, sassy voice that eschews girlishness; it sashays through these songs with a sense of purpose. Band co-founders Tim Dorney and Andy Todd wreathe her in restless, airy swirls of keyboards, while thick clots of guitar chords (by the band's live guitarist Johnny Male and others) give some of the tracks a rock tint. Former Adam Ant/Bow Wow Wow drummer Dave Barborossa makes a welcome reappearance in this band, augmenting their itchy, techno beats with the relentless, tribal throb he brought to his previous bands. It's probably best not to listen too closely to the lyrics, which are lightweight and fun, and you probably won't, what with the shimmering production, infectious tempos and the irresistible hooks of songs like the radio hit "Ready to Go," "Bitch," "Drop Dead Gorgeous" and "Holly." It's true that American rock fans have never felt much affinity for this sort of British music; the Pet Shop Boys certainly never earned the adulation here they did in England, as excellent as their music was. But if you like both bright pop songs and driving, urgent dance beats, Republica is an efficient little pleasure machine. -Anastasia Pantsios 

"Republica" by Republica

Next, we have the first release from the band Republica. Their self-titled release (RCA Records). With the a name like that, their promo material ("Vote Republica") falls in perfect sync with the upcoming November elections. 

This album is decent, but like the elections, it's definitely a mixed bag of nuts. Their first release from the album, Ready to Go (Which is, at least, a cool-looking CD single), while a great track, is not indicative of the rest of the album. The album reverts back and forth, between a Garbage-esque motif and Euro-Dance/House music, which, at times made me a bit dizzy. Picture Me is an interesting addition to the album, a safari mix of bongos and pipes... intertwined with what's probably .wav-translated-MIDI or something.  In all, if you want to experiment, or if you want an electronic soundscape that's more than just a glorified Casio keyboard, I'll recommend the album. However, I'll leave this one up to the ravers, dance clubs, the DJs to decide its true virtue.

MTV Online/Reviews

Republica (Deconstruction/RCA)

On the anthemic "Ready To Go," the first track on Republica's debut album, lead singer Saffron makes the following declaration: "I'm standing on the rooftop/Shout it out/Baby, I'm ready to go." And baby, she means it! Through eleven power-packed songs, Saffron ably struts her stuff, slyly shifting between coy boy toy and emancipated woman, all the while struttin' some major diva 'tude as if her life depended on it. And maybe it does. Quite frankly, if it weren't for her heavy-handed vocal delivery Republica would be just another British band striving for a sound that looks back in time as much as it looks ahead. But that voice. There ain't no denying its ferocity, its fearlessness, its fierceness. 

Like Annabella Lwin, Exene Cervenka, Poly Styrene, Chrissie Hynde, and Debbie Harry before her, Saffron prefers not to tag along for the ride, but to really feel the edgy rhythms, the angst of scorching guitars, the beat of the drum. And like these punk princesses, the Nigerian-born Saffron relies on energetic band members to keep the in-your-face pace free from stagnation. Trying to keep up with her, and coming mighty close in the process, are keyboardists Tim Dorney and Andy Todd, guitarist Johnny Male, and drummer Dave Barborossa. 

A quintet born of London's eclectic club scene, Republica revel in expansive soundscapes. That said, it should come as no surprise that incessant techno beats or hyped-up jungle break-beats get as worked over by scathing guitars as they are on "Bitch" and "Get Off." Or that punk trappings coolly co-opt poppier pleasures, like on "Ready To Go" and what better become the set's second single, "Don't You Ever." By not subscribing to any one singular sound sensation, the folks of Republica defiantly keep the listener guessing--which, in these times of genre-specific musicalities, is not a bad thing. 

