THE MUSIC of young Britain today sounds a lot like punk-rock, but it sure doesn't feel like punk-rock. From the sublime (the Smiths) to the ridiculous (Half Man, Half Biscuit), the newer English bands are largely a genial, mild-mannered bunch.
The Mighty Lemon Drops, for example, write melodies that sound like variations on the Teardrop Explodes songbook, but they don't have that band's intensity. The quartet's debut, "Happy Head," has a stripped-down garage-punk sound, but none of the tension or anger that style is frequently used to express. Those who can forgive the Drops' debt to ex-Teardrop tunesmith Julian Cope, though, will find such songs as "My Biggest Thrill," "Like an Angel" and "Hypnotised" to be unusually winning pop-rock.
Martin Stephenson and the Daintees, meanwhile, play just about anything but hard-edged rock. On their "Boat to Bolivia," Stephenson and his associates attempt folk, country, ska and even a jazzy ballad. The young singer/songwriter, who can unblinkingly note that one of his songs conveys "a brother's sadness toward the termination of his sister's lesbian love affair," sometimes gets in over his head, but on songs like the buoyant "Look Down, Look Down" his earnestness works in his favor.
THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS -- "Happy Head" (Sire 25532-1).
MARTIN STEPHENSON AND THE DAINTEES -- "Boat to Bolivia" (Kitchenware KWLP5).
Both appearing Saturday at the 9:30 Club.