Angry Samoans - The '90s Suck and So Do You
The Chemical Brothers - Surrender
Chrome Locust - Chrome Locust
Gamma Ray - Power Plant
Garmarna - Vengeance
Godflesh - Us and Them
Godgory - Resurrection
Hot Rod Honeys - Horny and Hungry
Imminent Starvation - Nord
Iron Monkey/Church of Misery - We've Learned Nothing
Joy Division - Preston 28 February 1980
Juno - This is the Way it Goes and Goes and Goes
Liquid Soul - Make Some Noise
Lost Goat - Equator
Lowercase - The Going Away Present
Night To Die - All Evil Crying
Nine Inch Nails - "The Day the World Went Away"
Marc Olsen - Didn't Ever...Hasn't Since
Pissing Razors - Cast Down the Plague
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
Sympatico - Sympatico



[ angry samoans - the '90s suck and so do you ]
Angry Samoans
The '90s Suck and So Do You
Triple X Records

Links:
Angry Samoans

The Angry Samoans are still hanging around, and I thought they had solo projects and quadratic equations to work out! Metal Mike and Bill Vockeroth have come around to treat us to another round of craziness. However this time around the Angry Samoans aren't quite so angry! They seem to be going through the motions, but lacking the spunk they once had. They have some drive to them, but Mike and Co. haven't seemed to put the Buzzsawness back in the right places. Most of the songs have been slowed down quite a bit. No more speed and zaniness, no more pissed directedness towards anyone, just, I hate to say it, sad love songs. Has Mike found the meaning to his emotions in his songs? Not to say he never had emotion; but he never had this soft sappy romanticizing of hearts being broken. The songs themselves are OK, but they seem to have a lethargic quality to them. Some are bordering on... Think for a minute of the slower love songs the Ramones have on their earlier LPs, only not as good. This might get you closer to what is represented here. Maybe this is Mike's solo stuff with the Samoans label slapped on it. I don't know. I'm a big Angry Samoans fan and was not terribly excited over this, so I would say to tread with caution.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ chemical brothers - surrender ]
The Chemical Brothers
Surrender
Astralwerks

Links:
Chemical Brothers

Ok kiddos, ditch the Ritalin and let your short attention spans run rampant. Loop gurus The Chemical Brothers are at it again with another slice of funked up electro-trance. As per tradition, this time Brothers Chem are more moody, melodic, and vocal. Yet breaking tradition by trading some of the b-boy funk injection with darker, more introspective pieces.

And again, vocal guests are a highlight with Bernard Sumner (New Order), Noel Gallagher (Oasis) and the unlikely Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star).

The vocal numbers reveal the shortcomings of DJs actually trying to write songs. Rowlands and Simons really shine though when they keep it simple and instrumental. On the opening track they swap trade secrets with Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot for a stone-cold jam which travels all over Devo territory. The first single "Hey Boy Hey Girl" is a viciously sequenced slam that is going to have ravers and MTVers alike running for the fire extinguisher.

As with any form of electronica, repetition is its ally and foe. Which is where without an attention span the length of say...Joe Pesci's temper, Surrender tends to get away from you. Where it becomes background filler until the next killer loop.

-Jeff Ashley
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[ chrome locust ]
Chrome Locust
Chrome Locust
Tee Pee/MIA Records
Uh-oh another big new thing coming out of New York City. Such ominous words recently have accompanied heavily hyped flops unlike the early days of NYC rock. Bands like Ramones, Blondie, Warzone, Richard Hell, Civ, Pillbox NYC, Murphy's Law, Fleshtones, Mumps, Television, Sick Of It All, Shoes, Dictators and D-Generation have had this tag hung on them. Some were great, some sucked--you decide the genius or the gunk. Chrome Locusts have a heritage that includes participation in D-Generation, Murphy's Law and Agnostic Front. The Chrome Locusts play a punk-metal hybrid that is quite catchy without being wimpy or annoying (things that D-Generation couldn't escape), however they are a little generic. They have a formula, it's a poppy metal punk that has bit of rock and roll to it. I would compare them to a more punk Cheap Trick or a '90s alternative Fleshtones. This doesn't rock my world like Electric Frankenstein or Electric Wizard, but it rocks and you can sing along with the Locusts. Obvious influences range from Ramones and Murphy's Law to Kiss, Cheap Trick and AC/DC. This is definitely modern and catchy, but it has elements of old school punk (guess it's the lineage of the band) and it has dignity. The production is clear and strong and the music isn't crap except "The Cycle of Birth and Death." Favorite cuts are "Ain't No Love," "Drop," "Teendream" and "M.I.A." Chrome Locust may not shine as bright as the Ramones, but I would say they have half a chance to be a college radio fixture. God knows this beats the heck out of Live, Stone Temple Pilots or Pearl Jam. Oh yeah, the cover is my nominee for most phallic of the year.

