When membership from other bands come together for a side project, the two main reasons are to collectively explore a new direction of their musical experience and, more or less, have a unified opportunity to rock out with your friends. The reasoning behind NYC quintet Cheena forming is firmly is firmly established with both ideals. Their pedigree includes garage/punk outfits Anasazi, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, and Crazy Spirit as well as the association of Margaret Chardiet from the confrontational noise project Pharmakon. The rocking out piece is pleasingly obvious from the first badass riff that opens up their debut LP. Spend The Night With… is a legitimate effort in time travelling rock and roll, taking a junket back to when punk was still in its incubation stage and shared common space with proto-metal and glam at their pinnacle swagger.
“Fever” ably channels The Stooges in under two minutes, strutting with gnarled power chords and a dirt bomb thump. Cheena often finds itself a circular loop reminding of early Sonic Youth on tracks like “Car”, careening headfirst into a chorus fueled by alcohol and frustration. That necessary camaraderie for a new band is at its truest on Spend The Night With… when some late night adrenaline and low-grade speed kicks in, setting the tempo on a breakneck sprint. The rhythm starts innocently on “Tarzan”, then randomly catches fire, burning with a recklessness that the New York Dolls pioneered once they first planted their no-fucks flag.
The Dolls are the most prevalent benchmark for Cheena that you can almost hear them considering the phrase “What Would Johnny Thunders Do?” in every track. The pitch bending and nothing-but-attitude beat on “Lost My Way” would barely raise our interest without that golden mantra. They still manage to dig deeper for inspiration in the noodling of “Electric Snoopy Gang”, cherrypicking some twang from the VU-catalog but never taking the dirty jean jacket out of their sound. With many contemporary rock bands trying so desperately to ape the retro sounds of Tame Impala or Jack White’s countless incarnations, the public is finally ready for a fresher and more authentic homage. Cheena couldn’t have timed their collaboration, or their sound, more perfectly for 2016.