Dec. 1998-Jan. 1999 Articles:
Are Women Just a Bunch of Boobs?
Mindpower: The Colored Vote
16 Scott Case (out of print material) Pessimiser Records I really like this disc. It sounds a bit like Helmet in its groove-oriented thunder-chord approach to music. It has a very big sound, though it is not over-produced. Truly heavy music. Be sure to check the tracks Powdered Milk and Loafer. This is good stuff.
764-Hero Get Here and Stay Up Records Though you can argue this is an indie or emo release, the sparse guitar arrangements led me to classify this as early 90s college rock. The vocals twist in a high scale at times, in a way that unfortunately conjured up other bands. It's an interesting release, but not as emotive as I had expected.
A Tribe Called Quest The Love Movement Jive Records This is the last hurrah from one of hip-hop's true innovators. And, although this is a great album from ATCQ, it is no better or different than their other albums (aside from the rare and unreleased bonus tracks). Maybe that's why they called it quits. They seem to have run out of things to do with this lineup. Surely, these three MCs will not disappear from hip-hop, so watch your back.
Adam's Eve (self-titled EP) Maelstrom Music This is alternative rock with a pop/metal feel and strong melodies. The style is somewhat simple, but still catchy. Not a bad release. They sometimes remind me of a slowed-down, less experienced Big Drill Car except when they sound like '80s metal.
Aftertax Return of the Wizard Second Azoo Records It's hard to believe this is just two guys -- obviously very talented. They cover all the various instruments necessary in a pop-rock band. The music isn't going to blow you away, but it's tight, hook-filled and melodic as hell.
Aks Mamma Jolly Holidays! Kicksave Records It seems that people think that just because they own guitars and horns, that they can play in a ska band. Aks Mamma (no, it's not misspelled) plays some pretty weak-ass ska-punk. You're better off spending your money on something else.
Assorted Jellybeans What's Really Going On!?! Kung Fu Records This is a hit or miss CD filled with ska-punk tunes. Some songs work, most don't. The tempo shifts feel forced at times and some of the notes ruin the fun vibe the lyrics convey.
Ben Grim Muk Lampin' Room This is an odd one. It has all the makings of being a stellar record fusing many styles of music, but perhaps there are too many styles within certain songs, and a ton for one record. They are a more pop- influenced band than pop-punk influenced. It's a chance-taking record, and I really like the harmonizing, so give it a try if this crosses your path.
Blender Blender Mindpower Records Pretty generic power pop/punk with raggedy vocals. "Been There" could almost make it on the radio, if they had the balls to play it. Their emo influences shine through at times. Worth listening to, at least for the cool cover of "867-5309 (Jenny)."
Bluetip Join Us Dischord Records The first time I heard this, I immediately thought of the now-defunct Jawbox. As it turns out "Join Us" was produced by former Jawbox guitarist/vocalist J. Robbins (who's now in Burning Airlines). Bluetip's sound is reminiscent of Dischord-era Jawbox, but is by no means a derivative mimicry. "Join Us"? Just show me where to sign up.
Caffeine The DJ Micro Blend ESP-SUN Records It seems Caffeine is content to look back on yesterday when we have today and tomorrow to contend with. Yeah, yeah, roots my ass. The music holds up, so please turn this nostalgia off.
Chamberlain The Moon, My Saddle Doghouse America I heard these guys used to rock out. The vocals have that wavering timbre a la Pearl Jam, the difference is the music here is jangly and countrified. I like John Cougar Mellencamp. Buy "Scarecrow" and avoid this pretentious country/grunge knock off.
Co-Ed Sometimes Always Maybe Never Cool Guy Records Take the best of Tilt and Discount and you've got this great fifteen-track album. Female-fronted pop-punk has become a "cool thing," but this is more than just cool, it's damn good. The music is extremely tight and inventive and the vocals are spectacular. This is a winner, a dancing delight, well worth picking up.
Cristoph De Babalon If You're Into It, I'm Out Of It Digital Hardcore Recordings This is not what I expected from a Digital Hardcore Recording. I usually don't care much for their technological massacres, but this album caught my attention. Both an ambient CD as well as a Drum N' Bass one, "If You're Into It ..." switches tempo as much as a schizophrenic changes personalities. The ambient tracks held me down in expectation of some gigantic crash or climax (one is 15 minutes long, another 11 minutes, so you can imagine how I felt). The Drum N' Bass tracks veer away from the traditional sound by injecting large amounts of distortion. It's when De Babalon combines these ambient soundscapes with the staccato beats of Drum N' Bass that he shines as an artist. He claims to hate technology, but I think on the inside he has to have it.
Cross My Heart (self-titled) Deep Elm Records This is a very tight emo release that combines the vocal power of Jimmy Eat World and the creativity and energy of Braid and the Get Up Kids. This definitely borrows from the aforementioned bands, but there is a whole lot to like about the intensity of this album as well as the smart, artistic lyrics. Well worth taking a listen to.
Crumbox Map of the Sky Time Bomb Recordings Crumbox are a four-piece from California who play melodic pop rock. The music is super catchy and full-bodied. There are hints of such bands as Jimmy Eat World, Crumb (not to be confused), J Church and even Samiam's less punk stuff. The more I listen, the more I really like this twelve-track album.
