After taking in Hot Cha Cha’s recent performance at the Rock Hall with The Joy Formidable a few things were immediately apparent. One, and this one was very obvious, Hot Cha Cha are no longer a girl band.
Mandy Aramouni has moved from guitar to bass, with new boy, Greg Gebhard now on guitar. There’s a new boy, Greg Gebhard on bass. Two, lead-vocalist Jovana Batkovic is still one of the area’s premier performers, even when she has to keep her act to a PG-13 level, as she had to do on that night. And, lastly, whether inspired by those recent lineup changes, or not, Hot Cha Cha have taken on a bigger, fuller rock sound. That difference can be heard here, on a track like this one, “Suicide Mission,” from their forthcoming, 12″ split EP with Summer People. Yes, there are still dance-punk and post-punk undercurrents, especially in the rhythm section, but Batkovic’s voice has taken on a rougher edge, making that riot-girl influence as strong as ever. And, when you start to parse the mix, you’ll notice some piercing screeches, which could be manipulated guitar tones, vocals, or both, ravaging what would have once been empty space. Regardless of the source, that sound and this song, make for an interesting progression for this Cleveland quartet.
Hot Cha Cha will be playing at the Happy Dog this coming Saturday night where you’ll be able to pick up a copy of their new 12″ split release with tourmates Summer People.