-Sabrina Wade Haines
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[ gamma ray - power plant ]
Gamma Ray
Power Plant
Noise Records

Links:
Gamma Ray

Kai Hansen defects from Helloween to form the more-polished Gamma Ray which will rule the rapidly reducing world of commercially-smooth and synchronized power metal. This is German power metal replete with a high-pitched frontman very reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson and whammy bar-controlled guitars set on stun. Come to think of it, the band sounds a whole lot like Iron Maiden. The licks, the riffs, the hooks all shot out of a blazing hot guitar at an '80s galactic speed. Not to mention those operatic group choruses. If you spend your days pining away for '80s-styled metal, this is your fix. I must admit that "Heavy Metal Universe" is an excellent song---nice and catchy. I think the Pet Shop Boys cover ("It's a Sin")is a bit odd, but they took a chance and it didn't turn out half bad. I swear a portion of "Anywhere in the Galaxy" sounds like it came from "Flashdance"--that's how '80s this disc sounds. If you enjoy Iron Maiden, Iced Earth or the Scorpions, this would be the perfect cd for your collection. If you have a hair-metaller at home, it will provide hours of wholesome entertainment for him or her, but it's a little high-pitched for me. I prefer growlers to competent singers. If commercial metal comes back like the prognosticators are predicting, these gentlemen will be front and center. This is good enough to blast away the crap supplied on radio these days. I'd rather listen to Gamma Ray than Korn on any given day.

-Sabrina Wade Haines
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[ garmarna - vengeance ]
Garmarna
Vengeance
NorthSide

Links:
Garmarna

What's your definition of folk music? Does it include hurdy-gurdy, e-bow, samples and loops? It does for Sweden's Garmarna, in addition to bass, guitar, and a variety of drums and strings (primarily violin). They're the kind of folk band who doesn't believe traditional music was meant to be preserved as it was ages ago, but taken to heart and made your own, of the moment. Fortunately, others seem to agree: their previous album, Guds Spelemän, won the 1996 Swedish Grammy for best folk album, and their debut Vittrad was nominated in 1994.

With Vengeance, the band has taken a giant leap forward with their electronics gear (greatly assisted by producer Sank, the band's "sixth member"), and put it right in your face with the first track, "Gamen/Vulture." After a brief fade-in to lull you, it jumps right for the jugular with driving drums fading fore and back, throbbing bass, and an addictive hurdy-gurdy/violin riff. Coupled with the first layering of Emma Härdelin's voice I could recall, it was not what I had been expecting of Garmarna; it knocked me back and dropped my jaw--I actually had to replay the song before I could continue.

The rest of the album is more in line with their earlier work, yet still steps forward. The lyrics are kin to the original versions of Grimm's fairy tales--dark, brooding, and familiar with stepmothers, witches, and maidens betrothed to princes. Those kinds of lyrics may irritate or intrigue, but the fact that they're all sung in Swedish means it's not that crucial to the majority of us English unilinguals. Starting from a quiet gothic calm, the title track ("Vedergällningen/Vengeance") builds into a squeal of "refuge" from an impending thunderstorm provided by a tin shed. "Bläck/Ink" is simple and elegant, "Euchari" light yet driving, with electronic drums and walking bass; but overall, Garmarna's music continually reminds me of the ocean: vast, undulating, a stark loneliness, with glimpses of large oarboats emerging from the mists. It's very easy to lose yourself staring off to such boundless horizons.

-Paul Goracke
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[ godflesh - us and them ]
Godflesh
Us and Them
Earache

Links:
Avalanche (Official Website)
Crumbling Flesh

Him and Me: The Godflesh review

Steve: Hey, I got the new Godflesh, Us and Them. What do you think? Justin is quoted as saying: "In true rock fashion we've shot our load in the first round" on the song "I, Me, Mine"? Well, I think they might have been "Genius," maybe taking samples from the end of the last PSI album on this song.