Damnation A.D. Kingdom of Lost Souls Revelation Records Chugga chugga Metallica-ish Guitars start off this one. The hardcore attitude kicks in and makes this an extremely likable upon first listen. You'll find this in the hardcore section but it should be filed under metal, as well. Maybe kids will give up pits and stand still and punch air like "back in the day."
Dancing With Judy (self-titled EP) Slag Records The first track is called "Oh My God" and, oh my god, does this record bore me. Nothing against alternative rock (with classic rock overtones), but there is very little about this that makes it worth listening to. There are too many guitar solos and the vocals are trying way too hard. There is even a laughable ballad.
Das Klown Antidote Skunk Records These guys will scare the shit out of you and you'll love it. Angry and melodic all at once, Das Klown manage to keep a raw edge in spite of a disturbing trend toward the mainstream in the world of punk. This disc kicks ass.
Dead Lazlo's Place Lonely Street New Red Archives "Lonely Street" starts out like a few other punk records; full of defiance, anger and rebellion. But wait, what's that sound? Is that a keyboard? On a punk record?! I guess that's real rebellion, when you go against what you believe in. Don't worry, this is not a keyboard driven record. It only pops up a few times. It's actually pretty good.
Death Cab For Cutie Something About Airplanes Barsuk Records Hop on board with this four-piece of pop delight. The music is not traditional, featuring organ, electric piano, cello and piano on various tracks, all working superbly with the mid-tempo gems. It's the kind of music that you sway to and sing along with. The lyrics are well-written and sung even better. Throw in the killer CD insert and you've got yourself a heck of a record.
Deicide When Satan Lives Roadrunner Records Oddly, this live disc was apparently recorded at The House of Blues in Chicago. This is not blues. This is some of the fastest, fiercest anti-god rock you're ever gonna hear. Speed and precision make this disc a must in your speed-metal archives. Be sure to check track 10 -- "Deicide" [killing of a god].
Devil Dub Ben Wa Black Hole Records This is a CD of electronic dub tracks, using the term dub extremely loosely. Not anything to dance to, nor much of a groove to latch on to. As the source sounds are electronic there is no immediate point of reference to gauge the distortion. So, yes, this is disappointing in what the title inspired and could have been and isn't. Guess you readers have to make your own records now.
DJ Spooky Riddim Warfare Outpost Records DJ Spooky continues to assault listeners with "Riddim Warfare." At the forefront of the "illbient" scene, he fuses ambient atmospheres with rapid fire jungle beats, dub, live instruments, sampled arcade game noises, and a host of other sounds that will either make you get up and dance or make you sit down in amazement. Special guests abound, from Thurston Moore's guitar playing on "Dialectical Transformation II (Soylent Green)," to Kool Keith's raps on "Seein' Objects" as well as the title track. Just when you're engrossed in a track, DJ Spooky will stop everything and actually explain to some unidentified third party just what it is he is trying to accomplish. So pay attention, you might learn something.
Don Caballero Singles Breaking Up (Vol. 1) Touch & Go Records This latest release from Don Caballero documents their singles history from 1992 to 1997, plus one unreleased track. I can't even begin to tell you how much this kicks ass. Not bothering with a singer, this instrumental band can concentrate better on the music, combining crushing guitar riffs with equally devastating drumming to create a wall of sound that will astound you. Run and get this one right now!
Drumhead (self-titled) Perishable Someone's been listening to some funky jazz, some Dead too ... Drumhead, a loose collective of drummers (from groups such as Red Red Meat, June of 44 and HIM) seeking to raise the percussive honeydew which glues the rock band together, have created an album's worth of rhythmic pleasantries. Coming off at first like an avant experiment by a bunch of white boys (and girls) who sat through too many presentations by "primitive" authenticators, Drumhead emerges, after the dramatic loops of sound subside, as a conceptual drumming circle. Sort of like a bunch of deadheads with university degrees in music, reaching beyond the folds of convention for enlightenment. Enjoy the ride friends.
E-40 The Element of Surprise Jive Records This is a double-CD release which is good and bad. It's good that you get so many tracks, but with any double set, you're gonna get some crappy tracks too. The beats on here are mostly smoothed out with a West Coast style. There is also a big old school flavor on several cuts. E-40 is a big boy with a vocal style that can be dope and other times whack as hell -- but if you don't like his vocals, he is joined by several guests on different tracks: B-Legit, Mack 10, Busta Rhymes, Too Short, Master P and more. The worst things about this album are that all he rhymes about is bein' a hip-hop gansta (cash and crime and chronic) and that some of the songs are incredibly unremarkable.
Electric Frankenstein How I Rose From The Dead Onefoot Records A live disc from Electric Frankenstein that really gives you a taste of what this band is capable of. Tight melodies and tireless energy combine with a really well recorded live performance make this a disc that you will want in your collection.
Everready Festavus for the Restavus Cool Guy Records The world of punk rock is filled with bands that all sound the same. Lucky for us, there's Everready, setting their own power-punk course. Their music is tight, intricate and full of melody. The vocals are emotionally charged and compliments, perfectly, the energy of each track. The lyrics are smart, while sometimes silly. If you're looking for a solid record that will excite you, make you bounce around and scream along at the top of your lungs ...
