SCRAM #15 Record Reviews
all reviews by Kim Cooper except as noted
The Addrisi Brothers Never My Love: The Lost Album Sessions
CD (Varèse Sarabande) The Addrisis’ "Never My Love"
was such a smash for the Association that they got to go into
the studio to try a record of their own in 1970. The results:
this charming, deliriously romantic California pop set, featuring
Harry Nilsson on backing vocals. Arch, mannered orchestral fluff,
brimming with rings in velvet boxes and vows of eternal devotion
yeah, this one’s definitely for the girls.
Ann Beretta New Union… Old Glory CD (Lookout!) Good,
snappy punk rock of the Partisans/STF variety. Strong hooks, tight
playing. The kinda band that you expect to pump out a full on
assault at every gig, even if there’s only one audience member.
And that guy will be skanking by himself at 70mph. I’m a sucker
for stuff like this. (Margaret Griffis)
The Aqua Velvets Radio Waves double CD (Milan) Crisp
radio sessions from the long-lived Bay Area instro surf band,
who throw together a stew of retro and more contemporary elements
to create their signature swirling sound. A bonus EP recorded
live in Mill Valley includes a whammy-damaged "Smells Like
The Arthurs walking in the sunlight CD (Dirigeable)
From Austin comes this appealing ’67-style pop quartet whose debut
is packed with catchy tunes and dreamboat harmonies. Doesn’t sound
like they’re trying too hard, and they’re definitely having fun.
Autoliner Be CD (Parasol) Lush, energetic pop trio with
dense harmonies applied to pleasant little songs that remind me
of the Jam when they’re not Cheap Trickish. Kinda lite metal in
spots-is that the new power pop?
Beachwood Sparks once we were trees CD (Sub Pop) Hypnotic
washes of chiming country rock, shambling, ambitious and warm.
There’s a lot here, and it’s sounding more distinctly their own.
I wish they played it straighter with the vocals, though-on the
pretty songs it seems like they’re smirking.
The Beacon Street Union The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens
180gm LP (Akarma) Pre-Partridge Family, superstar producer Wes
Farrell oversaw these giddily ambitious Boston Sound-ers’ 1968
LP, rich with Oompah-Loompah orchestral washes, outta control
guitars and snotty Prince Valiant vocals. The straight "Blue
Suede Shoes" cover five years before the ’50s revival is
just plain weird, but a 17-minute "Baby Please Don’t Go"
was definitely a good idea. Only on the added non-LP single does
Wes team with Tony Romeo to actually write the group’s material-and
it’s pure Partridge, natch!
The Blow Up "Dead Stars" +2 45 (eMpTy) Former
Inhalants and Gimmicks hook up for a tuneful punkarama blast with
extra tasty screams and rhythms snagged from grade school bullies.
"Black Lipstick" highlights about 12 seconds of a sensitive
Blue Öyster Cult S/T CD (Columbia/Legacy) Fine
Long Island arcana from the nascent Cult, who having shed their
failed East Coast Dead skin remade themselves as brainiac cycle
goons. Batty lyrical contributions from Pearlman and Meltzer bring
sci fi and pro rasslin’ into the mix, but nobody would care if
the band wasn’t a heavy metal machine capable of flights of grace
abutting moments of terrorizing thud. Perversity never sounded
Blue Öyster Cult Tyranny and Mutation CD (Columbia/Legacy)
Album #2 (1973). Side one (The Black) is heavy metal boogie aggro,
sinister and plodding, the sonic equivalent of bugs picked out
of a biker’s teeth. This stuff filled their live act for decades
to come-and the bonus tracks here are live, with Buck Dharma taking
a break from "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" to tell Seattle
how he sold his soul for a record deal. The flip (The Red) offers
artier melodic strains, including an early Patti lyric and the
lovely "Wings Wetted Down." Not their strongest set,
but you can really hear the Cult identity taking form.
Blue Öyster Cult Secret Treaties CD (Columbia/Legacy)
Released on the cusp of their first headlining tour, Treaties
is a demented delight, highlighting four prototypical BÖC
themes: hysterical middle America rapo fantasy ("Dominance
and Submission"), Nazi flyboy theme song ("ME 262"),
freak portraiture ("Harvester of Eyes," "Cagey
Cretins") and gorgeous pseudo-scientific romance ("Astronomy").
The band locked into a speedy groove overlaid with guitars crunchy
enough to scratch your enamel. This might be my favorite Cult
disc, and I’d recommend it for anyone wanting to start out with
the reissues. It’s stoopid, weird, every song is great and it
rocks like hell. Plus it’s got the most intriguing batch of bonus
tracks, including a shockingly misogynist ditty called "Mommy"
that somehow wasn’t released till now.
