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The Lucky Charms of indie rock

Utah’s Larusso pops in for a Monday show at the Viaduct

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There was a time in my musical life when a band like Larusso would have been right down my alley. There was a time when all a band’s sound had to be was loud and catchy for me to enjoy it. These were simpler times, when the possibilities seemed endless and the pessimism didn’t run as thick.

Somewhere along the way, though, like many people, I grew jaded. In life I began focusing more on the ugliness and hopelessness that surrounds everything we do, and with music I started to allow myself to enjoy fewer and fewer things. The cookie cutter pop rock and corporate radio of the late ’90s made me distrust anything that sounded even remotely designed for commercial success, and bands that were having fun disappeared from my collection. Somewhere along the way I started to hear more music I disliked than music I liked. My taste, in general, became pickier, and my overall happiness suffered.

Sometimes, if I don’t catch myself in time, a band like Larusso still makes me smile.

Sometimes I still pump a CD like Larusso’s The Sweetest Place in my car, but I’m careful to turn it down at stoplights. I wouldn’t want someone to think a 14-year-old girl was behind the wheel, or worse yet someone with the musical taste of one.

Larusso, who vary in age from 19 to 23 years old, call Utah home. Perhaps in a visual representation of their sugar sweet sound, every picture I’ve seen of Larusso depicts the five members hugging. It’s not a gay hug, like homosexual; it’s more of gay hug, as in too happy for their own good.

Larusso’s sound is pleasing. There’s no denying it. I’m not an expert on such things, but I believe that’s what they were probably going for. The guitar licks are nothing new, but there’s nothing new about rock and roll and being young. Larusso is pop punk, by definition, meaning it’s no surprise they sound a lot like MxPx, Blink 182, Eve 6, Sum 41, Boxcar Racer, and even that band that did “Little Black Backpack.” Larusso plays power chords and drum beats that are time tested, adding their young, smiling, Utah-based touch and exuberance — creating power pop that’s not earth shattering, but also ain’t half bad.

“There’s a pretty good pop rock scene in Utah. We fit in pretty well. At our hometown shows we do really well,” explains Larusso’s guitarist and singer Aaron Condrat by phone from a tour stop in Southern California.

“I think there’s a really underrated scene (in Utah). We love having touring bands in and showing them what Utah is all about.”

In October of ’07 Larusso released The Sweetest Thing, a five song EP produced by Jeff Schneeweis, whose name you may recognize from Number One Gun. With two lower-fi records already under their belt, The Sweetest Thing is by far the greatest display of Larusso’s potential to date. The songs, a few of which are available at, are tight and crunchy, popping into your ears and infectiously gnawing at your brain. If that sounds like a troubling ad for a sugar coated breakfast cereal, it’s probably because Larusso is the Lucky Charms of indie rock.

But then again, who doesn’t like Lucky Charms?

“We write the songs collaboratively. It has to be that way. Every member likes to have their little touch,” says Condrat.

“On tour we have a van and trailer. We’ve ended up sleeping in the van the last couple nights. It’s not exactly glamorous, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Our shows so far have gone pretty well,” says Condrat of Larusso’s current tour in support of The Sweetest Thing. The tour will span two weeks and six states.

“Most of the shows have been good, but it kind of depends on the situation. We’ve had to go out to the malls and social places a few times to promote ourselves too.

“We’re really excited to come up there and play Tacoma.”

Larusso is not Radiohead — not even close. Larusso isn’t Menomena either, or any of those indie sheik bands pushing and expanding the boundaries of rock music. Nope, Larusso is just a pop punk band from Utah, made up of five young men who seem to still be having fun in this world. While my music critic mindset won’t allow me to enjoy Larusso, maybe that’s a problem with me and not the band. If you’re not already cold and cynical, too grown up for your own good, perhaps you should give Larusso a chance.

[The Viaduct, Rough Chukar, Larusso, Goodnight Sunrise, Ramona Come Closer, Monday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., all ages, $5, 5412 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma,]

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