Ex-Fork What's Next, Tomorrow? Cool Guy Records Ex-Fork unleash a pounding hardcore wall of sound with bleeding throat vocals. Very hard, very good in short doses. The lyrics are about anger and alienation. Heck, you'd feel that way too if you were from Cali!
Fever Too Bad But True Digital Hardcore It's described as "deconstructing hip-hop" and in many ways that's accurate. Fever are two guys from Europe who take hard beats and scratching and turn it into a noise-fest. There are vocals, sometimes rapped, and the melodies are buried within all of the tracks. The edge to the music is industrial, but not simple or lacking originality. It's a solid album to get angry inside to.
Feverdream Songs by Strung Out Singles Satellite Records Feverdream's second U.S. release, "Songs by Strung Out Singles," is an excellent blend of post-punk and drug-induced atmospheric rock. It's reminiscent of British bands like Swervedriver and the Catherine Wheel. On "Home at the End of the Day," Feverdream sounds more like Morrissey than the Moz does nowadays. (And I mean that in a good way.)
Fifteen Extra Medium Kick Ball All-Star (17) Cool Guy Records This is a reissue of what was Fifteen's last album (till they recently got back together). It was very limited and now it's available once again. Fifteen is a punk band from the East Bay with a long history. Frontman Jeff Ott first started in Crimpshrine and has always been a poignant song writer, using music as a forum for socio/political issues. The vocals are his signature throaty, yet sung style and the music is uptempo, melodic and constantly changing within each song -- catchy as hell! This is a great album, maybe their best. Also included on this record are awesome bonus tracks from One Man Running (6 songs, catchy, uptempo pop-punk), Bisybackson (3 songs, dark, creative, punk rock) and Polk High #33 (3 songs, quirky, melodic punk rock with an aggressive side).
Fireside Uomini D'Onore Crank!/Startracks Recordings Get this. Fireside won a Grammy. Strange, eh? Well, they deserve it! They won the Swedish Grammy for best hard rock act back in 1995. The music is creative, always changing and has an edge that is all its own. Their sound is a mix of emotionally driven melodies and hard-edged tempo changes that features incredible smooth and heartfelt lead vocals. They are not just an emo band.
Forstella Ford Relics of an Unseen Life First Time Records Put another record in the emo jukebox, baby. This three piece delivers the power of a four-piece and a sound akin to the Get Up Kids. It's tight, powerful and nine tracks worth of rockin' emotion live and direct from Wisconsin.
French 2 Bear Records This four-piece from NYC offers up tight, melodic pop with a great edge to it. The hooks aren't necessarily the most inventive, but coupled with the quality, tight instrumentation and excellent vocals (male and female), it's clear not many pop bands do it this well. Give it a couple songs and you'll be addicted to the quirky coolness of this six-song EP.
Hoover's G-String Gargle Red Tide Records This is pretty decent music. There really isn't anything stellar about it, but it certainly doesn't suck. It's melodic and rockin' and it certainly will not hurt you to own it.
Immortal Dominion Endure Maelstrom Music Hey there, swing kids and ska-punks! Metal is on it's way back. Grunge and the other nineties' musical fads have run their course; now as the millenium approaches, it's time for metal to take its rightful place at the top of the musical food chain. Immortal Dominion will lead the way; join us, or be destroyed.
It Could Be Nothing ... just a ride Opulence! If any of you remember Spacehog, then you know exactly what this singer sounds like. That and Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains thrown in there too. The music seems influenced by Sonic Youth and emo music, with tempo changes aplenty. Stand out tracks are "The Eggish Fortune" and "Fanbelt."
Jack Off Jill Covetous Creature Risk Records This CD contains seven tracks (plus two hidden ones) of remixes of previous Jack Off Jill songs. There are two versions of "My Cat" and two versions of "Poor Impulse Control." "Girlscout" has Susan Wallace of Switchblade Symphony as a guest. Some of these tracks sound a bit like techno, but not enough to draw you away.
Jawbox My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents DeSoto Records No, they aren't back together. One of the greatest bands of all time is simply thanking their fans in CD format. This album is a compilation of music of days past. Of the 22 tracks, most of them are things you probably haven't heard -- at least not this recording. Five tracks from their Peel Sessions, six unreleased/studio tracks, four live tracks (from 6/96, RFK Stadium) and seven cover tunes that have appeared in various places. Any fan of Jawbox's patented creative, energized rock should cry like a baby until they get this album.
Jeff Ott/Amanda Epithysial Union Cool Guy Records Stop, it's acoustic. Yeah, it's Crimpshrine/Fifteen's Ott, but this ain't punk-styled music, except in heart. Jeff Ott has always been an activist and that hasn't changed. He deals with intense and urgent issues like rape, needle exchange, and war. His vocals are incredibly sincere -- as sincere as the words he sings. Amanda counters Jeff's socio/political songs with more personal lyrics often dealing with relationships, being a woman and some of the social implications. Her voice is sweet, yet strong and striking. All the tracks have awesome guitar work. This is an album worth reading equally as much as worth listening to. Punk is an ideology, not a kind of music -- this is as punk as it gets.