Blue Öyster Cult Agents of Fortune CD (Columbia/Legacy)
Their breakthrough record, sounding warm and bright. Yeah, "Reaper"
is an astonishing single (musically and conceptually), but the
album doesn’t quite work. There’s some terrific stuff here-"This
Ain’t the Summer of Love" and "E.T.I." especially-but
also some tracks that are just hookless, and unworthy of the band.
Where the songs measure up to the improved production you’ll find
some of the Cult’s best moments, but don’t expect a straight-through
listening pleasure. The bonus tracks are particularly interesting,
with Buck Dharma’s home demo of "Reaper," a song that
later ended up on a Jim Carroll album, and a couple things derived
from Patti Smith poems (though she doesn’t get her co-write credit
The Boss Martians Move! CD (Dionysus) Some tracks here
highlight a cool new sound for the Martians, a soulful, hard-edged
sixties r&b groove with cheesy organ fills. Almost seems like
a name change should be in order for a transformation like this,
though hints of the old surfy Martians remain, and there’s plenty
of car talk and echo. File under: transitional, and let’s keep
an eye on ’em.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre Braveryrepetitionandnoise
CD (Bomp) Low key, hypnotic offering from Anton’s troublemaking
clan, sounding this time out like a folksier Cult, with passing
shards of T. Rex. Nice uncreditted and mistitled cover of the
Cryan Shames’ "Sailing Ship."
The Centimeters The Lifetime Achievement Awards CD (Space
Baby) The Centimeters have been spreading confusion locally long
enough. Now the rest of the world can boggle to their utterly
unique blend of new wave, German expressionism, homegrown weirdness,
and of course Nora Keyes’ demented kewpie doll act. Love ’em or
run screaming from the room, you won’t be able to ignore the Centimeters.
The Chesterfield Kings "Yes I Understand "
b/w "Sometime At Night" 45 (Sundazed) The a-side is
a jangly, catchy original reminiscent of the Kings’ early waxings,
though at 3:51 it runs long. The flip’s the Beau Brummels song,
with Brums vocalist Sal Valentino guesting. While sounding more
fragile, his remains a lovely instrument, and the backing is most
Chitlin’ Fooks S/T CD (Hidden Agenda/Palomine) Sweet,
subdued California country rock duets from Bettie Serveert’s Carol
Van Dyk and Pascal Deweze of Sukilove, accompanied by a passel
of Dutch folks doing a convincing Fallen Angels act. The few originals
nestle comfortably among the Burritos and Jimmie Rodgers covers.
Cold Blood Vintage Blood? Live! 1973 CD (Dig) First
official live release from the groundbreaking party funk band
of the early ’70s. Lydia Pense lead an eight-piece, horns-happy
act through six albums that helped reshape the musical climate.
As this set illustrates, Cold Blood knew their chops and were
spirited musicians on stage. Pense is note-perfect throughout,
but gives her group plenty of room to stretch out and shine on
these five long songs. There are plenty of extended jam sessions
to go around. Funky, soulful rhythms from the same era and general
locale as Tower of Power. The bands also shared a similar sound.
(P. Edwin Letcher)
Conflict/ Mortarhate Only Stupid Bastards Help Go-Kart
Records CD (Go-Kart) Understandably, I only got a sampler instead
of all 14 CDs in the newly re-issued Conflict/Mortarhate catalogue
(rats!) so instead of reviewing it, I’ll just blather on about
the bands. As I recall, Conflict was second only to Crass in Anarcho-communist
punk circles. Faster and harder, they were easier to grasp by
hardcore, Oi, even metal fans than the artier Crass. Along with
the ten albums originally released by Mortarhate come three CDs
by various artists (Crass, chumbawamba, UK Subs) and the self-titled
Icons of Filth. (Margaret Griffis)
The Cripplers One More For The Bad Guys CD (Dionysus)
Rocking good country-junkie punk from Columbia, MO. Though not
as heroin addled as most of their brethren, these fellas have
shot up enough Heartbreakers to preserve Johnny Thunders for a
few more years. Yet Missouri does not live by smack alone-the
Cripplers spend just as much time cranked up on DMZ and occasionally
dosing on SoCal superheroes Tex & the Horseheads and the Flesheaters.
The music sounds like it somehow breaks the speed limit heading
to gigs in a disintegrating 40-year-old Ford. Serious whiplash
warning. (Margaret Griffis)
The Cyrkle Red Rubber Ball CD (Sundazed) Brute Force
fiends will want to pick up this reish of the Brian Epstein protégés’
debut for his two songwriting contributions-"Why Can’t You
Give Me What I Want," with its daffy harpsichord figure and
phasing, and the punkily minimal "There’s A Fire in the Fireplace."