Mark: The genius part beyond putting the load-shooter up front is actually culling together enough scraps to make up 11 more songs that are actually listenable. Sure, "I, Me, Mine" has got leftovers from other places (including a touch of the Lo-Fibre feel), but it is a tasty sweet treat for us cavity seekers. The boys even bring out the drill for the next hour's enjoyment.

Steve: The title track would fit in well on the Street Cleaner album. With its calling vocals crushing guitar with the little lead parts of discontent. G.C. Green's throbbing wicked bass lines fill the room with creeping despair.

Mark: There's a measured bombast to this album. A steady pace that relentlessly moves across you. It's like being crushed by a huge boulder that is shifting ever so slowly across your body. Take "Witchhunt." There's a measured inevitability to the song, this realization that you can run until you are past the point of exhaustion, but when you look back, your heart pounding in your mouth, Godflesh is still coming, steady and purposeful. The crushing dirge of our own mortality.

Steve: I see what you're saying, the song "Defiled" has this drum and bass...throbbing, churning, dirge steamrollering over the top of that huge rock you have shifting over you. Then the next song has this Godflesh rock sludge that seems to start the agonizingly crushing process from your toes making its way to your cranium, leaving you with this "Bittersweet" taste in your mouth.

-Mark Teppo / -Steve Weatherholt
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[ godgory - resurrection ]
Godgory
Resurrection
Nuclear Blast
Brrrzapp! This hits so hard...this is powerful and potent symphonic death metal. No, actually it is much more than that. Matte Andersson's vocals are so emotive--oozing passion and pain filtered through the haze of the dark world he's entrapped within. Like a compassionate and deeply-pained demon wishing for just one more chance, but resigned to dwell in hell. Andersson and partner Erik Andersson (nope, not brothers) form a beautiful duo that merges melodic death metal (ā la Hypocrisy) with Symphonic metal (ā la Septic Flesh or older Tiamat) with heavy industrial (Skin Chamber) for a truly heavy and harrowing metal all their own. Session musician Mikael Dahlqvist is just perfect on guitar, adding some of the most exquisite guitarwork that I've ever heard. His range is amazing--from acoustic ("Waiting for Lunacy to Find Me") to power metal ("Crimson Snow") to death metal ("My Dead Dreams"). The Anderssons assembled an incredible session cast to complement their vocals and drums. Erik's drumming varies with the emotion and flow of the song--he can go strong ("Collector of Tears") or soft ("Adultery") depending on the mood of the song. I sense Godgory is still searching for the perfect sound to articulate their pain. If they find it, I can only imagine how would sound--terrifying and intense. They say only music can soothe the savage beast--let them play as long as they want.

Beginning with the intense industrial metal of "Resurrection," Resurrection roars away from the pack. "Crimson Snow" features Dahlqvist's speedy power metal-styled guitar and growling, lurching vocals scathing the media and public over the glorification of serial killers with a sentimental song of pain and death in the crimson snow. Both Matte Andersson and Fredrik Olsson write the lyrics. "Adultery" explodes in an acoustic nightmare over the passionate and putrid relationship of prostitute and master. These tales are not sick or exploitative, but deeply saddening and very poetic. Andersson makes Lou Reed look like a documentary. "My Dead Dreams" rocks hard and deathly like a more-stylized and far-more catchy Opeth. "My Dead Dreams" rules Resurrection with a story about the loser we never want to be but sometimes feel like standing in the rain--it's there to remind us of the consequences of our actions. "Death in Black"--a touching, gothic ode to death, the "harvester of life." "Collector of Tears" tears up the industrial landscape with huge shards of metal ā la Meshuggah or Theory In Practice. "Waiting for Lunacy to Find Me" is a soft, sick, acoustic nightmare about the end and its inevitability. It is also a showcase for Matte's most amazing vocal performance this disc. "Princess of the Dawn" presents a smooth gothic-death metal masterpiece that will scare the hell out of you. It could be a soundtrack for a truly cool horror flick--grab your rosary and pray the night away. Plus it contains some of Dahlqvist's most impressive guitar strumming.

Resurrection includes a bonus track "Conspiracy of Silence" a quiet, moody acoustic monster. "Inside my secret place, in the dark, I hide from you" just communicates a portion of the pain hiding in this song that will melt your heart and probably burn your soul just a little bit. Mine eyes have seen the dawning of a new metal monster and its name is Godgory.