Jim Greer Rover Songs Fortune Records No, this isn't the same Jim Greer who used to write for Spin and played bass for Guided by Voices. This is the Jim Greer who's been in Dr. Octagon and Tipsy. On "Rover Songs," Greer's wearing his singer-songwriter hat. The songs have a Brian Wilson-ish, offbeat pop feel. Relax and enjoy.
Jimmy Eat World (self-titled EP) Fueled By Ramen Words can't describe the power, enthusiasm and talent of this band. This five-song EP is a teaser for their upcoming major label release on Capitol. Hopefully my words can do some justice and tell you why you must experience this band. The vocals are inspiring, emotional, like waves of energy flowing through your speakers. The music is a constant driving force that can be beautiful and soothing on one note and fierce on the next. Lyrically, Jim Adkins (lead vocals, guitar, genius) is a poet. This is better than most full-length records.
Karate The Bed Is in the Ocean Southern Records "So quiet, I can hear that the refrigerator's on," begins that new Karate record. This image well suits the restrained energy of Karate's sound. Blatant and understated, mellow yet punk, simple and poetic. If you're looking for something unique while somehow refreshingly recognizable, pick up this record. "Who called? What the hell did they say?" It rocks like a jazz track; instrumental voices in open spaces. Check it out.
Kid Dynamite (self-titled) Jade Tree Records Take two parts of Lifetime and add two new parts and you've got the perfect blend of melodic punk rock and old-school hardcore (a la Gorilla Biscuits, Dag Nasty). The hooks are so damn catchy you'll be rocking back and forth to the music and not even realize it. The energy is contagious. This is one to speed to while driving.
Knowledge A Gift Before I Go Asian Man Records Hmm ... The singer's tattoos are better than his voice, except when he's screaming. Hardcore, pop punk, ska -- the jack of all styles on this disc. Save your money and time, kids.
Lagwagon Let's Talk About Feelings Fat Wreck Chords Okay, let's talk about feelings. This album cover is enough to kill any man's sex drive for a long period of time. For Christsakes, don't look directly at it, son! Instead, carefully open the jewel box, grab the CD, and listen to some kick-ass punk rock from the sensitive young lads of Lagwagon.
Latex Generation Boysrock Onefoot Track Seven: "Come Along, Sorryass, We're Going Places"seems to sum up the whole Latex Generation ideal. These guys are going to find themselves on the forefront of the punk scene if they keep putting out great stuff like this.
Lida Husik Faith in Space Alias Records Imagine Madonna and Luscious Jackson melding together through some freak genetic accident, and then recording a CD. This would be very close to what it would sound like. A bit fast for trip hop, but very close, Lida Husik fills the air with electronic soundscapes and repeating samples, while singing in a tone of voice that sounds soothing, yet almost resigned to a life of sadness.
Longfellow And so on ... Kung-Fu Records Here's another California-based punk band. Oh joy. Wait, this isn't too bad. The stylings remind me of Gameface, although the tempo is quicker. The changes are constant and interesting. The vocals are solid and pretty damn good. There is a lot more emotion in this music than you may expect. If you like melodic, power punk this is a release you'll really dig.
Meshuggah Chaosphere Nuclear Blast America "Chaosphere" would be enjoyed by any Pantera fan. Super heavy >
Transfer interrupted!he listener until he is left on the floor, writhing in pain. This CD is not for the weak.
Metro LA Space Park Drive ESP-SUN Records This CD contains breakbeat tracks dating back to '93 and coming up to present day with the opener track "Go with the Flow." The mix is thick, with many textures and rhythms weaving through the house mix. Recommended.
Mollycuddle It's Not You, It's Me Guilt Ridden Pop "It's not you, it's me," you say. Yeah, right, you lying heartless bitch. Oh, the record ... despite the title, this is some good guitar-driven pop with alternating boy-girl vocals. I said I wasn't going to break down like this again in public. Where's my hanky?
Mono Puff It's Fun to Steal Bar/None Records This is produced/peformed by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants fame. It has a number of fun moments but it's not anything I can listen to for any length of time. Seems to be more for folks into fun lyrics and irreverent 70's white boy funk instrumentation.
Moral Crux Something More Dangerous Panic Button Okay, okay, I'm a loser, I've never heard of Moral Crux before. I must have been living in a hole. These guys are to punk rock what Green Day is to a turd. They rock fast and tight. This is super cool, melodic punk that will get your juices flowing right out of your pants. You want this disc. You need this disc.
Noam Chomsky Class War: The Attack on Working People Epitaph Records This is a nice CD to listen to if you are short on time and want a more focused introduction to Noam Chomsky and the eroding labor movement in the United States and its effects on the public. Chomsky is an engaging public speaker, and his thoughts have relevance to all our lives, as he examines the history of unions and applies it to our present day situation. This CD will cause you to examine your views in regards to our government and its lack of respect for the workers of our nation.