But there’s plenty more here to interest fans of sophisticated,
well-arranged mid-sixties folk/pop, including almost another album’s
worth of bonus tracks.
The Cyrkle Neon CD (Sundazed) The band continues to
trot out perversities whenever you think you’ve got ’em pegged
as romantics. Compare the glistening Bacharach-David "It
Doesn’t Matter Anymore" with the possible gag version of
"I’m Happy Just To Dance With You" or the utterly lunatic
take on Carol Bayer & Toni Wine’s "Problem Child."
Whatever did the teenies make of these nuts? No Brute Force this
time out, but how’s about a couple of flop singles covering the
early Bee Gees? Neon was the last hurrah for the short-lived Cyrkle,
its leaders making the switch to the more lucrative world of jingle
writing, foreshadowed by their ad for Camaro, also included here.
David S/T 180gm LP (Comet) Not to be confused with The
David, this Canadian combo started in 1963 as The Marcatos, a
rock-meets-TJ Brass bar band. Their one album was recorded in
late ’68, and is lovesick vocal pop with unusual arrangements,
as when the horns call-and-response with electric guitar. They
cover "Hey Jude" (nahhh) and "House of the Rising
Sun" (cool). Kinda clunky, but certainly original. It did
well on Canadian radio, where programmers were required to play
a percentage of locally made music.
The David Another Day, Another Lifetime CD (Jamie/Guyden)
New stereo remix of the 1967 VMC album sessions by this interesting
SoCal orchestral psych band. Strong original songs by Warren Hansen
are set soaring by Gene Page’s ambitious string and horn arrangements,
while punky fuzz guitar leads and thudding drums nestle alongside
angelic harmonies. It sounds like it shouldn’t work at all, yet
it does in surprising ways. With a couple of bonus tracks, including
a wicked instrumental take on the Yardbirds’ "Mister, You’re
a Better Man Than I."
The Deadly Ones It’s Monster Surfing Time CD (Collectables)
Joe South seems to be the (horribly throbbing) brains behind this
Southern fried surfsploitation platter, originally waxed for Vee-Jay.
Monster sound effects and dialogue lend a Halloweeny air to what’s
otherwise a solid set of moody instros, heavy on the twang.
The Deadly Snakes I’m Not Your Soldier Anymore CD (In
The Red) Hot and twangy rock-n-roll by guys who love gritty psych
blues and other beer chugging music incomprehensible to art school
majors and goth types. They even have harmonica, organ and sax
on this beauty. Hotter than a Texas rattlesnake sunning hisself.
Deep Reduction "2" CD (Get Hip) Expect a fuss
over this new collaboration by ex-Birdmen Deniz Tek and Rob Younger
and the Stump Wizards. It’s full of the kind of raw, aggressive
moodiness that Younger specialized in with the New Christs, but
with a bluesier, more American feel. The excitement of hearing
that voice and that guitar sound together again is undeniable,
but it’s very much a group effort, with much of the songwriting
by Wizards guitarist Jack Chiara. Potent stuff.
The Dictators D.F.F.D. CD (Dictators Multimedia) Twentysome
years after Bloodbrothers, the Dics return with a long player
on their own label that celebrates their city and all the trashy
stuff they dig. Live faves like "Who Will Save Rock and Roll?"
"Avenue A" and "I Am Right" sound tuff and
cool finally captured on tape. I’m kind of put off though by a
strain of bitterness and negativity running through the record,
with "Pussy and Money" being the prime offender. I like
these guys better when they’re not whining.
The Dils Dils Dils Dils CD (Bacchus Archives) Were the Dils really
commies? Were they even punks? At this late date, hardly anyone
cares. They sure had a few great tunes, though. For completists
only, this latest comp has their first surprisingly tuneful demos,
the oft-heard Dangerhouse and Rogelletti 45s, and a ten sloppy,
muffled live recordings from 1978-79, including the Velvets’ "What
Goes On" and "Wreck of the Old 97." You shoulda
The Diplomats of Solid Sound Instrumental Action Soul
CD and "Bullfrog Boogalo" b/w "Willie’s Theme"
45 (Prescription) From the ashes of Iowa City’s Bent Sceptors
comes this funkily breezy Hammond groove combo. The ambitiously
cinematic arrangements of their tight little tunes makes me wanna
hear this with a dance floor nearby. Old school cool.
