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July 23, 2024

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Cruel Corner
By: Clint Darling

MAKESHIFT3 nearly hit the junk heap when I opened the jewelcase of "Game Day" to find a quote from Galatians (is it trendy among these circles to find the most obscure book?) and a testimonial to the unseen hand of God. How about a simple "get off yer asses and be cool to each other"? I'll give 'em points for not hiding the Christian message and being upfront about what they are but I'm not buying the idea of an interactive Higher Power from anybody looking to cash a sawbuck on my internal discontents and these little Christian proselytizers can suck my ass. Their music, on the other hand, is almost good enough to get me to overlook the whiny cross-sucking lyrics. Get out your bushel-baskets, my wee bairns, and hide that goddamned light as if marauding Vikings were pillaging the sanctuary because you're in danger of combining the worst elements of whiny post-Nirvana grunge and Falwell-esque holier-than-thou-ness. But you do rock hard for white college kids who've never had to worry about a meal.

I'd taken Q AND NOT U out in order to listen to the aforementioned disc and just want to reiterate that this is one of the few bands from the East Coast that have really got my ears perking up. Not coincidentally out on Dischord, they are an excellent band with great creative potential. Still young and still a bit artsy, they may be the future of whatever it is they want to spearhead. Listen up!

You couldn't get any further from Makeshift3 than BAD RONALD who start the album with a bong hit and an invitation to "tap the keg and shoot the shit". I'll try this out on a couple of collegiate types and see what they think but this is out on Reprise and the parental advisory barely covers the stink of a major label putting their marketing weight behind this ode to having your Pumas stolen while getting head from a 5'3" underage girl who had "no idea what I was gonna do." Nice. At least some of the women who they run across are old enough but this doesn't make my ass shake enough to warrant it as a keeper. Bleh.

PTL, kiddies, cuz I grabbed HEFNER next and these boys MUST be British with the purest hearts of pop since Ray Davies had the thought that he should raise his lilting accent over a barrage of guitars. Pop pop pop and raw rough gems that stick in your head whether you want them to or not. I particularly enjoyed the line in "we love the city" (song and album title) when he murmurs that "you're my girlfriend, not Molly Ringwald" and exposes himself as a slightly older gent who remembers the brutal reign over the hearts of a generation that was the Mollster. The woman-who-is-not-my-girlfriend will love this collection of paeans to romance and sexy shoes by an overwrought and probably skinny Englishman. Whoopeee!!!

Unable to remember whether I'd listened to it previously (maybe one of those lengthy review-nights with too much coffee?) I slipped KEVIN COYNE back into the rotation and discovered a real enjoyment of the slightly-warped blues of "Room Full Of Fools". I quickly remembered seeing this before but anyone with an interest in Tom Waits or loony tunes by anyone would perk up a bit at the skewed world herein. Ditto with MAGNETIC FIELDS, a silly-pop outfit that joins Hefner and Kevin in a trip to the woman-who-is-not-my-girlfriend's abode.

A resounding "nope" to the MAD DADDY's piss-poor CRAMPS-on-metallic-quaaludes sound. I mean, there's only one Cramps just like there's only one Sonic Youth -- what could possess people to try to out-do the masters of a genre with room for one? "The Age Of Asparagus" is a cute title but not the album that will put this band on anybody's map.

YES! I hit the frikkin' jackpot! An entire collection of dance music from TOMMY BOY records! With the whole electronic-dance thing pretty much a fact of nature anywhere you go and Burning Man on the horizon I really need to inundate myself with repetitive bass beats until my internal organs vibrate sympathetically. Slipping in "the underground" by RHYTHM MASTERS was a bit disappointing after I realized that the entire 31' CD was various interpretations of one "tune", if it can be called that. Lyrics were limited to "it feels good" and "the underground" in a few permutations (i.e., "it SURE feels good" or "THIS IS the underground", ad nauseum).

The Bridget Fonda-ish blonde who is the cover art for "The Best Of Filtered Dance" on Tommy Boy has really perfect nipples and this alone should sell several copies of this greatest-hits-of-the-clubs/ least to suburban boys trying to figure out how to wack off while high on their first meth-as-ecstacy trip. Unlike something like MASSIVE ATTACK or DAFT PUNK, the songs herein are geared solely toward people who are so high that the bass has become their best friend. Oh yeah, dance music is BORING unless you're stoned out of your gourd. Where's my light show, damnit? Too late, that was my dance limit.

POWDERFINGER mine interesting territory for an Ozzie quintet on "Odyssey Number 5". Or maybe there are some historical precedents for Bernard Fannings female-orgasm-inducing voice (a certain kinky-unto-death sex symbol comes to mind) but the band holds up well across a fairly wide spectrum of music to add weight to the vocal smokiness. Somewhere between the sex appeal of INXS and the lyrics of MIDNIGHT OIL, they are radio fodder par excellence.

Like a latin-flavored lollipop, Mexican rappers FIFTH SUN hop into your mouth and proceed to chill.....this white boy thought it was pretty freakin' sexy shit. The CD I heard was just a tease off a probably-out-about-now album and seemed like an excellent choice for a party platter to get the dance movin' and people heatin'.