Noam Chomsky Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind G-7 Welcoming Committee Set aside two hours and absorb some knowledge about corporate propaganda, public relations, government policy, and how this all relates to our individual freedom and control of our attitudes. Noam Chomsky, an M.I.T. professor, refers to our nation's buried history stemming from the 30's to the present day, exposing the origins of the mechanisms that seek (and at times have succeeded) to dominate the American psyche. Crucial listening, folks.
Nutrajet Nutrajet Disarraygun Records Based on first impressions, you'd think Nutrajet was a minimalist band. There're only two band members. The CD cover is printed in a simple yellow and pink palette, and lacks an insert booklet. There're only six songs, just shy of 20 minutes. Then you turn it on. This shit is LOUD and from Orlando! Apparently they concentrated on the music, instead of all the other crap that seems to surround being in a band. I have no idea how you can make one guitar sound like three, but self-proclaimed "guitar hero" Greg Reinel does it, supported by Suzanne Dozier's foundation-laying drumbeats.
One Hit Wonder Who the Hell is Nitro Records Ladies and gentlemen, Social Distortion! Yep, it sounds as though Mike Ness is fronting for a pop punk band. I like this band when they sing in their own voice, which isn't as much as needs be. There are some good songs here, so just be forewarned about the S.D. sound-a-like.
ORSo (self-titled) Perishable Sounding like a lonely banjo being abused by a roomful of collegiate, musical types. Plucked, chucked, and stroked through a midi, misinterpreted for the sake of angstful expression, ORSo, doesn't really bring much to the indie rock canon except the familiar and personable, gee thanks, boys. Each track, although different in rhythmic structure and vocal arrangements, displays a conscious attempt by the band to appeal to the lowliest and most pathetic sensibility of their listernership: the tragic continuation of mediocre indie rock, no dancing my friends, you'd spoil your melancholia. The label, a new one out of Chicago, has employed an eye-catching color scheme and texture for the packaging, one surmises, as a distraction to the contents which await inside.
Out in Worship Sterilized Perishable Ltd This is a truly astounding ambient recording. Strings, keyboards, slow percussion, samples and scratching are intermixed seamlessly for a dark lullaby to bring you under. Severely recommended.
Pop Unknown Summer Season Kills (EP) Deep Elm Records Pop Unknown combine the right elements of indie with the intensity of emo. This gives them a more original sound as opposed to labeling them as another "emo band." As the five-song EP progresses it gets better and better. The vocals are soothing yet aggressive, overcoming the listener and drawing you in. As the vocals rub you, the music pounds from a simple melody to a complex, creative groove, dancing between slow and mid-tempos.
Radiobaghdad 665: Neighbor of the Beast! Onefoot Records The track "Ton O Bricks" says it all. This is melodic pop-punk that is charged with energy and lace with catchy, bouncy riffs that will keep you bopping all night long. Very Cool stuff.
Raise Hell Holy Target Nuclear Blast America Definitely for death metal fans. "Raise Hell" sounds like old Agnostic Front combined with old Corrosion of Conformity, with extra aggression and, of course, Satan references. Evidently, they neglected to mention good ol' Beelzebub in their list of acknowledgments. Boy, will he be pissed.
Rhythm Activism Jesus Was Gay G-7 Welcoming Committee You have to approach this recording as an irreverent cabaret. The songs appropriate blue grass jangliness on the title track, then move to a lounge vibe on others. They carry the spirit of punk and independence in not following the generic mold of guitars and screaming. It's really meant to make you think, so give it an active listen.
Ron Sunshine & Full Swing Straight Up Daddy-O Records Hailing from the Big Apple, and wherever else they can manage to get a gig, Ron Sunshine & Full Swing come at you with some straight up swing, infused with heavy blues overtones, courtesy of Mr. Sunshine's dynamic harmonica playing. They claim to have been playing swing music before the latest revival (don't they all?) and I believe them. Opting for a more underpolished sound, Full Swing provides the listener with a one-way ticket right into the studio. These are mostly original songs, except for a few standards, but unless you're a hardcore swing fan, I dare you to tell the difference.
Seaweed Actions and Indications Merge Records Seaweed has been around. And now they are on Merge after a release on the major label Hollywood Records. The newest release is a melodic rock fest that displays a couple of different styles of music. About half of the tracks are straight-up, melodic, full-bodied rock with emotional power. The rest are a bit more rock and roll with some southern rock or garage influences. A beautiful voice said it is "Spacehog-ish." A solid album from a band that can really rock.
Shai Hulud/Indecision The Fall of Every Man Split (10"/CD) Crisis Records I'm really impressed by the Shai Hulud tracks, as it's a different, yet truer sound than their full-length recordings. Less volume, more intensity is the best way to describe it. I really like Indecision already so if you haven't heard them or Shai Hulud, this is a good start.
Shuggie Working For MCA Cargo/Headhunter Records Okay, hipsters. Take note. Glam is okay again. And muscle car rock'n'roll might make a comeback if Shuggie can help it. But let me steer you to a better band -- Red Kross. Their "Third Eye" album references more in a stronger context. Hmm. How come creative folks can't reference NOW and have some FOREsight instead of retro-retreads?
Sinister Aggressive Measures Nuclear Blast This is ferocious metal that will shred your speakers. Not just speed, but good musicianship make this a really good disc for those of you who have a bent toward aggression and anger. This is death metal as it should be.