The Dipsomaniacs Stethoscopic Notion CD (Camera Obscura)
From Norway (via an Australian label) come some deliciously dreamy
psychedelia in a Younger Than Yesterday meets Green Pajamas vein.
"Bring Flowers to the Courthouse" is more Beatles via
Elephant 6. Hermetic, and highly crafted. Øyvind Holm has
a peculiarly shrill voice that lends itself well to twining with
the gorgeous instrumentation. Very fine stuff. I’ll be looking
out for their earlier European-only releases.
The Dirtbombs Ultraglide in Black CD (In the Red) The
prolific Mick Collins and pals rip through a set of old school
soul and funk covers, with a one snotty garagy original to remind
us that, for Mick, the concept of "roots" is broad indeed.
Excitement, trash and passion.
DMZ live at the rat CD (Bomp) Live disk with eight songs
from 1976, eleven from the 1993 reunion (of everyone but the rhythm
section). The early stuff is brutal and delirious, a great mix.
Monoman’s voice has lost a lot of its power over the years, but
from the fan response it sounds like the ’93 show was well received.
Crazed, lewd and primitive punk-garage from the guys who conceptualized
it. Don’t miss the ranting Monoman liner notes bagging on the
CBGB’s scene and Sire Records’ lousy coke.
The Dogs "Class of 1970 " b/w "Rebel
Rock" 45 (Dionysus) The a-side’s a relentless new Dogs epic,
celebrating old school lowlife pleasures to a jaw-clenching riff.
Flip to hear the muddy sounds of the band playing in 1971, as
captured on cassette.
The Dream Syndicate The Days of Wine and Roses CD (Rhino)
Haven’t listened to this stuff in years, but time was they were
"my" hometown band, so beloved I once missed the last
bus rather than their set and walked home from west LA to Hollywood.
It was worth it. When Kendra was in the band they had a mysterious
alchemy that got into your bones and itched exquisitely. Never
was the same after she split. Coming back to these songs via Bill
Inglot’s crisp remaster, I marvel I ever argued "hey, they’re
not that Velvety"-they were, and wonderfully primitive, and
full of the kind of passion and pleasure and snotty confidence
that’s still completely captivating. With the complete pre-album
Down There EP, a couple of interesting lo-fi rehearsal takes,
and the ultrarare Davis single by Steve Wynn’s Brit-damaged 15
Minutes, including the original "That’s What You Always Say."
A recent live performance of the entire album (!) by Steve’s new
band at the Hollywood Knitting Factory was transcendent without
being more than ironically nostalgic. No one was really gonna
meet Steve for Oki dogs after the show, but the crowd of fortyish
Paisley Undergrounders and a smattering of savvy kids sure ate
up the brittle, warm and affectionate sounds. Pure magic, with
all the changes of two decades resting like a thin palimpsest
over the beating heart of the original LP. Completely different
from hearing it played first time around, but just as great.
Duotang The Bright Side CD (Mint) Unusual stripped-down
mod sound from this Canadian duo with no guitars but some deceptive
bass parts. Clever and prickly.
Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark Together at
the Bluebird Cafe CD (American Originals) You’ll wish you’d been
in the room for this 1995 benefit concert for a Nashville charity
dental clinic, one of the last times these three old friends got
together to spin tales and share songs. All were in fine voice
and spirits, with jokes flying fast between the great tunes. There’s
a priceless Townes tale about gambling away his gold tooth. You
get the sense of mutual respect and a bit of friendly rivalry
between them as each trots out songs that are harder to top. "I’ll
see you one ‘Valentines Day’ and raise you a ‘Pancho and Lefty.’"
The Electric Eels The Eyeball of Hell CD (Scat) 100%
pure Cleveland bile and dada, circa 1975, with a bunch of unreleased
stuff, including a wonderfully hateful "Dead Man’s Curve,"
the original "Agitated" 45 and voluminous notes from
the participants. It’s tough to take a whole CD of these guys,
but you’ve gotta stand in open-mouthed awe at the sounds they
were making and how early they were making them.
Enemies / Pitch Black split CD (Lookout) Although noble
in intent, split records don’t translate well into the CD age.
