Album Review: Hot Cha Cha – The Hardest Working Telescope and the Violent Birth of Stars

Jovana Batkovic has quite the collection of leotards. Just look at the one she’s wearing on her band’s latest album cover. In your face femininity, if I do say so. Quite the look, but not one to be overshadowed by the rest of the band. Damn, they’re hot, and the music isn’t half bad either. The girls of Hot Cha Cha have a sound bigger than they initially realized, and on their full-length debut, the aptly titled The Hardest Working Telescope and the Violent Birth of Stars, the Ohio foursome are setting the stage for some huge possibilities.

Their debut EP last year was a small shot. It was the bare bones of a band trying to decipher the direction they’ve now taken, and was in no way what they’re apparently capable of. Instead of lo-fi everyday post punk, they’ve blown up with spacey garage rocktronics that go above and beyond anyone’s expectations.  Violent Birth of Stars is the band’s saving grace, a moment in music that’s not easily shoved aside as the girls throw all they’ve got onto the record.

From the opener “One Thousand Pillows Soft”, the vulnerability is glaring. Reverberated guitars and walls of percussion break the fuzzy bass lines that string the record together. The grit and sass are only a cover-up for the truth of bare emotions that come out, the tracks pulling the stitches out of still-fresh wounds. As we’ve all learned over the years, it’s that kind of openness that makes for some powerful stuff.

Powerhouses like the rock/dance hall approved “Ticket Away From Prague” carry the right blend of electronics to basics, careful not to flush out the rest of the band for synth-driven hooks as is so easy to do. It’s the kind of 80’s influence that hasn’t been hit as much, getting more the gritty Athens, GA side of underground 80’s rock than the overused English electro pop.

Song title of the year goes to “Hookers deserve a Lifetime Achievement Award”. It’s a heartbreaker, as it shows off the band’s atmospheric skills, turning the track into one of the best of their short career. Notes ring out as they build up for a post-rock blast off you definitely didn’t see coming. “Aint Easy Being Sleazy” carries that same aesthetic, but with bigger guitars driving the down and out.

While the tracks carry a consistency, there is nothing that feels like filler. Their sound seems to have been found pretty quickly, or has it? “Organ Grinders Ball” and “Bob has a Better Cow” feel like an exercise in formula, as they work out the kinks to just what their sound is. “French Fried” is guitar heavy with on-point sonics all wrapped around a mind-numbing and driving video game synth line. Combined with Batkovic’s adorably raw voice, you get quite the powerful pop song.

With their catchy quips and tri-lingual sex appeal, the girls cut with punk rock edge and new wave emotions. They really went for it on their debut, and in the best way possible; there is still much left to the imagination. It’s the kind of record that leads to repeat listens and then begs for a follow-up. The girls of Hot Cha Cha have an undeniable power that I hope never stops.

Check Out:
“Ticket Away From Prague”

The Hardest Working Telescope and the Violent Birth of Stars


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