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Cassette Review: Rio Turbo - "KISS FM"
Milwaukee party-pop outfit succeeds in dancy 10-song tape

Since 2009, Milwaukee’s premier party-pop purveyor Rio Turbo has been “strangely moving bodies” and making people sweat in dingy rock clubs, uppity Downtown bars and clothing-optional basement parties. While Rio Turbo mastermind Joseph Peterson, his dancers –“The Turbettes” – and producer Nike Mane approach the wholly unique endeavor, its vision and frequent local shows with heart and direction, the house party hymns have traditionally only been released as singles. Tuesday, Rio Turbo will slap a bold question mark to the end times of many-a Milwaukee hootenanny with the release of the KISS FM cassette, its longest and most focused effort to date.

“Beach Boss” and “Still Style” in all their lo-fi, Casio keyboard effect glory kicks KISS FM into gear as Peterson’s chant-like cadence is covered in drum beats, synthesizers and various other bells and chimes. It’s not really until fourth song, “Party Trash” – which was previously released as a single – that a tone is set. That tone is one contingent on fun in addition to genre- and generation-crossing references to dancing, partying, drugs and the like. The “Party Trash” theme is reinforced in “Cocaine Queen” (a subtle nod to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”) and highlights “My Baby Crazy” and “Brown Eyed World.”

By the time trance-dance song “Turbo Girl” and “Flip Around” (a reverb clap-laden finale that clocks in at an unheard-of 4:24) are done, listeners can’t help but want more. If a complaint can be registered with KISS FM, it can be addressed to the tape’s length. At just 23.5 minutes, the party is over almost as quickly as it begins. Still, the joyride was fun and memorable – however brief it was.

Rio Turbo will play its release show at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn on Tuesday, March 26 in support of Cave (Chicago) and Big Fun 4 Ever (Milwaukee). The show begins at 9 p.m. and costs $5. KISS FM can be digitally downloaded for $5 at RioTurbo’s Bandcamp page. KISS FM cassettes can be purchased at the show.

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