In the old days of vinyl, you’d place the side you wanted to hear
on the turntable and listen to the band you were interested in
at the moment. Then, some other time (maybe even 16 minutes later),
you’d listen to the other side gleefully, as if you’d purchased
two LPs for the price of one. But with CDs, you have to deal with
both bands being on the same side. One band always gets the bum
deal of having all their songs at the end (unless you have the
even worse scenario of mixing up the songs). Always get your split
albums on vinyl if you have the choice. That said, split records
do get a decent sampling of music out to the public. Both bands
here hail from the East Bay punk scene. The Enemies are a metal
tinged hardcore band with Dave Edwardson from Neurosis. Imagine
the Descendents covering Black Sabbath-perky and poppy followed
by dark and slow. Newcomers Pitch Black play the genre a little
closer to SoCal. They apparently are jack-o’-lanterns, but don’t
let their race sway you. Both bands play it hard and tight. (Margaret
The Evaporators "Honk the Horn" 7" EP
(Nardwuar/ Mint) The Evaporators are rock and roll interviewing
madman Nardwuar’s band, and this EP has something for everyone:
several ebulliently silly and hopped up songs, a funny snippet
of Nardwuar asking Tommy Lee if he bought or rented that notorious
speedboat, and a printed history of the band’s van that magically
takes exactly as long to read as the record does to play.
Jad Fair & Daniel Johnston It’s Spooky CD (Jagjaguwar)
Originally released in ’89 on Fair’s 50 Skadillion Watts label,
this is the sound of two naïfs goading each other to increasing
heights of wackiness. Daniel gives vent to his prized obsessions
(ghosts, Beatles, Roky Erickson), and Jad’s participation gives
the whole scene the air of a folie a deux. Endearingly skewed
melodicism, though the drumming is pretty annoying. Isn’t "Tongues
Wag in this Town" a Dion McGregor dream? With bonus tracks
and video footage.
Mick Farren & the Deviants On Your Knees, Earthlings!!!
1967-2001 CD (Total Energy) Anti-chronological career survey of
Ladbroke Grove protopunk Farren and his varied compatriots released
to coincide with Farren’s Random House memoir of the counterculture.
Stray singles, album tracks and newly recorded oddities straddle
the worlds of punk, psych and madman blues, and whatever the year,
you can just tell these guys were smelly.
Fireballs of Freedom Welcome to the Octagon CD (Estrus)Opens
with hopped up grunge, more addicted to coffee and punk than metal
and junk. Then again, maybe not. The slower tunes sound like the
band’s run out of gas somewhere out in the hinterlands of Wash
St. and copped some Oxycontin to pass the time with while waiting
for Triple A. (Margaret Griffis)
Flute Force eyewitness CD (innova) Classical music audiences
notoriously fear and loathe contemporary classical music, which
leads many concert programmers scrambling to find ways to reassure
their audiences that new music can, in fact, be warm and friendly.
Composer David Alpher could not have found a more soothing narrator
for his eight movement work "Land of the Farther Suns"
than Garrison Keillor, and it must play very well in Peoria, indeed.
Kitsch-connoisseurs who read this here mag might be a little disappointed,
however: it’s smarmy, but no more so than the sum of its parts.
The rest of the music on the CD is fairly uninteresting to this
jaded listener, the exceptions being the piece by flautist extraordinaire
Robert Dick, who knows that a flute does not have to be nice,
and a piece for flute quartet and string quartet by Eric Stokes
which I found pleasant despite being inoffensive. The ensemble,
Flute Force, handles it all quite well. But please, somebody stop
them before they pun again. (Phil Curtis)
Flying Fatal Guilloteens The Now Hustle For New Diaboliks
CD (Estrus) Tweaky guitars and scratchy vocals give the impression
of good ole punk rock sloppiness, but listen closely and you’ll
hear it’s well rehearsed and perfectly executed punk rock sloppiness,
of the kind AmRep used to release. Interspersed between the driving
rhythms are some nice subtleties that hearken all the way back
to arty post punk. Good for people who simply wanna boogie and
those too intellectual to get off the couch. (Margaret Griffis)
Edith Frost Wonder Wonder CD (Drag City) Starts out
all innocent and folky, building in intensity until the sweetness
is cloaked in a medieval creepiness and starts sounding like the
voices in a madwoman’s head. Ambling tunes reveal complex structures
and compelling lyrics, with rather gorgeous results.
Fugazi The Argument CD / Furniture CD-EP (Dischord)
All right, I’ll admit it. I haven’t listened to a new Fugazi CD
in years. Not really because I haven’t wanted to. I just gave
up my record clerk job, moved to LA and discovered quarter LPs.
(Sorry, prices have skyrocketed since then.) As cheap as Fugazi
CDs are, they couldn’t compete. Besides which, there was one LP
a while back that I just couldn’t get into for whatever reason.
