Spotlight \

Test Your Reflex

Who? Despite immediate industry interest in their raw rock ability, Californians Ryan Levine (lead vocal/guitar/ keyboards), Sal Cortez (drums/backing vocals), Agustin Sanchez (bass/backing vocals), R.C. (lead guitar), and Andrew Ampaya (piano/keyboard/ vocals), all between the ages of 19 and 21, took the decidedly anti-Traci Lords approach and waited until Cortez, then 17, was actually old enough to sign on the dotted line. Their debut, The Burning Hour, is due out this year on RCA Records.

What’s the Deal? The liquor laws of many music venues forced Test Your Reflex to hone their skills on underage stages, but their emotional embellishes and post-punk punch sound stadium-grown. Citing influences from expressive rockers (U2, Peter Gabriel) to experts in electronic oddity (Eno, Bowie), the end result plays a bit like a cured Cure, a Joy Division whose joy remains intact. The synth-saturated “Black Hearts” starts like Robert Smith but the eyeliner is wiped off by the time everyone comes in for the raucous chorus. Lead single “Pieces of the Sun” aches like an earnest Interpol, until the clouds part, and “pieces of sun” stream through in the form of an epic hook and lighter-than-helium background harmonizing.

Fun Fact If guitarist RC ever decides that rock music is “for the birds,” he can always get a job hanging out with them: Before joining Test Your Reflex, he performed as an amateur falconer at the Los Angeles Zoo and still makes guest appearances when the band is in town. BRIANA MOWREY

Now Hear This: Test Your Reflex – “Pieces of the Sun” DOWNLOAD MP3

Now Watch This: Test Your Reflex – “Pieces of the Sun” QUICKTIME | WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL PLAYER

Talk: Is The Burning Hour blazing bright or just empty embers? COMMENT

On the Web: Test Your Reflex at

Tags: Spotlight