Slab (self-titled) Maelstrom Music Slab are four Cali boys who deliver uptempo, melodic punk rock that is rather toe- tappin". They have that "Fat Wreck" sound, not to put them down, but that's what they are. Think Whippersnapper, Bolweevils and Guttermouth and you're in! This is a surprisingly fun record and pretty darn tight too.
Sliver Beneath the Waves Guilt Ridden Pop music with male and female vocals can either be great or suck. Sliver has managed to use dueling vocals to its benefit and added in emotionally driven pop to complete the dish. Sometimes pretty and sexy, other times aggressive and angry, and often filled with folk-like overtones.
Slow Gherkin Shed Some Skin Asian Man Records Slow Gherkin packs a nice punch with its punk-influenced ska. The production values are very good, making "Shed Some Skin" enjoyable to listen to, except for the singing. It was out of tune and half yelled, and I couldn't get past it. If you can, you may like this.
Smile Girl Crushes Boy Headhunter/Cargo Music "Girl Crushes Boy" is the second full-length from this Orange County, California combo. Not your typical Orange County punk band, Smile adds elements of grunge and indie rock to the pop punk formula. The result is a sound not unlike an indie version of the Foo Fighters. If only they had been in a world famous band with an unstable, drug-addicted frontman with a gun collection, Smile might be all over MTV and "alternative" radio right now. Some people just get all the breaks.
Smog Knock Knock Drag City Records Bill Callahan, operating under the moniker of Smog, is back with another collection of introspective tunes. On "Knock Knock," Callahan plays minimalist pop with a country-ish feel. At times, it evokes Lambchop's quieter moments, or Low without so much reverb. This is a good record for when your significant other leaves you.
Spite Heavy Whipping Cream Opulence! Heavy guitars and distortioned vocals populate "Heavy Whipping Cream." This disc has a Filter feeling to it; mostly moody with some changes toward faster, riff heavy tunes. If you don't have fun with the music, at least you can pass the time trying to identify from which movies they got the samples that intro many of the songs.
Supernovice Timely Maelstrom Music Boys and girls love to sing together. This band duels the vocals within several tracks (all maybe). The music is pop-punk with an aggressive edge. Among the eleven tracks are some really catchy tunes.
Swingin' Utters The Sound's Wrong (EP) Fat Wreck Chords Punk rock for the kids. I don't like their guitar sound at all -- it sounds like it's coming out of a wimpy amp with the occasional guitar solo noodling to add texture to the bland lo-fi recording. However, the singer has a great gruff voice. If you like horrible sounding music with strong vocals, treat yourself!
The 2 Live Crew The Real One Lil' Joe Records It's hard to believe it, but this is the same 2 Live Crew from Miami of the past. And they're back with the same old Miami-bass hip-hop they gained fame with. The music makes me laugh, but at the same time I'm enjoying the basslines and imagine that any fans of booty rap will totally love this. Look out, KC (from KC and the Sunshine Band) joins them on a track as well as The Luniz and Ice-T on others.
The Ataris Look Forward to Failure (EP) Fat Wreck Chords I was wondering when The Ataris were going to release something new. This is a follow-up release to their great full-length on Kung-Fu (and a new full-length is soon to be released). They are a four-piece that delivers tight, pop-punk with an aggressive edge. The vocals are awesome, the guitar work is wildly creative and the music has just enough changes to keep you bouncing.
The Bouncing Souls Tie One On! Epitaph A live recording that is really a lot of fun. The sound is good, the music itself is really catchy pop punk that veers into street rock on occasion, and the banter with the audience is entertaining. Get this, or just go see them live.
The Crainium A New Music for a New Kitchen Slow Dime Records Art rock for art rock lovers. I really liked the quotes in the CD booklet, but the record is too conceptual for my tastes. If you like performance art-y stuff that defies traditional arrangements, this is for you!
The Deviates My Life Theologian Records I am quite the fan of the Deviates now! I expected depressing gutter punk anthems, and what I got was great posi-core! Oh, they may not want to claim posi-core, but they are, damn it. The lyrics are optimistic, the music is driving with catchy choruses, and the voice has a Kevin Seconds clarity to it. Hmmm ... Much recommended!
The Farewell Bend In Passing Slowdime Ah, the quirky sound of indie-rock. There are sounds on this record that remind me of Modest Mouse, Braid and Archers of Loaf -- however, none of those describe the completeness of this album. The vocals are pleasantly unstable, yet harmonious. The music is creative and fascinatingly diverse with a sometimes present country jangle in both the music and the vocal style.
The Gun & Doll Show Working on the Bomb Fortune Records "Working on the Bomb" is the first-full length for this California band. The Gun & Doll Show has developed a large following around San Francisco for their wild and energetic stage shows. While headlining the legendary Fillmore Auditorium, the band's two singers performed in a giant homemade pie and invited a 50-guitar orchestra on stage. The album features ironic pop tunes and some darker, introspective pieces as well. Good stuff.
