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July 22, 2024

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Clint Darling's Monthly Column
Love Him or Hate Him...

By: Clint Darling

After deciding to inundate the poor folks at home with double columns at a seemingly nonstop rate, My Evil Overlord (that's you, Alex) just FAILS to mention that he's run out and there isn't one for the new issue??? Jesus, slag a couple bands he has a financial interest in and look what happens....I'll make up for it somehow, massah, pleeez just doan trow me in de ol' briar patch!!

TOBY DAMMIT sounds like fart jokes for the dance crowd. And that's a compliment. I can't identify, grasp or predict a damned thing on this album and that's the way (uh-huh) I like it. "Top Dollar" goes into the new voodoo CD rack for those nights when the pumpin' just can't stop without gettin' weird.

Longtime readers of this column (if there are such beasts) will recall a few choice comments directed toward the loads of material that come my way from Ariel Publicity. Allow me to note that in BRECK & ALAN's "Kissing Rockstars" ep they may finally have something that moves beyond neo-hippie stupidity and finds a bit of originality and wit. Still mining a post-Deadhead groove, B&A veer toward a Waitsian weirdness that sits well on a stormy evening in the Great Northwest. Good production and solid singing and musicianship help this short CD stand out from the crowd.

Do we need a New Jersey version of Belly? PATTI ROTHBERG and her barely-post-hair-metal cohorts seem to think we do. On "Candelabra Cadabra" they strut out the alterna-cock-acousti-rock...I dunno. It's slick, predictable and yet just when I think I can't stand to listen any more they pull off a nice chord change and my little emotional center goes "ahhhhhhh." Like eating a bag of marshmallows, it's not good for you and tastes sicky-sweet even from the start but you do it anyway.

From Badman Recordings comes DAKOTA SUITE with "Signal Hill", a quietly interesting album that walks between some dark places without ever falling into them. Acoustic-y, deliberate and wistful, this should appeal to fans of Freedy Johnston and Red House Painters.

THE OTHER 99 start a song with "everywhere I go I see your face" and I turned it off right there. If you want to hear stilted lyrics, predictable playing and kinda-alt-country-meets-alt-Beatles...well, don't say I didn't warn you. My mate thought they sounded like Toad The Wet Sprocket or The Waterboys neither of which I've ever been able to understand the appeal.

A gem in the pile is SUBZONE "Paranoid Landscape" which is kinda like a big 'fuck you' to Wyndham Hill. Imagine the soundtrack to a really cool movie about intelligent cars with a kickin' pace and that throbbing fuzzbass that you want to have nasty sex during. Somewhere out in the desert is a rave that needs this edge. The Melvins do drum'n'bass? Yeah, man....

David Freel should get enough attention for "everybody wants to know" to turn SWELL from a one-man project into a touring rock'n'roll machine. Perhaps related to the Ben Folds or Grant Lee Phillips vein of self-induced pop, the CD doesn't necessarily lead with its strongest foot but got me hooked by midwa y through the second song. By the third I actually decided not to sell it. Hey, he likes it! Mikey likes it!

It had to happen. Maybe I'm just late on the uptake. First there was Christian Metal (urgh) and then Christian "alternative". Now there's Christian rap. MELODRAMATIC take what might be an elevators' nightmare of half-eaten Bing Crosby tunes and drop the Jah over the top. There's a parental advisory sticker on this puppy but you can hear worse from your local crossing guard -- nothing to be afraid of here, kids, and nothing that will offend your parents...unless your parents encourage you to have taste and sense and an independent thought process.

I don't know what to make of BRASSY's "Got It Made". Like a couple Welsh boys (and girls?) crossing Huggy Bear with The Beastie Boys and looping it out through a Slade cover band. Huh?

Rave reviews at the karaoke bar are not enough reason to be in the music biz but that's about all ALICE TEXAS has going on "Gold", a barely-warm gooey-apple pie of sophomoric lyrics and bad delivery. Ouch.

The first misstep on the eponymous album by JANICE GRACE is her voice. A Blondie-esque techno start is marred with a bland vocal. I tried to get further but it's a bit wordy for dance music and not good enough to stand as singer-songwriter material. Yech.

RED FLAG have been on a steady diet of Depeche Mode for longer than I care to contemplate and this lukewarm dance-goth pap won't win any new fans for them. I can't imagine playing this while sticking a cock in my mouth and who else would listen to this? To be fair, it might do well in the local "alterna" store at the mall.

Imagine (if you will) crossing a talking cow from a mid-day children's show with Edie Brickell and slopping some atonal English accent across the top and you've got DAVID STEINHART's "Clean". Bleh.

A sleazy stripper stomp take on Joe Satriani, the lad(s) in BALLURIO spent their teenage years (which I'll hope aren't far behind them) jerking off to their favorite metal soundtracks and stolen copies of Penthouse. Worse, the songs on "Spider Dance" reflect three fucking years worth of effort. Holy shit, Buttman!

All-American alt-rock (and I really do mean it in a good way) gets a new wide receiver late in the fourth quarter with THE MODIFIERS. "Show And Tell" isn't groundbreaking or amazing but it rocks like the best of firehose or dinosaur jr. The singing isn't strong but I'd like to see 'em live.

I like MANCAKE, too, as they rise up out of some steamy little club to attack and attack again with that old righteous punk fury. I don't think this has been on Alex's desk for two years but "We Will Destroy You" is old and I want to know where they are now. I give this band full points for capturing a long-forgotten sound with exact and honest precision.

MAMMOTH VOLUME both live up to their name and do a good teardown job of uniting the punk bathroom with a post-Sabbath Ozzy kitchen on "a single book of songs by..." which kinda seems like an acid-jazz Helmet. Kinda cool. Kinda strange, actually, but that's not stopping me from pitching this into the rotating stack next to the high-gain stereo. This CD would probably sound best patched directly through a couple hundred-watt heads and into a Marshall 4x12 wired for stereo.

Following in a long long long line of artsily-alternative bands, SUKHOTIN need just a touch more something in the way of their vocal production on "into my ways". I couldn't make it through a single song but liked the music a bit.

I don't know why EASTERN YOUTH have their name in English since almost nothing else on the album gets the lingua franca treatment but this album is pretty damned good in a Dischord-esque vein. I never thought I'd like something sung in Japanese but these guys rise above the language barrier with great musicianship and anthemic vocals that put their emotional point across quite nicely. Yes!!!

A lot of work and wacky seriousness have obviously gone into "Strange And Beautiful" by ANNY. Like a children's program gone badly awry, crossing Abba with equal parts Spice Girls and Sherri Lewis, Anny is obviously in a unique headspace. I know a few folk who would join her at the drop of a hat but I try not to spend too much time with them in case it's catching.

Thanks for listening and remember to send the hate mail or promo kits to my attention -- I promise they'll get what they deserve.

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