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Askew Review 15

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AMERICAN STEEL- Rouge’s March (Lookout) Thirteen original sounding frantic hard punk rock. These guys play melodic punk so catchy in a very non-pop way. The music has a slight Rancid sound to it, minus the ska. Singer Ryan blasts his scratchy vocals while the rest of the band feverishly pound away on their instruments forcing you to do anything but sit still. Even when they play slower, like during the chorus of “Got A Backbeat” for example, these guys are still able to capture an intense and urgent rhythm. In the words of Ash from Army of Darkness, “Groovy.” Denis Sheehan

ANTI-FLAG- Underground Network (Fat Wreck Chords) Usually, when a band is described as academic or cerebral, this refers to overly technical math-rock (e.g. Don Cabellero), or its prog-rock precedents; however, describing Anti-Flag as academic is less a reference to song structure as it is to their general approach. Their songs have foot-notes, page numbers, references--their list of contacts is a works-cited bibliography. We're talking MLA style here. The idea is that most songs are based on an article, newsbyte, etc...taken from an alternative media outlet. Music is primarily a form of activism, with "Underground Network" covering everything from specific foreign-policy issues to general frustrations with the complacency that most Americans encounter when discussing political dissatisfaction. Musically, their influences are obviously as wide as their political interests. The clean bass-tones recall Minor Threat, while other songs are reminiscent of a declawed Black Flag without the intense desperation. The vocals sit in between an obnoxious SoCal nasal-delivery and a more guttural snarl while maintaining a clean delivery (since again, the message is the most important thing). What is truly remarkable about Anti-Flag is their ability to package heavy-handed political content within a punk structure without losing musical ambition ("Until It Happens To You" even has a short but effective guitar solo!) or diversity, nor abandoning a sense of humor (check out "Spaz's House Destruction Party" for a hilarious account of a St. Paddy's Day 3-day squatter Pittsburgh punk party). In a time where affluence and apathy are the reigning philosophies, Anti-Flag helps to highlight the interplay between punk and politics without seeming clique-ish, or overly preachy (as some Vegan/Animal Rights crust bands do). Of all the current groups who seem to have aspirations of becoming something of an American Clash, Anti-Flag show the most promise and broadest appeal.-Ryan McKay

 THE ANTI HEROS- American Pie (Taang) Great punk that kicks your teeth in from these ten year veterans. The entire disc is loaded with fast, intense songs. “Fuck Hollywood” is now my theme song. Great lyrics, great music, great listening. Buy this one. - Denis Sheehan

APARTMENT THREE - Smiles From the Ashtray (High Rise Records) Backwards baseball cap-wearing frat boys rejoice! Apartment Three plays the same type of hideous rock-lite/jazz/pop/whiteboy bullshit that Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, etc. have made so annoyingly popular.  If there are worse records out there than Smiles From the Ashtray, I hope to God I don't run across them. Worse than awful.-Chris Wissmuller

ASTROSLUT- Love at Zero G (Soundworks Studios, POB 305, Watertown, MA 02471) Astroslut brings together a number of “themes” to produce an eclectic, tranquil, yet odd mixture of music. Imagine sitting in a lounge with James Bond, sipping a martini (shaken, not stirred), and listening to the band soulfully play and sing for your enjoyment. In steps Buck Rogers adding a little 25th century synthesizer heavy, sci-fi, electro feel to the lounge atmosphere. After finishing your first martini, Starsky and Hutch blast into the joint jolting the crowd with some jazzy 70’s cop theme music. Just when you thought the clientele couldn’t get anymore diverse, in steps badass blaxpliotation star Fred Williamson adding some attitude and funky groove to the scene. While the band digests all of the above through their instruments, Jane Fondle brings it all together with her wide raging, strong, and soothing vocals. Perhaps the most bizarre cd I have ever enjoyed. Very different stuff going on here. – Denis Sheehan  

ATREYU- Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses (Victory) I normally don’t cover his type of hard rock/metal in this zine, but these guys kind of intrigued me so I shall break my own guidelines. Ever see “Sybil,” the 1976 movie about a young girl with 16 personalities? Well, this band is the musical equivalent of that famed Sally Field character. The music, for the most part, is hard, fast, and pretty tough on the “toughness” scale. However, there are some 1980’s metal like guitar solos that really annoyed the snot out of me. I find it most troublesome when a band really gets a nasty-nasty in a good way- groove going, then ruins it with a loud, obnoxious solo. Unless you’re playing the ol’ air guitar and feel like hogging the spotlight while pulling a Pete Townshend windmill on your bed, you too may find this annoying as well.  Now for the vocals; 95% of the vocals are of the gravely, mean, and very metal blahblahblaaaaaaaaaaaahblahblah variety. But, thrown into those mean sounding blahs, are some lighter, more melodic la la la las. It honestly sounds like two different vocalists (there are two singers) are singing. The mixing of two such contradicting vocals actually work and sound pretty good. “At Least I Know I’m a Sinner” is a perfect example of the vocal experience that is Atreyu. Aside from the guitar solos, I really got into this stuff. Won’t hurt to check this one out. – Denis Sheehan  