Maybe it was the way that Nation of Ulysses jerk stared us down
when he and Ian MacKaye sat down at our table at some show in
DC. I don’t know if he was acting as bodyguard or just a toadying
friend, but it really turned me off. I know you don’t always pick
your friends, but it seemed a bit lame of Ian to hang out with
intimidating poseurs, especially when I know those guys are nice
and have a sense of humor. And we were sitting there first. But
now I’m kinda sorry. If the last couple of CDs were as good as
this one or the EP, I’ve been missing out. While retaining that
trademark Fugazi sound, the character of the music has expanded,
containing nuances from near and far in the musical spectrum.
Some of it’s almost, dare I say it? Psychedelic and Beatlesque!
I dig the faster tunes over the introspective ones, but that’s
me. The slower tunes are just as good. I’d really, really like
to hear this while driving down the Interstate right before a
heavy rain, when the blackening clouds get thick and ready to
pounce. (Margaret Griffis)
Holly Golightly Singles Round-Up CD (Damaged Goods)
Both sides of every single single Holly released between 1995
and ’99, from labels on several continents, which is almost certainly
more than you’ve got in your jukebox. The styles range from Headcoatees
raunch to the later busted up country folk sides, but it’s always
pure Holly. Her highly personal chants of womanly woe make me
think of ancient Greek heroines rending their hair and being roused
Margo Guryan 25 demos CD (Franklin Castle) ’60s pop
songstress Guryan wrote the luscious "Sunday Morning"
(a hit for Spanky & Our Gang) and plenty of sweet tunes interpreted
here by her smoky whisper with electric piano accompaniment. There’s
a period solo album called Take A Picture that I’ll pick up sometime.
These simple recordings span thirty years, and give a good overview
of her delicate, romantic sensibility shot through with shards
of cynicism. The musical equivalent of hanging out in a rainy
window seat with a pussycat.
John Gilmore Laid Bare CD (Amok) Gilmore, author of
the Black Dahlia exploration Severed, has been quietly concocting
this sonic tour of L.A.’s underbelly with the help of maestro
Skip Heller and an impressive cast of associates, among them DJ
Bonebrake, Robert Drasnin, Big Jay McNeely, Ray Campi and magician
Teller on theremin. Dark tales unfold in a rough voice against
a jazzy noir backdrop, as we visit with some of the criminals
and art weirdoes Gilmore hung with in his decades on the scene.
Good accompaniment for a road trip, provided you don’t scare easy.
The Grains "Heart Full of Rain" b/w "Wait
A While" 45 (Teen Sound) Trad snot-nosed garage with a hint
of the 13th Floor Elevators’ electric jug on the flip. Bonus points
for having a lead singer named Heino.
The Guess Who Shakin’ All Over CD (Sundazed) Remastered
from newly discovered master tapes are two dozen early tracks
by the long-lived Canadian group. Their style veers all over the
map, from Shadows-style twang to Kinksy rave ups, Beatlesque love
tunes to an orchestral "Flying on the Ground is Wrong."
They may not have been particularly original, but they were inventive
players who made the best of mediocre local studios. This non-chronological
comp is a neat introduction to the many faces of the Guess Who.
Half Empties Full Bore CD (Out of Step)Punkity rock
heavily influenced by SoCal bands and English Oi, even a little
Naked Raygun and Misfits for fun. Occasionally anthemic, mostly
driving. Only some of the lyrics are printed, but I’m not sure
for what effect. Good form, but lyricist could improve if he had
a wider source of inspiration. (Margaret Griffis)
The Hard Feelings "Soul Party" 45 (Gearhead)
Sloppy, slobbery trash-soul ravers originally waxed by Nathaniel
Mayer and Solomon Burke, mixed by Raunch Hand Mariconda with suitably
Harpers Bizarre Feelin’ Groovy CD (Sundazed) Remastered
debut from the frothy harmony popsters who might be the quintessential
Warner Brothers art bubblegum band. Overseen by Lenny Waronker,
the band highsteps their way through a gentle repertoire by Randy
Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Paul Simon.
Bonus cuts: the Tikis WB single, from back when they were writing
their own (less ambitious, garagey) songs.
Harpers Bizarre The Secret Life Of CD (Sundazed) By
album three, these cats were so deep into their dreamland that
you half expect Little Nemo to guest star. The romantic, fanciful
numbers, including several standards, are strung together around
old-timey radio play interludes, resulting in a gesamptkunstwerk
of sonic sunshine. This sounds like I remember Venice feeling
The Hives Barely Legal CD (Gearhead) Powerful kitchen
sink punk ‘n’ roll as packed with political thinking as it is
Ramones guitar. If you want one of those "good" headaches,
pick this up pronto.
