The Crayon Theatrical, "6 Song EP" (Scabby Brooks Records)
I have to admit I wasn't expecting much when this came in the mail. Oh, great-another home grown demo. But I was pleasantly surprised by this EP. Released by an indie label out of Ohio, this is actually a pretty solid CD. All of the songs were written by singer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Homyk.
The EP starts out with "On The Prairie" which features a slick backwards wah-wah guitar solo. The vocal style actually sounds like Wayne Hussey, from The Mission UK. On other songs, artists like The Lightning Seeds come to mind especially on the whimsical "Jigsaw Girl". On "Galesburg" Homyk implores the listener to "trip away our minds-in a sea of wonder". Sounds like a good time-killer for a Saturday afternoon. This song sticks in your head even more when the distorted vocals kick in-sounding eerily like Thomas Dolby from the 80's hit "What About Submarines?" But this is not a nostalgic trip back in time-any "retro" leanings seem to strictly be for creating texture on the tracks.
The Crayon Theatrical seeps into your subconscious like a lullaby played late at night. The songs convey a rich sonic landscape that beg for repeated listenings-maybe even with some headphones to experience the full sonic effect. Perhaps on the next CD we will get a full album to see all the colors of this engaging project come to light.
The Wonder Boys, "The Wonder Boys: II" (Indie Release)
Although garage rock has made a big splash on the music landscape in the past couple of years, some stuff was never meant to leave Mom's basement. Unfortunately, this is the case for some of the material on "II". Consisting of two members-David Liljemark and Christian Kastén from Sweden these guys are not the next Hives. (Although they do have snazzy gold lame suits-so maybe they can get on MTV).
There are some catchy songs on here. "Slut Machine" is a song about a girl who is sleeping around with everyone around town now. "Strings Attached" draws together a clever metaphor between broken relationships and broken guitar strings. "Kinda Sad Stories" is reminiscent of quirky songs that bands like The Dead Milkmen and King Missile use to put out with immature glee. "Blues In Paradise" even sounds a little like Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" with its distorted guitars and vocals.
But ultimately "II" suffers from one fatal flaw that are will probably be too big for the average listener to overcome. There are no drums on this record and it really suffers without any percussion. Most of the guitars are electric, not acoustic were this could actually work. Instead it just creates a droning and mostly tedious atmosphere. Some of the songs could have been rescued from blandness if there was just a simple snare drum fill in the background. I know garage rock is supposed to be primitive but enough is enough. The White Stripes should be drawn and quartered for starting this trend. Taking an instrument out of the classic three piece line-up (guitar/bass/drums) only makes the group sound lame. Less is not more in this case. Hopefully The Wonder Boys will take this to heart and squeeze a drummer into the garage for Wonder Boys III.
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Radney Foster, "Another Way To Go" (Dualtone Records)
With the Popularity of Hank III, Jason and the Scorchers, and country fringe there is a more than apparent market for GOOD country. There is also a wide spread need for a messiah to point the way back to the law of Hank Sr, Johnny, Willie, Merle, Patsy, Kittie, Conway, George, and all the other prophets of twang and whiskey. With the stage set for this messiah to emerge Radney Foster throws his 10 gallon into the ring. The results fall flatter than a crudely constructed washtub bass left out in the rain over night.
I've heard gospel with more bite. This is a NICE country album in an age when EVERY fucking country album is nice. Radney writes pussy music for those pussies that listen to country pop stars like Faith Hill, Ms. (I'm from Canada but I'm country )Twain-make that CUNT- tree. Well, Mr Foster, you may rake in the dough one day but god damned if your balls aren't a hefty price.
George Jones posed the seminal question to this current under-talented crop of country stars in the song "who's gonna fill their shoes?". Unfortunately, I'm no closer to answering that question after listening to this edifice of overproduced, blase, adult contemporary, sugary sweet, I'm a man but I can cry BULLSHIT! To quote another country song "It all sounds kinda funny, but hurts to much to laugh, she got the gold mine, I got the shaft" She being Radney, He being us the listening public. Thanks. Dick.