AUGUST SPIES
- 94-97 (Rodent Popsicle Records, POB 335, Newton Center, MA 02459) Collection of thirty-two songs from a number of releases plus a bunch of unreleased tracks as well. All the songs are basically punk rock with drunk sounding vocals. Although nothing spectacular, it is a good disc.- Denis Sheehan

AUTOMATIC 7- Beggar’s Life (Vagrant) Remember the gritty, raw, and energetic sound Social Distortion played when they first burst onto the scene way back when? Well, Automatic 7 has captured that same sound and emotion. Are they a carbon copy of Social D? Hell no, these guys nicely inject their own musical personality and come across as refreshing. John Hulett’s vocals bear an uncanny resemblance to Mike Ness’ in an almost eerie way. A strong, straightforward guitar fuels all the songs. “Last Train to Hitsville” is my favorite here. Looking for a nut’s and bolts punk sound? Look no further.- Denis Sheehan

 THE AUTHORITY- On Glory’s side (Outsider, POB 92708, Long Beach, CA 90809) Fifteen edgy and streetwise Oi punk songs tear through this disc at an unmerciful rate. The melodic, searing guitars beautifully compliments the gritty, powerful vocals while the rhythm section pounds you into a musical oblivion. These guys not only deliver a no-nonsense message, but they do so in a crystal clear manner. From the questioning lyrics in “Gunman,” to the angry pains of heartache expressed in ”Lesson Learned,” The Authority force-feed you their thoughts on all aspects of life. Great disc. -Denis Sheehan

AVAIL- One Wrench (Fat Wreck) This cd is somehow able to contain 14 new and explosive power punk tunes from bursting out of it’s digital seams. The beauty of Avail is they play songs that are not the least bit similar sounding to each other. Each song is basically a brand new adventure into the wilderness of punk rock. The first cut, “Fast One,” pulls you in with it’s fast paced madness. “Taken,” the second cut, is a bit slower and more melodic, but it still captures the energy of the first song. The third song continues with the craziness but ventures off onto it’s own path. Even the few slower tunes, by slower I mean slower than the rest of the disc's songs (there truly are no “slow” songs here), are jam packed with chaotic hooks and drilling drums. Along with all this music, are some great, charismatic lyrics that you have no choice but to sing along with. Not only is “Heron” my favorite song here, it also beautifully shows how Avail is able to bring many different punk sounds together and make it all sound great. This one will keep the pit moving. – Denis Sheehan  

BAD ASTRONAUT- Acrophobe (Honest Don's) You'll find two covers on Acrophobe, "Needle in the Hay" an Elliot Smith tune, and the familiar "500 Miles." Not the hit by The Proclaimers, but the old school Hedy West folk song with the lyrics, "You can hear the whistle blow 500 miles." Half way through this version, it becomes loud and punkified, and guitarist/vocalist Joey Cape is zooming up the frets like it was a Social D. song! Bad Astronaut has dynamic vocals and chops which are artfully arranged into more complex melodies. "Greg's Estate," which seems to be about a really dysfunctional family, is heavy and full of hooks, cool effects, and vocal deviations. "Anecdote" has a tiptoeing bass that is then echoed by louder bass, sort of like being chased by Godzilla! This is really good stuff. It is clean even in its rocking moments, avoiding an over barrage of distortion. When "Only Good For A Fuck" kicks in with thundering power chords, they somehow turn an expletive into a regal sounding anthem! On "Deformed" Joey reminds me of The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. The lyrics are cool, too - case in point, "I'm the host of remorse in a town of revenge" or "I met her in May. The fifth of dismay." A crazed and furious guitar riff launches "Logan's Run" and I detect a Rush influence in how polished and effective it comes off. Then it morphs into a more conventional chord progression. There is even an 80's feel as keyboards are sprinkled throughout giving it a kind of feel akin to Berlin's "Metro." The finale is an array of hidden bonus tracks that start with gossiping girls that segue way into a lengthy but amusing series of answer machine messages. The tone of the caller gets progressively more irritable with each successive message. I was folding the liner notes when I confirmed my suspicions of a Rush influence. Under "Astronomical Salutations" they salute a number of bands including Radiohead, Bad Religion, Iron Maiden and yes, Rush! If they like Rush they can't be half bad themselves! - Tony Gerardi

THE BANJO SPIDERS (Spinning Records, 327 Summer St., Studio 4, Boston, MA 02210) Eleven tightly played pop rock songs with heavy influences from old time American rock and roll such as Buddy Holly and Credence Clearwater Revival. The songs also have a feel of garage rock to them with a hint of quirkiness much like Weezer. The songs are a bit mellow, but they pull you in and play with your musical taste buds. The Banjo Spiders play a very unique and un90’s sound. Refreshing indeed. – Denis Sheehan