Reminding me of nothing more than SWELL MAPS, the London kids in EC8OR mine trashy NYC-noise-punk on "The One And Only High And Low" to great effect. My initial reaction to the cover art let me know what I was in for and they didn't let me down -- this is distorted and raunchy and guaranteed to piss off roommates, parents, siblings and friends. In fact, if you listen to this obsessively enough, someone might be moved to stage an intervention in your obviously no-longer-straight'n'narrow life. Punk all the way in an old-fashioned manner that brings a tear of nostalgia to my eyes and makes my loudspeakers quiver in terror, Ec8or are an acquired taste that fit well with early Sonic Youth or Half Japanese.

FROM ZERO suck METALLICA's dick on "One Nation Under" -- crappy arena-metal that just isn't worth the electricity to do a longer review.

Totally worth a longer review and more glowing words than I am physically capable of providing, CARLA HALL's "Front & Center" spotlights her voice to wonderful effect. Recorded in what seems to be a series of small recording studio gatherings (friends & family audience?), her voice is mixed in the title position and left alone to be flawed or even awkward, never fixed, processed and made "better". I don't think her writing is the best and she may be better as an interpreter than composer but The Voice is her selling point and this is its showcase. Wowzah! Get her with some real musicians (cuz as competent as her backing guys's just not great production or ace performances musically) and this girl is going to the top someday. Someday soon.

If the same people play on every song on the album are you compelled to individually name them each song? Such puzzling thoughts occupied the silent spaces between notes on NEILSON HUBBARD's plaintive "Why Men Fail" to which question I have a quick answer -- because they spent all their time on this green earth whining and moaning about how tough it is to be a rockstar of some sort and eventually people got pissed off and started taking the little plastic tag that said 'Neilson Hubbard' out from behind the CD's and flipping it over to the old name (probably Big Black or Little Feat or some other totally discontinued artist) and tossing it across aisle. And then nobody could find your record and you got dropped and that's why you failed. Got it? Oh, and for you completists of various stripes out there, Pete Holsapple, Will Kimbrough and David Lowery all make little appearances on this -- hey, the band is very tastefully sad. Actually, the album gets better and better (and sadder and sadder) as I go and tracks 6 and 7 are absolutely fantastic. You should perhaps fish that little plastic divider out of the Firehouse bin and put it back...c'mon, quick, before someone sees us screwing with it and yells at us! Well, I'm glad I lazed through the opening cut cuz this here disc is great! Hot shit -- it's a keeper!!!

So, wow, "Why Men Fail" has totally colored my evening -- now all of a sudden everything sounds kinda slow and sad and beautiful like a cool summer night with a clear moon shining on the dew in the backyard and a shiver in the air that lets you know that this isn't going to last. Cool.

I don't think that the good mood rubbed off on me for JAMES "SUPER CHIKAN" JOHNSON & THE FIGHTING COCKS album "Shoot That Thang." It's just crazy-good blues. A hippie-esque girlfriend who arrived during this album immediately dropped into a shuffling dance while motioning her hands slowly in the air and grinning at nothing. The effect is universal. This tackles the rote formula of the blues and leaves a deep footprint of its own that I'm overjoyed to hear -- an excellent blues album all the way through and even transcending its own limitations at several points. Plus a comic by HARVEY PEKAR! Sweet!

Well, this is totally biting the hand that feeds me so let's see if our newly-minted media mogul wants to get past the blowjobs and deal with an uppity staff. Alex personally shepherded to me a copy of JOE DAVIS' much-touted solo album, "Hope Chest", and I hate it. The writing is downright awful at points and Joe's voice is not anywhere near strong enough to carry this project. I have these same criticisms of Joe in PINEHURST KIDS, his rrrrriotboy alt.rock production, but at least there they have post-Foo guitar riffs to fall back over. Here Joe's writing and voice isn't up to the task. He's got great rock'n'roll instincts but needs a Bernie to his Elton in order for his success jones to pay off.

And as a final note, I broke down and bought the double-disc ELO retrospective "Strange Magic" thinking that the "extensive liner notes" and superbonus!! tracks might offset the super-discounted price of the "Greatest Hits" package....wrong move. ELO put out huge amounts of suckass crap aping everyone from BTO to AIR SUPPLY before JEFF LYNNE resorted to felching GEORGE HARRISON's outtakes and jerking off to the MOODY BLUES. God what a sorry album. One perfectly good retrospective spread out over a double disc set crammed with the worst period pieces of their time. This stuff was popular? I mean, yeah, "Out Of The Blue" and its associated flying saucer stagepiece get landmark status but the rest of, somebody had awful awful taste. Maybe these are the same people who are all lathered up to buy patchouli-smelling crap from Colorado at record stores everywhere. Maybe these are the people who are responsible for TRAVIS TRITT and EVERCLEAR?? Agh!!

So rush out and buy "Super Chikan" and Neilson Hubbard and by the time you finish ingesting that kind of goodness, I'll be back with more. C'mon, you pussies, send 'em in!! I'll be honest! But when I run out of CD's, I'm retiring. --Clint
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