-Sabrina Wade Haines
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[ hot rod honeys - horny and hungry
Hot Rod Honeys
Horny and Hungry
Man's Ruin
Coming out of Belgium this dirty punk rock has come boiling over with a cross between the Dwarves and The Ramones. They are not as polished as the Ramones and a little nicer than the Dwarves. Horny and Hungry has 17 tracks of straight-forward early '80s punk rock. I get the feeling the Hot Rod Honeys would have come out of New York or L.A. if they lived in the States. I can't say that this is all original, but the Honeys can churn out an effectual groove here and there. The more I listen to this the better it sounds. The music is three chords of cigarette smoking, black leather jacket and blue jeans wearing fun. With song titles like these: "Who's Gonna Burn the Shithouse," "Call Me Scumbag," and "Love and the Ramones," how could you go wrong? My favorite track is number 6, "Fourteen Years of Rock and Roll," with its driving Chainsaw guitars and this bouncy hook that grabs you and says, "bob your head, damn it!"

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ imminent starvation - nord ]
Imminent Starvation
Nord
Ant-Zen

Links:
Imminent Starvation

I recently took advantage of a roadtrip out to Montana to get caught up on some music. As I crossed the Washington/Idaho border heading east on I-90, Imminent Starvation's Nord slipped into the CD player. One of several projects by Olivier Moreau, Nord begins with the fractured wail of ancient sirens which have sounded well past the manufacturer's recommended lifespan of the internal speakers. My breathing syncs with the repetitive relentlessness of the crescendoing sirens. My body begins to hunch down lower in the seat and I start to lose touch with my legs, losing distinction between myself and the steady hum of the tires against the worn asphalt. The pummeling pistons of "Tentack One" begin, my heart hammering in my chest; my peripheral vision starts to streak--the tall trees on the left side of the road smearing. My speakers chatter with the cacophony of fractured metal and the last wheeze of the sirens of "Nor." I've just lost track of the color yellow. My hands seem welded to the steering wheel. Coeur d'Alene Lake is a long, glittering oil stain dulled by the biomechanical static of "Lost Highway (Exit)." The air raid drone echoing in the backseat makes me look to the sky for the deadly shape of the bleak bombers. I have stopped seeing the other vehicles on the road as transports of human flesh; I have started to read license plates like bar codes, translating the series of numbers and letters into simple codes which tell me the raw contents of the other metal containers on this conveyer belt. The bombers begin their run during "Of," peppering the highway with ground burst bombs which pop like pods of white noise, strewing flaming static across the road. The car--I--weave and snake, an agonizing rattle coming from under the hood, and then I am through, the bombers behind me, the echo of their armament fading until it is a sub-tonal rumble behind me. I can no longer remember my name. I can only translate the reversed sequence of the VIN displayed in the lower corner of my viewscreen. That is who I am. 7VNI. A light pulses within my chin. Number twelve. Last time I visited the dentist, he replaced the root with a tiny bulb, the cap red with the thin film of blood still flowing through it. It draws less than a volt from my heart, blinking in my lower jaw. The road beneath my wheels comes through the speakers as a rumbling, boiling static hiss. I flash through Mullan and there--not far from the road--is a tall mill astride a single track of rail. A flywheel turns at the peak of the mill and its rate is the same as the belt which draws air into my lungs. "Ire" thrashes and burns, lifting me up from the valley. I am chrome and steel and wire and fiberglass. My antenna picks up signals as I cross the Continental Divide. The squeal of long range radio waves. "Please contact us. We are your friends." I cross the peak of the Rockies and into Montana. I am contraband, flying low into the farmlands. I am static and frenzy, my rough hour come round at last.

-Mark Teppo
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[ iron monkey/church of misery - we've learned nothing ]
Iron Monkey/Church of Misery
We've Learned Nothing
Man's Ruin

Links:
Iron Monkey

This split disc has tracks taken from each band's limited 10" release. First up is Iron Monkey giving us their doom with extremely tortured painful lyrics and some grind growls. Their doom bounces from slow to more sped up tormented slabs of granite. The first track clocks in at just under 10 painful minutes of slow blood-spilling skinning of the beast. Well, I could say that the second track continues narrowly along that same sludgy path. Iron Monkey's last track is more in the vein of tuned down sped up chunks of rock with insane fucked up vocals. Church Of Misery then comes kicking in with three tracks of their own. One of them is an extra bonus track. This band sounds like a slowed down version of Sabbath excluding Ozzy and keeping the rest of the band with all of its elements down to the three fingered Iommi Leads, wah-wah pedal manipulations, and fingers of flying Geezer Butler. Imagine that and then add more THC then fade and fuzz your way into the abyss leaving behind the Satan-hating Christians. Hail to the Doom Guitar God Tony.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ joy division - preston ]
Joy Division
Preston 28 February 1980
New Millennium Communications

