RUN RUN RUN “On three, everybody gaze at your shoes. One… two… three.”
by Andrew Miller

Run Run Run

Fri May 7

Dante's

1 SW 3rd

All things equal, which would you rather see: a really good Ride cover band or a group that sounds like a really good Ride cover band but actually writes its own songs using the formula of that much-loved '90s shoegazer flagship band? It's a tough call, but in the shoegazer realm, note-for-note mimicry is rare. That's why unofficial "influenced-by" cover groups like Run Run Run are so appealing.

Run Run Run creates a heavy haze with its rhythm section before its sweltering-sunbeam hooks cut swaths through the fog. On the title track to its EP Drizzle, both singer Xander Smith and the bassline sound heavily drugged, until an alarm-clock guitar tone initiates a rude awakening. The group's riffs ring loudest immediately after the hooks, like celebratory gunfire. In many ways, Drizzle is a a stellar release, catchy but never cloying, subtle without lapsing into sleep-inducing spells. The song "2 a.m.," a dizzy, slow-paced stumble, provides a soundtrack for staggering home at the titular time and lying on the floor, watching ceiling cracks display amazing elasticity through alcohol-addled eyes.

Yet in other ways, this album feels somewhat superfluous, like an afterthought time-capsule stowaway. Drizzle sounds about how you would expect from a group that opened for the Psychedelic Furs, appears on The Osbournes: The First Season DVD, and features a singer named Xander. Retro-tethered and superficial, Run Run Run embraces a coldly calculated dreamscapes-and-dissonance dynamic balance. Its ambient and abrasive elements don't clash like riveting rivals; instead, the noise bursts feel like the most sloppily applied cosmetic touch since Robert Smith's lipstick.

Run Run Run features Phil Cunningham, former guitarist for New Order, a band not exactly known for its rockin' ax showcases. And it employs a French horn player, which at least differentiates it from the dozens of other acts who have taken the My Bloody Valentine template out for a spin. It formed in 2001 but waited three years to produce a five-song EP, which suggests either obsession with compositional craftwork or profound procrastination.

Xander Smith previously fronted Other Star People, another backward-thinking outfit, albeit one more interested in upbeat Cars-style synthesized fluff than moody meanderings. A Los Angeles native, he sings in a British accent on Drizzle, an affectation that reinforces the record's artificial flavor.

RX3, in the group's own website shorthand, puts on a glamorous show. Strobe lights pulse, guitars wind themselves into knots that snap with tension, and Daniel Dod's drums detonate during each anthemic outburst. To quote U2 (with whom several members of the band are apparently obsessed based on their interviews), seeing Run Run Run can be even better than the real thing. Many shoegazer bands sucked live; hence the genre's name. With Run Run Run, fans get an energetic act in its prime, so full of action that its name is a verb in triplicate.

In interviews, Smith has said that Run Run Run's name recalls "the feeling you get as a kid, running across a field for no reason... you lose that feeling of innocence when you grow up."

Similarly, listening to Run Run Run conjures images of early experiences with groups such as Ride and My Bloody Valentine. But those days, and those bands, are gone, and lovelorn listeners can either nurture nostalgia by spinning those same discs into oblivion or look for existing acts that can fill the shoegazer void for a night with a competent concert. To pilfer a phrase from the song for which it was christened, Run Run Run is good enough to get yourself to heaven.