Slow Jets, "Good Morning, Stars" (Morphius Records)
The Slow Jets are exactly what the name implies. Instead of haul assing all over the fret board Eddie Van Halen style they take their time. The results speak for themselves.
Like dinner at a fancy restaurant and theater their on the sophisticated side of life. They keep to their punk roots but would still be right at home on most Alternapop stations and, to be honest, would do alternapop stations a world of good. Much better than that drops of jupiter bullshit (what the fuck is a drop of jupiter anyway?). If they have a good AR man they could be millionaire so listen to them now before you have to abandon them to keep your hip image.
The Springfields, "The Springfields" (Morphius Records)
With one foot in the biblical hell you were all warned about by your overzealous religious freak parents and the other planted firmly in the nirvana of Anti-Hero's American Oi! The Springfields have descended upon the sound waves with an appetite for destruction this years' Guns & Roses knows nothing about.
Set in the sound structure of poppy street punk the tough guys show some tears along the way but wash them down Natty Bo and make a plea to "tongue (Britney Spears) twat and butt", what red blooded hetero male could disagree? They also cover mailbox baseball, getting fired, Mike Ness-like bad luck, and other miscellaneous shannigans.
They sound isn't breaking new ground but it doesn't have to- it's young, melodic, and easy to listen to, if your an old ass punk talking about how punk was so much better back in the day you might want to keep palm fisting to dirty rotten imbeciles, but if your young or one of the few old hipsters then pick this up. It's in heavy rotation on my cd player.
The Shakedowns, "Move" (Morphius Records)
I see thousands of starving mindless drones walking around one of the nations largest college campus' (Ohio State) and their all rockin' out to the beat of The Strokes. The WRONG fucking beat! If these Strokes fans had any sense they'd see that they're really a KINKS cover band. Or they would get hip and see the real deal and pop in The Shakedowns. This album is refreshing. It's in the same vain as The Strokes but has one huge difference. ORIGINALITY. This band experiments with different timing and chords which is sorely and sadly lacking in todays music. Not content to make the same song over and over again for the whole disk this band actually is able to express itself through the music. Another band tossed about as an influence was THE NEW BOMB TURKS but having lived in the Turks home base since 1991 I can tell you The Shakedowns are nothing like the Turks. THEY ARE BETTER!!!
What about the lyrics? They don't even matter. Oh, the lyrics are good but the sound is supreme. Definitely the best album of the month for me to review. Pick it up or I'm going to come over and break all your VINES, WHITE STRIPES, and STOKES albums and make you eat the remnants.
The Dream Is Dead, "Letter of Resignation" (Morphius Records)
Generic death metal/Integrity style HC. This album was just too generic to be good. Made use of every well worn hook they could muster in 4 songs- their fifth was a cover. I didn't like the album so I wanted to if the youth of the day would listen to this album. I enlisted my trusty 5 year old son. I put this on and said so what do you think. He looked at me with obvious exaggerated disappointment in his eyes and said thumbs down daddy. Then the fifth song came on and he said he liked that one. Too bad it was a cover. Maybe they could play cover tunes for a living? I certainly hope they've kept their day jobs and do not try to put out another generic to the core album. Though the designer of the cover get props for some nice art work.
Andrew W.K., "I Get Wet" (Island Records)
"PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!" That is the main theme behind stone-heavy piece of aluminum that is the debut CD by Florida's own Andrew W.K. The entire song list seems to explain in all.
With titles (3 of them contain the word "party") like "It's Time to Party", "Party Hard" and "Party Till You Puke" and let us not forget a tune called "Fun Night", I can hear silly drunk fat frat brats all over this great land of ours doing all of the above from right here in my own goddamn bedroom. And thanks to it's intensely volumonous mechanized video-game like hooks, I bet I will be staying up pretty late tonight.
Andrew screams, growls and bellows through twelve blistering tracks, mostly reminescent of the '80s metal headbanger era (Crue, Twisted Sister, Scorpions, et al) and you kinda can't help but feel it growing inside you. Even on the more poppish-sounding rockers ("She Is Beautiful", "Girls Own Love"), you won't hear any type of pretty crooning or anything like that.
