Vicious & Mean, Sweet and Generous
By: Clint Darling
Masturbatory white-boy electric blues were expected when I netted WALTER TROUT AND THE FREE RADICALS, "Live Trout", from the stack and I was tempted to throw it back immediately but the musicianship lured me to dip my toes for awhile. But not long. The blues, in some circles, have become a triumph of technical form over emotional substance and while Walter sings with conviction, well....it's not that I've left the blues, it's that the blues have left me. Predictable but flashy guitar solos, excellent yet boring execution by the band.....we've heard all of this before and probably by someone better. Revoke my membership, Walters' blues are not the party for me but if you're a big fan of New Country Radio and want to get in touch with your urban redneck, come on in.
BLOOD OF ROSES "Sangue" starts with a sophomoric sweep that utterly fails to showcase the better side of singer Bird's vocal histrionics and aims for pompous electronic chamber music but fails miserably getting there. The slower, sultrier cuts fare better but while this might possibly interest fans of DEAD CAN DANCE or crushed-on-heroin goth rockers....it just sounds like gloomy ELO to me.
ATC ("A Touch of Class") sets a low bar for themselves on "Planet Pop" -- if the SPICE GIRLS were a bit too intellectual for your taste this might be just the thing to follow up your taxing morning of smoking pot and watching the Teletubbies. Although we've all had days where that seemed like a real stretch this vapid insipid crap should be hunted down and sent to the same doomed planet as A-ha and Olivia Newton-John.
After the preceding bit o'horror, I assumed that I'd find something redeeming in THE GHETTO MONKS "Pop Vulture" but was immediately put off by the production. After a morning spent listening to ICE CUBE and MASSIVE ATTACK the missing low end was really apparent. Is it something in the Northern Waters? Seattle, Minneapolis....hmmmm, not many other Northern hotspots (well, Boston) but none of them seem to work the low end too much. Oh well, l ow end is not really what the Ghetto Monks are about -- reminding one more of a keyboard-y MOTHER LOVE BONE with a few less histrionics (but just a few). I keep coming back to the very standard production....I keep wishing for things to move a little apart and not step on one another so badly. There's a lot that could be done with this album but...just wasn't.
Look, I hate violins. I've only ever heard a single violin player that made it seem interesting and she was so gorgeous that it's hard to disassociate my hormonal response from whether it was really any good or not. CATHODE BOB does not do themselves any favors by opening "Threadbare" with a repetetive guitar plunk and bad violin. And as a repeat offender in this category I know bad lyrics when I hear them. Let's not ever write a song again that begins "Why do you say what you do when I do those things I do."
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!! I've said a few, uhm, unkind things about Ariel Publicity in past columns but I thought I'd try this one, a whatever-you-call-dance-music-these-days piece by a band called CHOLA. Beside the fact that their website put me into some kind of commercial solicitation hell, this noodling funkmetal-with-bongos was so overtly offensive that I'm just going to move directly to my previously stated policy of trashing anything sent by this agency. They have suckass taste.
Well...OBVIOUS have a violin in the credits. I'm plowing ahead anyway and I have not yet heard anything that sounds like a drawn string although the opening bass rattled everything smack off the walls with no encouragement on my part. Ahhh, here come the strings....an orchestral mood and a solid-state guitar overdrive make the opening cut sound like metal-noodlers from Wyndham Hill. That was a shitty guitar solo. I'll wait for vocals before I give up, though. I'm a sucker for a good male-female vocal duo and the credits call for one to show up sometime (hopefully before the three minute mark). Oh boy. I have to send this to my friend, Todd. He'll really like this. It's overblown crap by people who should never be allowed to rent studio time or live in anything that could have enough space to put one in a closet. This is the kind of crap we're encouraging with the Home Studio Revolution and let me just tell ya' that talent is not a purchasable commodity. Yech.
Please oh please let this be good. ROACHPOWDER promise a lot on the cover and HALLELUJAH!! they deliver the goods on "Atomic Church". This totally reminds me of the first BIG CHIEF album or a really good bout of stoner rock.. Like BLACK OAK ARKANSAS listening to waaay too much late-80's SST back catalog. Mind you, I wouldn't choose to listen to this every day or first thing in the morning but I gotta give credit where credit is due and this is long-haired buttrock done in a way I can respect. TED NUGENT would love these guys before hunting them across the midwest armed only with his wits and a sharpened rock. This is the local band that opened for SOUNDGARDEN on the Badmotorfinger Tour and never forgot.
The fact that this is an album done by a drummer is made far more palatable with the discovery that the drummer in question is TOM STALEY from NRBQ and "Twitchin' 'n The Kitchen" serves up a heapin' headful of 20? deviated stomp. Almost straying into old Young Fresh Fellows territory or maybe into current Young Fresh Fellows territory...that nebulous land full of great musicians who have somewhere misplaced their zeal for something new and interesting and are content to make the song they've always made. Individually each track would go well with something else but as an album it's a bit much.
The cover art on "Room Full of Fools" sucked me into the world of KEVIN COYNE and I had a moment of hopefulness before they riffed that flicker out of existence. This album is soooo close to being good that I found myself really rooting for them to cross that line and salvage themselves. But it's not to be. They just don't have the reach. Kevin's is an interesting vision and certainly worth checking out. Much like the last CD, the songs here would stand out better if mixed with others work but fall a bit flat when piled on top of themselves. I'm imagining Kevin as the British/Blues version of Brian Wilson. Smile, Kevin.
FLYING BLIND are a cut-rate "alterna" band being pushed by some pus-filled suit at a shitty record label. Their album "push" should be held up and mocked for trend-jumping by every Wal-Mart shopper before being thrown back into the discount bin it was found in.
This is just a horrible pile of crap. Will I ever get to the bottom of it??? BOTTLEFLY look like an "alterna" version of Boys2Men (I mean, really....where do they find 18-year olds this cute?) To their credit, the vocal harmonies might remind me of JELLYFISH but the content just isn't there. Look, kids, this isn't so much "bad" as it just doesn't hold up to a higher standard. Yep, it's pop music and I suppose there's no law against crap on the radio but...but....but...oh shit, better take it off quick....I'm starting to enjoy this shit. It's like doing housework while playing early MADONNA.
Not even the vocals remind me of DEAD MILKMEN but BURN WITCH BURN does feature RODNEY ANONYMOUS whose previous claim to fame is the aforementioned. This is weird. It's like a...like...it's as if....shit. OK. Let's try again. Imagine THIN WHITE ROPE doing something fun with ENYA and then veering off to have dinner and smoke a bowl with FAITH NO MORE who are busy trying to learn to play mandolin with VAN MORRISON. See? You think it's easy to just rattle off some train of consciousness that clearly indicates what someone is doing with their music, don'tcha?
Can't write any more bad reviews. Must flee the house. Find Walkman and load up something right and decent and good. A little Yo La Tengo, a bit of National Skyline, more Wilco and maybe something from the local grab bag....ahhh, some Dharma Bums will make my bike ride better. And maybe this tape of 1920's British musicals. See y'all next time.
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