Links:
Joy Division

Joy Division live, 1980. Let me start out with the quote from the liner notes: "This is not a memento, this is a Gig. This is not a souvenir or shifty 'not the best of.' This is a gig. This is not bootleg chic, this is just a gig. Just a gig by one of the greatest bands that ever lived and wrote and played." This here disc captures some of the amazing sounds from one of these short-lived bands that never seems to go or fade away--timeless music by the forerunners of the doom and gloom scene. Well, I wouldn't put them quite there. Yes, as Ian became more involved in the interworkings or subconscious pathways inside himself, the music took on a darker bleaker quality. They rest of the band also must have been swallowed up in his state of mind. Their music absolutely complemented his frenetic condition. I'm jealous of the few that were lucky enough to have witnessed this band live. This foursome would probably scare the bejesus out of you live, though. The dark shadows and eerie haunting music is coated in the dementia of their minds. This isn't the lighter more colorful New Order by any stretch, but more like the furthest reaches of the dark side of you. My ex-girlfriend could not handle their music. She would always tell me to turn it off. I couldn't, though--I was hooked. Buy any of their discs and listen to them with the lights off and lots of volume. When the disc is done, repeat again and then tell me this isn't some of the best music out there! With Preston, we are treated to 12 tracks of vintage Joy Division. The quality of this disc is superb. This is a very well-mastered live show. Patrick Bird for Sound Discs and Carlton Sandercock for NMC should be congratulated for their exceptional work on this piece. The only bitch I have is the import price of $26, ouch! But it is money well spent. Check them out and see what I mean.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ juno - this is the way it goes and goes and goes ]
Juno
This is the Way it Goes and Goes and Goes
Pacifico-Desoto Recordings

Links:
Juno

With a three guitar attack akin to the neurosis of Pink Floyd having finally arrived on the dark side of the moon, Juno's full-length debut is a masterpiece that almost did not happen. Having the album already in the can, while snowboarding this past winter singer/guitarist Arlie Carstens suffered four broken neck vertebrae that left him pretty much immobilized for a good part of this year and left the future of the band in doubt. However, it's good to report both Carstens and the band are doing fine and of late have been back into the groove of properly busying themselves in support their release. A long time coming for this record, but well worth the wait; This is the Way it Goes and Goes and Goes is heady dissonance awash in the reverb and feedback of grainy guitars, a concussive rhythm section that deftly shifts time signatures, and lyrics that jealously scratch at the belly of our own disowned and dyslexic darkness.

With songs breaking the ten minute mark, Juno take their time in building these stories, slowly adding parts and textures...adding and replacing...building tension like the slow turn of the rack. It's easy to find yourself lost on dark, boiling seas; adrift on the riff of a particular guitar, slowly being washed under by each successive wave. And as you sink further you look up and hear Carstens' vocals--dark lyrical stabs from just above the surface--there to remind you that you're sinking ever deeper into its black depths and that the ocean isn't as inviting as you once thought. The only reprieve comes in the form of the Jen Wood's voice on "A Listening Ear." But again, she is like a siren: her soft voice drawing you in as the music slowly drowns you. Listening to This is the Way it Goes... is like waking up in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat, trying to come to terms with the fears that prowl the edge of your dreams, worried that they all might be true; Juno prove it to be so.

-Craig Young
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[ liquid soul - make some noise ]
Liquid Soul
Make Some Noise
Ark 21

Links:
Liquid Soul

Presuming this would be another band whose style of funk would come off like a smooth jazz, Tonight Show hybrid, I was a bit skeptical about how I should treat Liquid Soul's Make Some Noise. After all, this 10-piece ensemble performed at President Clinton's inauguration and were the house band for one of Dennis Rodman's birthday parties. Plus singer vocalist Simone is Nina's (Simone) daughter. Christ, even the album title is a cliché. But I gave it a shot. Actually, several. With more listens, I found the grooves really tight, the flow really smooth and overall not so bad. The opener "Threadin' the Needle" sets the tone for the album with its syncopated horn section, killer sax lead and call-and-response segments. Props are given when due: "Salt Peanuts/Chocolate Covered Peanuts" credits Dizzy Gillespie. This number takes bop and adds a funk feel to it with a good flow from rapper Dirty MF. "Cabbage Roll" has The Godfather of Soul JB's "More Peas" looped under the reggae dancehall groove. Though my standards for neo-funk is pretty high, Make Some Noise doesn't profess to revolutionize funk or soul, it's simply fun party music and I could easily bet Liquid Soul's live show would be a blast.