An almost must have for anyone fed up with the way music is going today. And although I have yet to see the guy live, if there's a chance to catch him at OZ
Hostile Omish, "One Horse Power" (Universal Records)
Carrying on in the grand tradition of punk rock greats like The Meatmen and The Angry Samoans, Hostile Omish makes offensive punk rock that your Mom would hate. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But "One Horse Power" boasts some clever lyrics and melodic guitar riffs that are hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk.
The subject matter veers wildly- from a song about a lesbian that the singer can't get- "Vagitarian" (Lesbian Love Song) to a song entitled "Epileptic Ice Cream Man"-which I guess I don't need to paint you a picture on that song. But the Omish isn't just all about buzz saw guitars and "four on the floor" drum beats. "Hey Mom" is a pleasant acoustic song about a teenage kid too drunk to get home and boasts a catchy chorus-"pick me up-I'm drunk". They even tackle some ska on "The Buzz" without sounding lame like Less Than Jake. But if you are willing to go along with some of the material, it will definitely be a rollercoaster ride. So throw the "PC" credos out the window and have some fun. "One Horse Power" rocks like a hurricane and I personally can't wait to be swept away by the next release. If the Hostile Omish hit your town make sure you catch their live show and get ready to churn some butter with the band. "As The World Churns" is the next CD on the horizon for The Hostile Omish so beware and remember-The Hostile Omish welcomes all into the fold.
Pushing Red Buttons, "Down" (NormanfellMusic)
Pushing Red Buttons is an incredibly eclectic and well-versed group of musicians. Their songs include some of almost every instrument used in rock recordings; even the clavinet is called upon to produce some of their wide array of sounds. Their music fits many different genres of music but is difficult to categorize. Pushing Red Buttons is most driven by blues, but they sometimes drift into a “jam” band sound or even a funk/classic rock blend.
Their many influences being molded into one band seems like a good idea; and, for the most part, it is. However, songs such as “Everybody’s Waving Goodbye” and “The Streets of Today” come off as clunky and obtuse, never really developing. Their diversity pays off, though. This record does not sound like the overproduced, cut-and-paste rock records that are so prevalent today. Songs such as “The Jesus of the Neighborhood” and “I’m Not Ready (to be the perfect man you’d always planned)” stand out as the gems of the cd, musically and lyrically. This would be a great purchase for fans of Eric Clapton, Phish, Bob Marley, and classic rock.
Buffalo Tom, "Besides" (Beggars Banquet)
Finally we get the long awaited collection of rarities to compliment the A-sides CD released last year. This CD spans a large portion of Buffalo Tom's career and the variety really is an eye-opener. Most of these tracks are in stark contrast to typical guitar bombast album fare. "Witches" features a great vocal from bassist Chris Colbourn about some of the women in his life that he considered "girl-witches". Chris's playful innocence in his lyrics also come through in his song about a neighborhood dog-"Butterscotch" and a babysitter that would push him around when he misbehaved ("Sally Brown").
But the band as a whole would also allow the B-side concept to take them into new musical realms. "The Spider and The Fly" is an acoustic blues romp that John Lee Hooker would be proud of. But as drummer Tom Maginnis notes in the liner notes it was the track called "Bumble-Bee" that shows the band trying to stretch its wings-and really taking flight with a simple but haunting arrangement. There are also some songs that could have made it on to a Buffalo album proper: among them Bill Janovitz's "Anchors Aweigh". Some cool covers are put on "Besides" as well-from Bob Dylan to Teenage Fanclub. But the highlight is truly Buffalo Tom's raging take on The Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties". I guess Simple Minds did not hear this version or else they wouldn't have bothered putting out their watered down disco retread cover from "Neon Lights". This version simply kills it. The guitars swarm like a murderous stormcloud about to break-and when Bill lets loose with a blood curdling scream-it does. All in all this is an excellent release showing the true talents of this sometimes underappreciated band.