Ill Wind Flashes 180gm LP (Akarma) 1968 Tom Wilson-produced
debut for country-tinged Boston freak band. The Connie Devanney-sung
tunes especially have an appealing spookiness. I guess after L.A.’s
Standells made such a fuss about that "Dirty Water,"
it was just a matter of time until a Bosstown band responded with
something like "L.A.P.D." Reissue has three extra tracks.
The Immortal Lee County Killers The Essential Fucked
Up Blues CD (Estrus) Down and dirty, these guys sound like they’d
like to party with the Pussy Galore-but not so much heroin and
a lot more Alabama brand rotgut, ’cause they’re nice boys. There’s
only two of ’em, but any more fellas would drink up all the booze.
And the sound is full enough anyway without those whiskey swiping
lazy assholes anyway. Who needs ’em? Burp. (Margaret Griffis)
IOWASKA Vine of Souls CD (Alternative Tentacles) Pretty
interesting release from what appear to be the crusty punks at
a Rainbow Gathering ™ picnic. Quite a varied set of influences
(Crass, Clash, Siouxsie, Black Sabbath among them) scrambled up
into a dark psychedelic, metallic punk. Very Wiccan, yet angry
as hell at all the usual victims of intolerant scorn: men, the
system, Christianity, pollution, greed, circumcision. The high
levels of estrogen will undoubtedly turn off some, but it’s definitely
worth a spin. Street cred alert: Sam used to sing with the Amebix.
Jack & the Beanstalk Cowboys in Sweden CD (Parasol)
Crunchy guitars, catchy teenage melodies and some appealingly
dumb lyrics on this Aussie/Swedish project. "She Drives a
Volvo" sounds like a great lost Hoodoo Gurus track. Bonus
live cuts include a Dictators cover.
The Keepers "Stop Pretending" +2 45 (Butterfly)
This Irish combo has a chunky, summery sound that lends itself
well to their cover of Bobby Fuller’s "Lonely Dragster"
and two high-octane originals.
Jeff Kelly Indiscretion CD (Parasol) Solo project from
the prolific Green Pajamas leader, heavy on the Catholic symbolism
and his trademark longing melodies. I’m never fully convinced
by his processed-sounding rock stuff, which is scattered throughout
this release, among some quite pretty quieter pieces.
King Brothers S/T CD (In The Red) Heavy guitar rock
in the grand tradition of VU, Led Zep, JSBX, but with the shitty
production values of punk rock. You really have to listen to figure
out that the stereo only sounds monophonic. I think the lyrics
are in Japanese, but eerily sound like mumbledy English. The review
so far only seems like I’m panning it, but the CD is pretty good,
as is most of the In The Red catalog. (Margaret Griffis)
Knoxville Girls in a paper suit CD (In the Red) Kid
Congo Powers and pals could be the house band at some down-home
haunted house, playing boozy, bluesy trash with a big old exposed
and bloody heart (see esp. their goofball, "Monster Mash"
take on the Shangri-Las’ "Sophisticated Boom Boom").
The Leaving Trains Emotional Legs CD (Steel Cage) The
Trains’ first recording since the mid-’90s shows Falling James
& co. slipping easily from their unique brand of post-punk
ire to a sweeter pop simplicity, with some old school punk and
metal covers shared out along the way. Smart and sexy.
Les Incapables "1 2 3 4 Succes" 7" EP
(Teen Sound) Francophone quartet from Montréal play surfy
and chaotic, like the party band in a mid ’60s loony bin. Dig
those organ frills on "Twist-A-Rita!"
Les Sexareenos Can You Do The Nose Mustache? 7"
EP (Telstar) Three Jim Diamond-recorded gems (+ one ringer) from
these frenzied proponents of frat/Farfisa lunacy. Fast, fun and
Les Slow Slushy Boys Make Mine Slushy CD (Wildebeest)
Compiling a bunch of these French revivalists hard-to-find Larsen
and Butterfly releases. Some rockers, some gentle crooners, all
with Teen’ Axel’s wacky organ right up front.
Les Slow Slushy Boys "Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah "
+3 45 (Butterfly) Kicks off with a French-language slowpoke carnival
organ take on the cartoon pop classic, followed by three originals
enjoyably echoing the Merseyside stylings of Freddie and the Dreamers.
Recorded dans Toe Rag, Londres.
Jens Lindberg Meets the Strollers 7" EP (Teen Sound)
Sounds like this meeting of the garage minds might’ve culminated
in suicide, at least to judge by the sad sack gloom pervading
these moody rockers.
The Locust Flight of The Wounded Locust CD (GSL)This
is some fucked up shit. Devolved grindcore is what it is. At first
glance, you get typical distorted speed-of-light hardcore, but
then they have the gall to throw in keyboards and make it all
sound "weird" like that. The nerve of them. How dare
they?!? And to think they hail from out-of-the-way San Diego.