-Hope Lopez
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[ lost goat - equator ]
Lost Goat
Equator
Man's Ruin
Upon seeing the Lost Goat promo sleeve cover I thought of some sort of Satanic Metal band. Well, was I wrong. Instead, Lost Goat are boogie rock from Hell sounding like the rocking parts of Blue Öyster Cult with Geddy Lee (Rush) wailing away to his boogie nights content. The bio says they are night stalkers lost in time. Well yes, these guys are definitely lost in the mid-'70s "Monster Rock" thing, but with a quirkiness that I can't quite describe. They have the boogie going with lots of dark whining leads. Maybe I'll call it Boogie Deathrock (remember you heard it here first!). The bio also says that Lost Goat are recommended for adolescents. Well, I wouldn't think so, but they might enjoy this since they did not have to live through the '70s the first time. Think more along the line of mid-'70s mall parking lot boogie drinking nights, car stereos blasting the latest AOR band, and sick kids doing evil things to dead cats that have festering maggot innards. Maybe Lost Goat sounds like how it would feel to get hit in the face by that maggot-infested cat. If you're into this type of evil, then go check out Lost Goat.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ lowercase - the going away present ]
Lowercase
The Going Away Present
Punk In My Vitamins?
Forget to remember why you hated maudlin alt-rock bands and give listen to Lowercase's most recent release, The Going Away Present (Punk In My Vitamins, 1999). Without striving to sound banal like most commercial alt-rock, Lowercase stays true to ol' school post-punk emocore. Think pre-"Teen Spirit" Nirvana with more stylized angst and pathos. This trio consisting of Imaad (singer/guitarist), Tiber (bassist) and Brian (drummer) comes off sonically loud, generating such an intense wall of sound that it's surprising it's just three guys creating such a roar. Tracks to pay additional attention to are the menacing title track, "The Going Away Present," the plaintive "Floodlit," the eerie "Glisten to the Pink," and the experimental "The Train Will Not Stop."

-Hope Lopez
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[ night to die - all evil crying ]
Night To Die
All Evil Crying
Repulse
Remember those old commercials for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? "Chocolate and Peanut Butter--Two great tastes that taste great together." Yep, I know you do, even if you're just seeing them on TVLand for the first time. Well, let's try this...Flamenco and Death Metal--two great musics that go great together. Emmm, well, I know it sounds funny, but baby this mofo rocks. Track 3, "The Storm Is Coming," rocked my world to its core. I don't even want to play any other song except it right now. I'm addicted. This is only a mini-cd but if you don't order it right now, you'll regret it. This is the start of something really strange and huge. You wouldn't think the two musics would mesh but when you take a high-powered electric guitar and fingers fast enough to play flamenco and make them merge...Holy Moley. Look you may not be able to mate an elephant and a pot-bellied pig (yeah, yeah, Loverboy), but you sure as hell can mix flamenco and death metal and it rules [for those not getting the joke above, watch South Park more often]. I don't know if the flamenco guitarist extraordinaire is Daniel Gonzalez (doing double duty as the vocalist) or Francisco Rey because both are listed on guitar. But kudos to the entire band--Alejandro Cuinas on bass and Juanma Quintero "Chipi" on drums. It takes more than a flamenco guitarist to make this deal work. Cuinas' basswork adds the metal element to stabilize the flamboyant flamenco flailings and Chipi's drums and percussion are flavored by flamenco but fueled by metal. I shouldn't ignore "Childhood Memories" and "A Piece of Soul," the other two tracks on the mini-cd, because they rock a little more metally than the eight-minute-plus "The Storm is Coming." The whole mini-cd is remarkable and yes, it is destined for the year-end best-of column by a long shot. This is a must own and I don't care what type of music you like, you will like this. Off we go flamencoing my way to the cd store to find their earlier stuff.