The Hellacopters Super Shitty to the Max Man's Ruin Records The Hellacopters are a noisy, garage-punk outfit with intensity like none other and searing guitars that make your ears curl. This is a reissue of their classic first album. They're Swedish Grammy winners, if that means anything to you. The first issue of it is incredibly hard to find, so here it is for you in a more accessible place. If you're a collector, you'll dig the super-limited 12" version on colored vinyl with a silk- screened sleeve and bonus track. This will rock your next door neighbor's house!
The Lothars Meet The Lothars Wobbly Music This is an instrumental CD I'm happy to have! The music is composed by theremins and guitar and bass. It has an eerie texture to it. I don't think it's unfair to compare it to the sonics of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." A must for experimental music/noise fans.
The Malefactors Three Chords and the Truth Punncrock Records If you thought that punk rock left with the Angry Samoans, DRI and the Subhumans, this band is here to say it's back. The formula is simple: high speed music, angry (sometimes poignant) lyrics, and the occasional breakdown that the kids will really love. These Orlando locals do it well but use too many South Park samples.
The Nerve Agents (self-titled) Revelation This is a decent hardcore effort, but there isn't much to distinguish it from everything else released in the history of hardcore. Some of the writing is excellent, yet others are quite silly ("Level 4 Outbreak") in their paranoia. If you want more of the same, well, you get it here!
The Promise Ring Boys and Girls Jade Tree Records It's been a sunny summer in Wisconsin. This CD/ep/7" from the Promise boys gives us fans something to chew on until their next record comes out. And it's tasty! "Tell Everyone We're Dead" and "Best Looking Boys" show off the band's poetic-pop genius; sad, sweet and delectably goofy. Pop as it should be. The last track, "American Girl," is a more arty effort, somehow appropriating heartland Americana to the emo kids. Interesting if less visceral. If you like the Ring, you'll dig the disc.
The Queers Punk Rock Confidential Hopeless Records Ladies and gentlemen, the Ramones! Songs the Ramones hadn't recorded, but hey, who needs them when you have the Queers?!! If you like the Ramones, chances are you'll like this. Are the Queers paying royalties for this plagiarism? Hmm ...
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Black Date Cleopatra If you like rock'n'roll, greasy, rebellious rock'n'roll, check out this CD. For all the make-up and outrageous imagery, I'm happy to report that TVHKB is really flat-out rock to guitar-driven rock'n'roll, complete with guitar solos and a driving back beat (even a power ballad!). The music stands up beyond their image and underground scene history. You must own this!
The Wayouts Better Days ... Harmless Records This band is a real find. Hailing from the Windy City, they can add their name to the list of great bands coming out of there as of late (The Broadways, Alkaline Trio, Tuesday, etc.). The Wayouts have their own thing going on though ... aggressive, melodic punk with awesome tempo changes and hooks with emo overtones. The lyrics are also damn good, something that a lot of bands seem to forget about.
This Busy Monster Like Icicles Barsuk Records TBM play fun-filled pop rock that has some aggressive, emotional twists to it and an indie rock feel. There is also a real funk thing going on -- it's a rather eclectic mix of sounds. For those who like their music a bit out of whack, this may be just what youčre looking for. Bonus: great CD packaging and insert.
Thy Serpent Christcrusher Nuclear Blast I tried it, but I just don't like it. These guys whine and screech and use lofty sounding pseudo-language ("Thou Bade Nothingness") in ways that make me want to giggle and vomit at the same time. I guess if you like guys who wear more make-up than a Playboy Playmate and yodel about hating God, then you'll like this. You can have my copy.
Tricky the Cosmonaut (self-titled) Opulence! Stand back cause it's the Dead Milkmen -- well, not really, but this three-piece combines the same quirky tunes with punk rock (not quite as punk as DM -- more jangly). If you're into fun, silly but smart, guitar-oriented tunes, you'll be diggin' this.
Uncle Eddie Fountain City Follies Crustacean Records I really wasn't terribly impressed by this disc. There's nothing wrong with it, but it just does not seem to make itself a standout in any way. There isn't anything about it that makes me want to run out and buy more. It's average, non-descript rock like you might hear any college band play.
Underwater I Could Lose Risk Records Melissa Mileski's voice soothingly drifts over a soundscape rich with waves of samples and electronic music. The pace is pretty slow most of the time, except one or two tracks that are a bit more danceable. "I Could Lose" is worth checking out.
Various Artists At War with Society New Red Archives Okay. This CD has a sell price of $.99, and contains 33 tracks of old and new bands you may have heard of but never heard. The buck stops here -- own this for that amount (plus tax). Included are such bands as Loudmouths, No Use For A Name, Reagan Youth and Samiam.
Various Artists Deep Thoughts Nitro Records This is a promo CD sampler of various material available on the Nitro label. It's a scam if you have to pay more than $6 for this. Music is poppy punk and hardcore. Not being familiar with these bands, it's a good sampler.
Various Artists Five Years on the Streets Vagrant Records This is a 21- track sampler of bands on Vagrant Records. The unreleased tracks aren't anything special. I liked Face To Face's "I'm Trying," but that was about it. Give it a listen before buying. Other bands include: Blink 182, Hippos and Automatic 7.
