Why Does Clint Have Such A Reputation For Being Mean?
By: Clint Darling
There isn't much additional information on the CD for "1/3 less fun" by MONKEY TO THE MONSTER but I'm guessing that they are a Portland band and I suppose I can bestir myself to visit the website (cleverly, www.monkeytothemonster.com) and find out what makes these kids tick. Although the opening cut wasn't the strongest on the album it kept me listening long enough to get into the meat of things. Sounding like a much less poppy VELOCITY GIRL (I know, I know, I need to have another guy-girl-indie band to compare people to but VG was soooo good when they were on) or a much more upset SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER, MttM have the talent and ambition to get somewhere. The perennial question, of course, is what kind of market is there for slightly-artsy chick-centric indie-rock? My guess is that these guys play a bit harder live and can hold an audience but the disc suffers from too much perusal. As a side-note, a quick run out to the Web confirmed that they are Portlanders and that bass player Cheryl was formerly with POLECAT, an aggressively-emo rock outfit from Seattle.
BUFFALO NICKEL give it away on the cover of "Long [33 1/3] Play" -- cowboy hats and open collars, a vaguely country jangle backed with slide and some heavy punch, songs of gettin' busted and spendin' the night in jail. Oddly, the chord changes reminded me of SOUNDGARDEN for a minute or two, just without the distortion. These guys might make it as openers for some hotter country-rock act but they rock like stars, just that it's all one big cliche behind the excellent playing. OK, you're a rockstar now what're you gonna do?
"Move Yourself" by LIVE HONEY had me ready to get up and move on the opening cut but the tumultuous opening settled in to a rollercoaster featuring the vocals of Shelly Bhushan and a weird harmonica interlude...I hate harmonica. Too much harmonica. STOP WITH THE HARMONICA ALREADY!! When these guys swing through the NW they should pick up the (late?) KEN DEROUCHIE BAND for some like-minded white-funkness.
Los Angeles's THE HANGMEN have a new disc out and on "Metallic IOU" they do what they do the way they do it. Slick production puts a shine on what appears to me to be the exact same album they released the last time or the time before that. Congrats, boys (and girlz now), but this....well, I remember The Hangmen from a pair of shows here in Portland sometime toward the end of the 80's. Satyricon was their first foray out of LA after having been signed in the wake of the "next Guns'n'Roses" frenzy. The band ran through 20 minutes of obviously-Slash-inspired bluesy-grunge and were pretty good. They were kind enough to throw me a copy of their cassette and I remarked to them that it seemed like they had just played everything on it. "Yeah, man, that's our set. That's all we know," was the reply. When it came time for the show they had to play their set twice to get anywhere near filling the hour slot they had. Yikes! Their return visit to Portland was at Blue Gallery and this time around they had a handler whose main job appeared to be trying to keep them from overdosing long enough to get onstage and play another short set. I swear that this album is exactly the same set. Plodding, repititious rawk that should embarrass them into getting jobs at gas stations. I would have assumed that they'd have done it long ago.
I don't really enjoy country music at all and lyrics like "the last time I was in Amarillo I stayed up until dawn" don't endear THE GREAT DIVIDE to me at all. "Afterglow" is well-produced and many people will enjoy it. I do not. But then creativity has never been a criteria for enjoying country music for most of its fans. "Straight as a shooting star falls across the midnight skies" agh.
Somebody please tell me if I'm on the right track with this but I'm not even going to unwrap "now you see inside" by SR71. It goes straight to resale. It features "hits" and the four guys are pretty-boys who don't look like they've stressed out about anything lately. Bye bye.
Also in the "no chance" category is this religious crap from KATE CAMPBELL. Alex, cull the preachy discs before you drop these off -- I took it into the backyard after about a minute of flicking through "rejoice to see...blah blah blah" lyrics and blew the fuck out of it with some black powder and some old bricks. Wash my sins away, indeed. On "Wandering Strange" Kate's JOAN BAEZ-lite moaning couldn't wash away a paper hat. If The Lord wanted his people to tiptoe around rejoicing and washing in such muted tones, why did he BLOW UP CITIES?? Huh? Huh? Let's get some fucking BALLS on this redemption shit.
The only reason I opened "Scuffletown" by ERIC TAYLOR was the recommendation by STEVE EARLE that was prominently displayed and that kind of shove-it-in-your-face marketing works wonders because this is a great disc in the vein of a serious-minded LYLE LOVETT or well-produced LEO KOTTKE. Great late night drinking music. And way more cajones about God than the whiny bitch from the last CD. This is a keeper.
BOILER ROOM feature a fairly predictable industro-agg-metal approach on "Can't Breathe" but the real item of interest here is the number of endorsements they have from the various equipment manufacturers. Why is it that all these creativity-free metalheads get all the cool gear? OK, these guys are players but they're not doing anything we haven't heard six times before. Who endorsed PAVEMENT on their first album? That's what I thought. Maybe paperclip makers and gaffe tape retailers should band together to sponsor some weirdly brilliant next-Tom Waits sort of group. Now there's an idea.....in the meantime, file this disc under Plays Radio Station Festival Second Stage.
In the exact same vein come 6GIG with "tincanexperiment" although they add echo to their vocals (ooooh, cool). Arena-ready, this visionless shit is destined to rile up a bunch of faggot jocks to rape each other in the moshpit as they prove how cool they are to their Barbie Doll girlfriends. What a fucking waste of time. Next.
And before anybody gets all carried away about me slagging their new fave shit-metal band, let me just point out that neither of these records passed my litmus test -- in order to get a rave out of me, your NuMetal dipshits are going to have to hit harder than HELMET, SOUNDGARDEN's "Badmotorfinger" and/or (get ready) godfathers of shock, LIMP BIZKIT (hey, I do not care for them but I give 'em some respect for doing something almost-different at the time).
On a different tack altogether, RECKLESS KELLY chug along like a country mood John Deere tractor stuck in first gear on "the day". Neither the writing or vocal delivery are as good as the playing but these guys look pretty dang young and there'll be better to come from them if they survive this.
Well. Production certainly isn't an issue with DEAD MEADOW. From the opening note of whatever-it-is, their BLUE CHEER-meets-early-SABBATH wall of noise plods along like some kind of acid flashback drone. The only reason I took the cellophane off was because there's a cover of "Rocky Mountain High" at the end of the album and I figured that if it was a serious homage it could be pretty funny but now I assume that it's going to be even more amusing. Let's go see, shall we....wow, as I flip through this the production makes those first couple MEAT PUPPETS albums sound downright slick. Ahhh, here it is, I think....nope, not the song I was hoping for...just another version of "Faeries Wear Boots" without the authoritative vocals. This is hilarious. Everyone should have this. The attempt at an eerie ZEPPELIN-esque wail is beyond humor.
KEVIN DEAL is from Texas. "Kiss On The Breeze" sucks.
THE VERBAL ASSASSINS lay it down (hmmm, I'm already going there, huh?) on "The Black Usual Suspects" and, well, it's not that great. The production doesn't stand up with the standard in its genre and the vocals have a layer of digital-conversion distortion that don't do them any favors. It just doesn't sound affected enough or good enough. To quote, "fuck it, man."15
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