-Sabrina Wade Haines
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[ nine inch nails - the day the world went away ]
Nine Inch Nails
"The Day the World Went Away"
Nothing Records

Links:
Nine Inch Nails

CDS and 12" release for the first song from the up-coming The Fragile album. I won't even bother trying to make a joke about the release date of that album since superlatives and similes fail to adequately encompass just how slippery that date has been. The publication date on this song is 1998. It's mid-July. A long way from 1998 if you're counting days. So what are we getting? One song that will supposedly be on the album, a "quiet" version, a remix, and a b-side. Which one is sub-par and not really worth your time? The album track.

Doesn't bode well does it?

Whatever Trent picked up for the "Perfect Drug" (Lost Highway soundtrack two years ago) was a momentary distraction. "The Day the World Went Away" returns us to the sound of The Downward Spiral. This is "Hurt" marred by a wee bit of mandolin and sonic outtakes at quarter speed from "Mr. Self Destruct." And a bunch of "na na na's" like this is a love fest at a Billy Joel concert. The "quiet" version of the track throws those "na na's" up front and then lumbers into noodling lifted from "A Warm Place" which, if you believe the stories, has already been lifted once. Call it "Theme and Variation." Worked for composers in the seventeenth century.

The remix is done by Porter Ricks and the only good thing about the remix is that a lot of people who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to the Basic Channel type of minimalism are going to get a good dose of it. I can only hope this helps some of the great music coming out of Germany get a boost over here in the States.

"Starfuckers, Inc." has a Charlie Clouser co-writing credit attached to it and it shows, the song wallows in the signature remix sound that Charlie has used to great success on White Zombie and other bands. It's actually the best tune of the bunch, but that's like making a distinction between a dog with three legs and a dog with no legs.

On one hand, you've got the ass-sucking spin doctoring of Rolling Stone. On the other, you've got a note from Toni Halliday posted to the Curve noticeboard a week ago or so stating that her husband (Alan Moulder) is still away at the NIN camp. A little late to still be mixing an album scheduled for release in September, don't you think? Or was it April? It's getting hard to remember.

-Mark Teppo
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[ marc olsen - didn't ever...hasn't since ]
Marc Olsen
Didn't Ever...Hasn't Since
My Own Planet
This is the second solo release from the former Sage guitarist. Unlike Tunnel Songs, which consisted mostly of Olsen's plaintive voice and hushed guitar, Didn't Ever...Hasn't Since finds him with a full backing band, one that provides a better vehicle with which to explore his somber ruminations. As a friend said, "He takes his time." And this he uses to skillful effect. Even during more straight ahead and upbeat numbers like "Martian Romance," Olsen is both consummate arranger and musician; holding the band at a steady pace, using the added instrumentation to open spaces and build textures rather than just stack sound upon sound. Most of the songs on Didn't Ever...Hasn't Since are down tempo affairs. From the dissonant guitar on the album's opener "Missed," to the funeral-like dirge of "Your Day," to the refitted "Leaving Tomorrow" (from Tunnel Songs) and the reappearance of "Rosaleen" (one of Olsen's songwriting contributions to Sky Cries Mary's A Return to the Inner Experience), Olsen's melancholy lyrics are skillfully animated against the collective hush of the band. The steady count of a song's beat against the ride cymbal, a quiet bass run, the occasional flourish of violin or lap steel off to the side. And tucked quietly away in the center the songs is the strum of Olsen's guitar and his voice. Whether it's the quiet and sparse solo numbers or a full ensemble, Olsen's voice is always at the forefront; a forlorn whisper picking at the heartache inside us all. Comparisons could be made to Elliott Smith, but that's just a mistaken first glance. Where Smith is now off following his love for the Beatles, Olsen seems to be dipping deep into the well of music that sparked such artists as Nick Drake. Didn't Ever...Hasn't Since finds him at home here, and finds us with an album worthy of such comparison.