Various Artists Hang 10 American Pop Project This CD is a reissue of a 10-inch record that originally came out on Shredder Records a couple years ago. It features 15 bands performing surf-themed material. As a bonus, the CD has five additional tracks by artists such as Man or Astro-man? and the Kung Fu Monkeys that weren't on the original. Surf's up.
Various Artists Lucky #13 Sampler HARDKNOCKS Records There are 15 different bands featured on this compilation. HARDKNOCKS solicits bands to appear on their compilations, the bands pay a fee ($100) and receive 50 copies of the record (which isn't bad if they are able to sell most of them). Most of the bands featured play metal or alternative rock (and some metal-rap crossover stuff). Some are better than others, but it's unlikely that you've heard of any of them: Monovox, Grim Reality, Power Lloyd, Moster Island, Capstone and more. Not a bad record if you want a sampling of less-known rock/metal bands.
Various Artists Mushroom Jazz 2: DJ Mark Farina OM Records If you're searching for a groove, fall into this dope compilation. It features some of the smoothest tracks of trip-hop, jazzy beats and soul-infused flavor. DJ Mark Farina did the spinning of tracks by such hipsters as Deadbeats, DJ Migs, Spacehopper and Smoke No Bones. This is as good, if not better, than the first installment of this series.
Various Artists Punk Archives Cleopatra Records This is where it all began -- like it or not. With bands like Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Menace, Rabid and The Slits, this is 25 of the most mohawk sportin' chain wearin' early punk songs around. A must for any true punk aficionado.
Various Artists Set On It Onset Records The cover says it best: "A compilation of some of California's freshest power pop, punk, emo, indie-rock, hip-hop, garage, surf, and ska tunes." I hadn't heard of most of these bands before, but this album impressed me. The folks at Onset Records have put together a CD that sounds like a good mix tape.
Various Artists Southern Distro Fall/Winter 98 Comp Southern Records This is a nice sampler, starting with a great song by Rainer Maria who conjure up memories of Jejune live, and carrying the indy rock torch away from Olympia with its various bands. The tracks are slow, and put you to sleep if you're not into it. Give it a quick listen and buy the full lengths instead of this.
Various Artists Wankin' in the Pit Suburban Home/California Roll The folks at Suburban Home and California Roll got together to release this 35-minute compilation with an international flavor. Represented are Japan, the USA, Canada and England. Featured are NOFX, the Mad Caddies, Potshot, Chixdiggit, Limp, Strung Out and others. Averaging 2.5 minutes a song, you'll get the most bang for your buck on this one.
Walt Mink Goodnight Deep Elm Records This is the final show Walt Mink did (Nov. '97, Mercury Lounge NYC). They are indie rock with an emphasis on the rock. And we're talking about guitar-solo, intense rock and roll. They've been doing it since 1989, so they've got the skills to do this the right way. This is as good as a live album can get, 75 minutes of music.
Weeping in Fits and Starts Blue Funnel World Rhubarb Records This is one of the best indie-pop records I have heard in quite some time. "Blue Funnel World" is intended as a response to Brian Eno's "Another Green World," but Eno is only one of the many influences on this record. The album flows through straightforward pop, moody instrumentals, and more atmospheric pieces to create one of the year's most enjoyable listens.
Where Fear and Weapons Meet (self-titled EP) Revelation This is an amazing hardcore record! Great singing, lyrics, sing-a-longs and breakdowns. Truly a must listen for fans of hardcore and heavy music. I'm saying no more -- own this!
Youth Brigade Out of Print BYO Records Few bands have left a mark on the punk scene quite like Youth Brigade. This is a reissue of their classic "Sound & Fury" album from 1982 and a couple other various tracks from '81-'93. Their music is the anthem to which so many punks grew up. Just about every band to come after them was influenced by Youth Brigade. The music is fast paced, lyrically inspiring and melodic throughout -- the kind of stuff that makes you think you can skateboard again.
SEVEN INCH REVIEWS
Franklin (self-titled 7") Tree Records Franklin are a D.C.-style band with quirky, yet creative aspects. At times, there's a Janes Addiction-ish sound that comes through and a strong aggro-emo feel.
Lynards Innards Houston, We Have a Problem 7" Harmless Records Delicious pop-punk with a groove that is infectious and a true sense of rock and roll. Three songs to make you smile.
Shyster Cold Weather 7" Firmament Records The boys are still kickin', despite a couple lineup changes, on this two song 7" that features aggressive punk rock with emo-overtones and massive melodies. As Shyster's sound progresses, their newer material is getting better and better.
The Frumpies Eunuch Nights Kill Rock Stars Lo-fi indie rock from Olympia! No! Side A had the near same bass line for both songs, and side B was alright but nothing stellar. I know this appeals to its audience. You stay on your side of the world, I'll stay on mine.
The Gloria Record Drove home to that achingly long song ... 7" Crank! Pretty, soothing, striking and driving are great words to capture a moment with these four guys. It reminds me of the newer Sunny Day material.
Toilet Boys Hard 7" Devil Doll Records Glam rock meets punk rock on this three-song slab. There's a real older punk feel to it, kinda dirty, fucked up and ready to rock
RECORD LABEL ADDRESSES
Alias Records, 2815 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91505