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Monday, Oct. 20, 2008

The Rip Off Artists

Esque (Ripped Off Music

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Like the free-flowing stream of consciousness one finds scribbled in a diary, Milwaukee's The Rip Off Artists emote their lightly jaded point of view with a sense of understated wakefulness on their recent CD, Esque. All songs are written and produced by Nick Pipitone and Peter Batchelder, who engineered and mixed the tracks at Milwaukee's Independent Studios. Taking a cue from Batchelder's background in film, their quirky, grown-up, retro British vibe is refreshing-at times sarcastic, even humorous-and sharp-witted in an unassuming way.

Mainstream contemporary pop fans may be puzzled by the opening track, "Intro/Normal People," but indie-pop devotees will be all ears. These are genuinely cool tunes spliced with unpredictable interludes and European sensibilities. Loosely wound rhythms and harmonies tweak the imagination in "The Present Tense" and "The Girl Behind the Bar." The duo pulls off in the studio what most bands hope to capture live: a note of spontaneity and shared experience of the moment.

Ironically, lead vocalist Batchelder, who has collaborated on a number of CDs, may not be gigging soon, stating that he can't wait to get on to the next studio project. Regardless, The Rip Off Artists possess the musicianship and vocal chops to steal the show. Listeners should be satisfied by this clever twist on a boy-loses-girl musical romp from the burlesque minds of a couple of unpretentious fellows.