-Craig Young
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[ pissing razors - cast down the plague ]
Pissing Razors
Cast Down the Plague
Noise Records

Links:
[email protected]

Pissing Razors' self-titled debut album was a warning shot compared to this blast of metal. Actually it was such a tremendous album that I declared it to be one of the 1998's best in January. Sophomore albums usually can't follow in the footsteps of their debuts, but Pissing Razors knows that Noise Records is depending on them to revitalize a once-great label...so they pulled out all the stops and pushed the aggression to new heights. Cast Down the Plague is a triumphant sophomore disc. Pissing Razors play aggro-metal--a potent blend of death metal and power metal tempered with just a dash of old-fashioned hardcore. They use traditional metal-style vocals with razor-sharp guitars, throbbing basslines and powerful, punishing drums. In fact, it is the drums that made me fall in love with these Razors so much. Eddy Garcia probably won't be hailed by other rock critics as being just as good as Igor Cavalera (Sepultura) or Tomas Haake (Meshuggah) and I can't say he's reached their status yet either, but he is only a razor's breadth away. If he weren't drumming, the Pissing Razors would just be pissy. Cast Down the Plague just builds and builds in intensity throughout the disc. Garcia's drums are fantastic--crushing and apocalyptic. Joe Rodriguez's vocals are extremely intense. The whole disc actually gels more than Pissing Razors and has just a tinge of Texas flavor. God knows the guitar riffs (courtesy of Matthew Lynch) feel bigger than Texas when combined with the awesome rhythm section (Garcia and bassist Rick Valles). All you need to hear is "Mass Corruption," "Cast Down the Plague" and "Survival of Time" to know that this disc could crown Pissing Razors as contenders. This is a dark and heavy metal disc just waiting to explode. The plague is coming...You'll welcome it.

-Sabrina Wade Haines
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[ red hot chili peppers - californication ]
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Californication
Warner Brothers

Links:
Red Hot Chili Peppers

The funk soul brothers are back! Anyone who doubted that the fellas couldn't pull it out after a slight derailment with One Hot Minute should take a good long listen to Californication. I myself couldn't imagine a record more syrupy than Blood Sugar Sex Magic, but to my amazement...and let me tell you people, Californication is so sexy, so flavorful, so fuckin' well written, performed, and produced that it does just as much if not more for the libido as did Blood Sugar Sex Magic.

And John is back! And thank god! Not to slight Dave Navarro, but he confused the Chili Peppers, they thought they were Jane's Addiction for a second on One Hot Minute. And quite frankly, that confused me. But all is forgiven. Because with John back in the kitchen the heat is turned way up.

They are in seriously rare form on Californication, the singing has never been so true, nor the lyrics and music as venomous. Every song is in its own right. The first seven songs are so damn fine that it's hard to get past them to enjoy the rest of the record. It's straightforward, no holds barred Chili Peppers.

-Jeff Ashley
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[ sympatico ]
Sympatico
Sympatico
Atwood Media

Links:
[email protected]

Maybe it's just me, but lately when I put on a nice jazz CD I can't help thinking about the finer things in life. I'm sure the fact that I just sold some stock has something to do with it, but not everything, as one might suspect. No, Earpollution hasn't gone public, not in that manner anyhow, not yet. But our mailbox has been receiving an increasing number of jazz CDs for review.

The latest to come our way is the self-titled debut CD from a Boston-based quartet of jazz musicians. Sympatico features Stanley Swan on drums, Bob Ponte on keyboards, Maggie Rizzi on drums, and Steve Thomas on guitar. The album features eight original compositions written by Bob, Maggie, and Steve which range in style from mainstream contemporary jazz to jazz funk. During the recording process every effort was made by the band to maintain the chemistry and interplay of a live performance. All the tracks on Sympatico were recorded in three live in-studio sessions with the exception of track 8, "Danse & Lullaby." This challenging process pays off as the listener is treated to a fresh and spirited performance.

The first track that really jumped out at me was "Can't Find It." Stevie's guitar work on this number (which he also wrote) was reminiscent of two favorite jazz guitarists of mine: Jonathan Butler and George Benson. Robert's keyboard solo had me longing for a warm summer day by the ocean in a brand new pearl white Audi A4, with the quattro all-wheel drive system. As I effortlessly guide my new car along with the snaking road with the full ocean view, "Can't Find It" provides the perfect pace for an exhilarating musical and driving experience. The only thing that could make this experience any better is having that someone special riding shotgun with a picnic basket for two in the back.

"No Rage," written by Maggie Rizzi, is a '70s-styled bass slappin' jazz funk tune. Every time I play this number I can't help but hear "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly and the Family Stone in the opening seconds as Maggie solos. Here, my shopping list of things to buy with my stock money turns into more of a wishful-thinking list, as my heart yearns for the joy of owning my own night spot. The rest of the tracks on Sympatico were solid and are best described as spirited contemporary jazz. Perfect for this time of year as a musical backdrop to the warm and sunny days of summer.

-Cecil Beatty-Yasutake
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