Tampa Bay is more like it, but since the invention of airplanes,
diseases have quickly spread around the globe. Eleven songs in
just over ten minutes. I gotta have more. You hear me? One of
the more interesting releases of the year. (Margaret Griffis)
Lost Sounds Black-Wave CD (eMpTy) An evil new wave is
emanating outta the south, sweeping up Jay Reatard and a passel
of spandex-clad cronies. Psychotic synth pop with a fuzzed-out
razor-sharp edge that’ll leave you dizzy and grinning. Nutty stuff!
Only complaint: this kinda record should be precisely 28 minutes
long, not 56.
Mad for the Racket The Racketeers CD (Muscletone) Punk
elders Brian James and Wayne Kramer teamed up with various Blondies,
G’n’Rs and Police for this sometimes shredding, sometimes bizarre
debut. While some of the trad guitar ravers sound kinda rote,
the best are just what you’d want from these guys, and the odd
stuff is smart and enthused enough to keep your interest.
Roger McGuinn Treasures from the Folk Den CD (Appleseed)
Originally available as MP3s on McGuinn’s website, these 18 "field
recordings" reveal the former Byrd hitting the road with
his home recording studio to collaborate on folk and blues standards
with artists like Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Eliza Carthy and Odetta.
Judy Collins helps McGuinn revisit "John Riley," in
a version denser and more mystical than the Byrds’ own. While
some of the arrangements lack spark, overall this is an earthy,
sincere meeting of old and new friends putting aside ego to celebrate
the songs. The booklet includes McGuinn’s reflections on his visits
with the musicians, and Jean Ritchie’s interesting letter about
the derivation of "Fair Nottamun Town."
Dan Melchior’s Broke Review Heavy Dirt CD (In The Red)
Swampy lo-fi punk-blues from this sometime Billy Childish collaborator
and his Anglo/American combo, tastily steeped in Stooge riffage,
garage rock sneer.
M.I.A. Lost Boys CD (Alternative Tentacles) Great classic
hardcore that should be part of everyone’s collection. Punishing
and fast, they were one of the mainstays in the punk acronym scene.
Pretty good comp that includes tracks from the Last Rites for
Genocide & M.I.A. album and Murder in a Foreign Place EP.
It also includes some tasty unreleased, live and rare stuff. Good
for both the curious and the completists. In the words of one
of my skater pals: crucial. (Margaret Griffis)
The Millennium Magic Time: The Millennium/Ballroom Recordings
3-CD box (Sundazed) Break out the insulin before delving into
this impressive collection of pretty much all the (non-Sagittarius)
material put on tape by Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher and Keith Olsen
during their late-sixties sunshine pop collaborations. Includes
demos, scarce singles, unreleased rehearsals and instrumental
backing tracks. Starting out somewhat hesitantly as The Ballroom,
by the time of the Millennium’s Begin album they’d honed their
preciousness to a candy-coated razor’s edge, drenched in studio
artistry, made tougher by the session playing of former Music
Machine members Ron Edgar and Doug Rhodes.
Montage S/T CD (Sundazed) Post-Left Banke Svengali project
from Michael Brown and a young band quite willing to submit to
his Baroque requirements. The shimmery 1969 LP includes reworkings
of the LB’s "Desiree" and "Men Are Building Sand,"
the deliciously old-timey "An Audience with Miss Pricilla
Gray," and much harpsichord-soaked pop sweetness. While less
effortlessly gorgeous than the Banke-the vocals sound like mere
humans, not slumming angels-it’s a pleasant disk sure to please
that band’s many fans. Includes informative notes by Richie Unterberger
and four unreleased tracks.
John Morton Outlier: New Music for Music Boxes CD (innova)
One way to set yourself off in a crowded marketplace is to have
a gimmick. And despite the tiny audience, contemporary concert
music is a crowded marketplace. Composer John Morton has found
himself a promising gimmick: making music with music boxes (usually
multiple boxes at a time, sometimes amplified and processed).
And he does create some good pieces, simultaneously nostalgic
and acerbic, occasionally pretty or mysterious. It is a little
much for one sitting, though, sometimes feeling like you heard
essentially the same thing a couple of tracks back. The one music
box-less piece doesn’t really help matters much, and only makes
the title of the disc less than entirely accurate. (Phil Curtis)
The Mullens Tough To Tell CD (Get Hip) Standard late
’70s power pop. Rough and tumble music that almost never colors
outside the lines. The better songs borrow heavily from the early
’60s. (Margaret Griffis)