In addition to its more obvious punk references, one can't help but wonder if the band wasn't also influenced by the electronic dance beats of Giorgio Moroder (Blondie's "Call Me" and Donna Summer's "Sunset People"). Perhaps the influence came indirectly, via British acts like the Grid, Orbital, N-Joi, and Peter Lazonby--who have all been seduced by Moroder's ahead-of-their-time trance beats, transforming them into the fashionable club sounds of today (and tomorrow). Everything old is new again? You bet! But whatever the cross-reference, there is no denying Republica's verve for hitting that perfect, danceable beat.  --Michael Paoletta

Head Cleaner  

"Republica" by Republica  

In the spirit of Transvision Vamp, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, or any other number of alternative manufactured pop acts, Republica let loose this broad salvo of feisty and spunky tunes. By topping and tailing the LP with the same song ("Ready To Go", albeit different mixes), Republica recognise their strength - as a power-pop singles band. "Ready To Go" is a classic of angry female vocals, thundering techno bass and drums and guitars, keyboards and effects, all mixed up to provide a bubblegum 3-minute treat. Stretching this formula over a whole LP is a bit riskier, and Republica's debut does begin to get old quick, and by "Bitch", the third song in, you start to think you've heard all they have to offer. Whilst this is to some extent true, Republica's formulaic style can produce some absolute gems - "Bloke", "Picture Me" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous" all conjuring up a mighty techno-punk tornado and letting it loose inside your stereo.    Republica, fashioned from members of N-Joi, Bow Wow Wow and Flowered Up are fronted by the inimtable Saffron, an energetic and enthusiastic vocalist with the word "star" written all over her. At times sounding a little too close to Toyah or Hazel O'Connor for comfort (not helped by the new-wave style backing of songs like "Bitch"), she is nevertheless a formidable frontperson for the band and does the job well. Some of the tunes work better than others, some treading the aforementioned murky new-wave regions, the best being an effective fusion of energetic dance, punk and pop.    Lyrically, Republica aren't looking for any awards, which is just as well given lines such as the cringe-inducing "I want to get off with you". Rather, they are the classic Good Time Band - just out for a laugh and to make one or two good tunes and a bit of money in the process. This they have achieved, and "Republica" is a good LP to play in the car, or is great to play before going out for the night, but is no classic. Play it loud, but just don't think about it too much.  3

Soundwaves...CD Reviews  

"Republica" by Republica

Don't you just love it when a band is heralded as "The Next Big Thing?" In some circles, namely RCA's, Republica is being touted as just that. Oh sure, "Ready To Go", the single from this, their debut album, is admittedly an infectious, driving techno-rocker that has all the markings of an alternative hit. But wow, does this UK-based group quickly fall into a disco/house groove that only a hit of Ecstasy could rescue. Led by syrupy-voiced Saffron, formerly with N-Joi and The Shamen, Republica is fairly well-known for their fiery, provocative live shows. And while most of the songs on Republica are certainly high-energy, most are relentlessly drum machine and electronically driven to the point of overkill. When Republica chooses to alter the tempo, as they do in the sexy "Picture Me", they do get interesting in a Bow Wow Wow kind of way. There is a sometimes anthemic quality to the lyrics, ("Out Of The Darkness"), but when the band falls back to their signature sound, as they inevitably do, it's not hard to be reminded of a '90s Blondie at their disco nadir. It is truly hard to sound original when such a tired musical vehicle is used as a foundation. But who knows? There might be a whole new generation that thinks this is original. As for me, I say, "Live by the drum machine, die by the drum machine."   --Scot Tempesta


July 29, 1996

Republica "Republica" (Deconstruction/RCA):

These English club scenesters were fed up with faceless dance music and decided to inject some genuine melody and lyrics into their mix. The result, something they call "Techno-pop punk rock", is a high-energy blast of precision-sequenced noise, guitar crunch and soaring vocals. Singer Saffron's silky voice and in-your-face delivery easily matches the band's grinding techno underpinnings, and the combination is downright inspiring. First cut "Ready To Go" will rule the world. An undeniable triumph of the new boogie. Get it on. (Jon O'Hara)



