Damone was a female-fronted American pop/rock, metal band from Waltham, MA (near Boston), formed in 2001. The band consisted of Noelle LeBlanc (vocals/guitar), Mike Woods (guitar), Vazquez (bass) and Dustin Hengst (drums). But, the band was originally formed by LeBlanc, then a teenager, and Dave Pino as a side project of Pino’s excellent power pop band Waltham. Pino left Damone after their first official release, “From the Attic,” under that name. They were previously called Noelle. The band’s new name was taken from the character Mike Damone (Robert Romanus) in the awesome film Fast Times at Ridgement High (1982), which was written by Cameron Crowe, who was once married to rock chick Nancy Wilson of Heart. Anyway, Damone broke up in 2008. Noelle went on to form The Organ Beats. Drummer Dustin Hengst died in 2011.
“From the Attic,” released in 2003, exploded with hooky power pop mixed with a bit of Ramones-y punk, thanks to Dave Pino who wrote all the songs. On this album, Damone was, in effect, Waltham with a female singer. The only thing missing, for obvious reasons, was girls’ names in the song titles. However, the awesome opening track, “Frustrated Unnoticed,” begins with the lines, “I’m rockin’ a BMX bike / I’m rockin a muscle-head car,” so the lyrics are still dude-centric. Pino even takes lead vocals on “At the Mall.” Now, it’s hard to pick favorites on this release, other than the first track, because all the songs are good, like really good, and instantly addictive. Just pick any track, listen, and it will stick in your head for days. In 2005, Damone appeared on the compilation, “Substitution Mass Confusion: A Tribute to The Cars,” with their super cool cover of “Just What I Needed.” Is Damone covering The Cars surprising? No. The Cars were from Boston, MA, but, despite the proximity, Damone‘s “From The Attic” is still very much influenced by those new wave icons, as is Pino’s other band, Waltham. Watch the video for “Frustrated Unnoticed” here:
On Damone‘s second release, “Out Here All Night” (2006), the first without Pino, the band kicked out some harder rocking riffs and a whole lot of fun. The songs, this time were written by Pino’s replacement, Mike Woods, and the band sounded like Pat Benatar fronting Guns N’ Roses. If you doubt that comparison, listen to the scorching first track, “Now Is The Time.” Or the fierce title track, which was used in several video games (including Madden NFL 07 and Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam) and as one of the themes for the 2006 WWE Diva Search. But, if you prefer Pat Benatar fronting David Lee Roth-era Van Halen mixed with Poison, then play “Outta My Way,” complete with Roth-like banter. Or try “Get Up And Go” if Bon Jovi is what you want. In “What We Came Here For,” Noelle trades lines with a badass riff, almost like a duet with a guitar. Then, in the chorus, she proclaims, “I’m not someone you ignore!”. She’s not. But my favorite tracks are “You’re The One” and “Stabbed In The Heart.” The former is a scorching pop/rocker that should have burned up the charts, while the latter is a wistful power balled in which lovelorn Noelle overhears her guy telling a friend that he went home with another girl: “Well, I must not be too smart / If I can’t fix what I let fall apart / But standing there listening was like being stabbed in the heart.” Another ballad, “When You Live,” is more uplifting offering this good advice: “When you live, live with your soul / Not with your time / When you love, love with your heart / Not with your mind.” Elsewhere, “On your Speakers” and “Tonight” are more hooky power poppers, while “Wasted Years” is a cool Iron Maiden cover. Now, I’m not a big fan of Iron Maiden, but I do love The Iron Maidens, an all-female Iron Maiden tribute band. Damone also covered, awesomely, Billy Squier‘s “Everybody Wants You” which was used in a promo spot for The CW network. Watch some videos from these releases here:
“Roll The Dice” (2009) offered more worship at the altars of GNR, Van Halen and Bon Jovi, but with just a little bit less fun. The previous album was still rooted in their debut’s frenetic power pop, but this one, not as much. The songs rocked harder, sure, but they weren’t as instantly memorable. The title track opens the disc nicely, and the power ballad “When It Ends” closes the album even stronger. But, in between, the tracks are hit or miss. The Van Halen-esque “Talk of the Town” and “Don’t Miss It” are not sung by Noelle, so forget those. “Better Than Let You On,” with its Cars-y synth, is like a B-side from the previous release, and “Dressed Up Like A Millionaire” is a rocker similar to “What We Came Here For,” without the duet thing. “Obvious Things” is a catchy pop/rocker, and “The Most of It,” a pretty good ballad. “Conquer Me,” a pure pop song, is driven by a bassline and beat similar to Pat Benatar‘s “Love Is A Battlefield,” for those who doubt that influence. But, the best track is Damone’s cover of GNR’s “You Could Be Mine.” This is one of the best GNR covers by a female-fronted band ever. You know what? This album is pretty fun! But, no videos, so …
Watch The CW “Everybody Wants You” promo instead here:
Website: Damone Official Myspace