SONG: "Ready To Go" 
LABEL: DeConstruction/RCA (66899) 
MEMBERS: Saffron (vocals); Tim Dorney (keys); Andy Todd (keys); Johnny 
Male (guitar); Dave Barborossa (drums) 
ORIGIN: London 
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Republica has gained enough notoriety in the London clubs and through their affiliation with indie label DeConstruction to have garnered the new band plenty of early airplay at Alternative Radio. 
Frontlady Saffron was born in Nigeria, and drummer Barborossa was in both Bow Wow Wow and Adam & The Ants. If female-led, energetic music with a hint of industrial tendencies is your bag, get into "Ready To Go". And keep in 
mind, this one should break big at Alternative Radio. 
SOUNDS LIKE: A fast-paced techno-song with vocals that conjure up images of PJ Harvey. In its blending of rock and dance, "Ready To Go" is reminiscent of Moby's critically acclaimed Everything Is Wrong album of last year. Only, the rock and pop elements are strong enough to make this accessible. 
CONTACT NAME AND NUMBER: Dave Loncao 212.930.4791


*** REPUBLICA (DeConstruction/RCA). 
Within their chosen confines of fast-paced Eurodance and rhytmic synth-pop, the British fivesome Republica create an unselfconcious glee all too scarce in today's hit music. Even their dislikes - "Out Of The Darkness" talks about the work-day's demands on one's time. "Picture Me" makes fun of cover girls - move fast, unhindered, in a so-what, comic vein. So you can imagine how buyoant the melodies of party-time blastoffs like "Wrapp", Ready To Go", 
and "Drop Dead Gorgeous" must sound. They draw their noise riffs from the same 15-year-old Tantra songs that still 
inspire today's Eurodance, but maybe thanks to the utterly clueless, happy pout achieved by their female lead voice, they never sound boringly profound or archaically maudlin. Which means that though they won't mean much to Enigma fans or searchers after the next Crytal Waters, they'll rescue anyone who can't wait for Blondie to come back or for Boy George to stop acting the pompous fool. - Michael Freedberg

REPUBLICA - Republica (CD, RCA, Dance/pop) 

Think all dance music has to be same and redundant? If so, then Republica may just prove you wrong. 
This British group combines infectious dance rhythms with some absolutely killer tunes, creating a very 
consistent CD indeed. Fronted by Saffron, a lady too beautiful and talented for words, this group is 
going to be BIG. If you've become jaded and bored by the idea of dance music because it usually means 
programmed electronic crap, give this band a listen. Too many superb tunes to list, but my top picks are 
"Ready To Go," "Bloke," and "Don't You Ever." Music to move you both mentally and physically. 
(Rating: 4 of 6)

Republica - -  RCA 

With the release of their self-titled album in the States, I find that Republica is a capable combo with a reach that 
sometimes exceeds its grasp. "Ready to Go" is a fine single, full of jangly guitars, compu-beats and amped vocals. This cut 
has already captured radio programmers and a slot on Mtv. The problem is, this isn't the real Republica - it's a remix. 
For the most part, the album chooses production value over substance. The problem isn't what Republica is - rather 
what¹s missing. The frightened, claustrophobic soundscapes of Curve are hinted at on "Bitch" but the song never takes off. 
Any reference to the inspired quirkiness of St. Etienne is in the sugar-pop keyboards of "Don't You Ever." "Wrapp" comes 
off like second rate Bjork. 
Republica deserves to do better than this. There are some bright spots in the should-be-singles "Drop Dead Gorgeous" 
and "Holly" but over all they fail to choose sides. 

- Mike Russo

Republica Bloke Deconstruction/US/2X12

Mick Cole at Deconstruction USA has got a real doosey on his hands with this new release from Republica. "Bloke" the A-side has great intro chords, smooth vocals and ultra-friendly breaks and builds, making it a very appealing record for just about any house-oriented DJ. On the floor, the track is a real motivator bringing the energy on hard and giving people the prime chance only once in a while to wipe themselves off. 
Personal fave mixes include Blakkat's "Instrumental Mix" and Republica's own "Original Mix." Both will work well for either West Coast melodies, East coast vocals, or Chicago-style hard house. SON