BARON AUTOMATIC-Wayfunner (Dummyup, PO Box 642634, San Francisco, CA 94164) Powerful uppity sounding pop punk. The song “Beautiful” is a pretty good ska song. For the last titled song “Olim,” the uppitiness is tossed aside for a pure hardcore punk sound. The disc is capped off with two unlisted tracks. One is some dude reciting poetry (I think), and the second is a hillbilly punk song probably called “That Punk Rock Guy Just Gave Me The Finger.” Although the entire disc is good, “Million People” and “Bambi,” are the two best bets. - Denis Sheehan

BEERZONE-Life In The..(POB 89, Crawley, UK RH10 7PD) Pretty good five song cd from these chaps out of the UK. All five tunes are punk with a “happy” feel to them. Kind of like All, but Beerzone have their own sound. I liked all the songs even though I have no idea what the hell the lead singer was saying because of his British accent. - Denis Sheehan

BICKLEY-Pogo Au Go-Go (Fearless Records, 13772 Goldenwest St. 3545, Westminster, CA 92683) Sixteen great punk rock tunes. Every song has it’s own special sound and will keep you listening over and over. Most of the lyrics will have you busting a gut laughing. The entire disc is unreal. “Down The Hatch” will stick in your head for days. “Sally” is a hilarious hillbilly song about a white trash chick who gives “it” up for beer. This disc is a must have. - Denis Sheehan

BIG BAD BOLLOCKS- Night on the Tiles (Monolyth) Ever stumble into a pub half hammered and sing along with the band who was just as hammered as you? Well, BBB is probably the best band to share a pint or two with. They sound like an English/Irish pub band with a touch of punk, folk, rock, and plenty o’ Guinness. Some of the songs are fast, some are ballads, but they are all perfect! From the sing along choruses in “Aunt Mary” to the pub brawling atmosphere in “Pubs of Liverpool” to the romantic feelings of “Drunker Than I Was,” this disc covers all the bases. As great as this disc is, BBB is even better live. Be sure to check them out. Unless you hate having a good time, this disc is impossible not to like. Cd of the year.- Denis Sheehan

BIG IN JAPAN- Destroy The New Rock (Honest Don’s) Have you ever gotten a box of chocolates, picked one out that looked tasty, bit into it and ended up disappointed? That’s kind of an awkward analogy for the way I felt when I listened to this disc.  While it’s not like biting into a chocolate with shit in the middle, it’s more like getting coconut when you were hoping for caramel.  The CD cover has what looks like a Marshall amp head with “Destroy The New Rock” written on it.  Marshall amps rule, and I agree with that statement. So far, so good.  Then I started listening to it.  While Big In Japan’s press sheet mentioned an Elvis Costello influence, I had no idea how much some of these songs (especially “Hell Before Reno” and “New Dead Boyfriend”) would imitate the late ‘70s Costello catalog.  If you’re familiar with the Jags’ 1979 minor hit “Back of My Hand (I’ve Got Your Number),” it will help you understand where I’m coming from here.  Now, don’t get me wrong- if you’re going to imitate any Elvis Costello period, this should be the one.  That said, I still have a hard time really getting into something that seems to borrow so heavily from something else.  There are some other songs that are more in line with the standard retro-modern pop-punk stuff so prevalent on the radio these days, but these tracks are actually a cut below the Costello clones.  By no means does “Destroy The New Rock” suck.  Some of the songs can definitely get your head boppin’, but when it’s all said and done, it’s all been said and done before. –Ben Hunter

BRANT BJORK AND THE OPERATORS (Music Cartel) This cd encompasses the types of music I generally don’t like; stoner rock, funk, and electro. However, and oddly enough, I like the sound here. It works for some reason. Behind the above mentioned music genres, is a layer of 70’s glam/trash/porno feel that gives the groovy sound and bit of dirtiness. This dude is the former drummer of Kyuss. For some reason, I feel weird for liking this disc. – Denis Sheehan

BLACK KALI MA- You Ride The Pony, I’ll Be The Bunny (Alternative Tentacles) You will find ten down and dirty, straight forward, rock and roll songs with slight hints of blues and punk on this great sounding disc. Not only is the music powerfully intense, but the lyrics center on the more disappointing aspects of society. If you ever saw the Quentin Tarantino movie From Dusk Till Dawn, you will surely remember the intensity the Mexican band captured while playing in the Titty Twister as the vampires gorged themselves on the patrons. Well, if the Titty Twister was further north, lets say Texas, then Black Kali Ma would have been playing the dinner music. Gary Floyd (frontman for the infamous Dicks) will blow you away with his mean sounding vocals. The first song, “Kali,” killed me! – Denis Sheehan

 BOURBON JONES & THE SMOKES- Tamano Del Rey (Last Chance Records, 3812B SE Division, Portland, OR 97202) Six powerful and intense blues rock tunes to make you dim the lights and down a bottle of booze. Some great guitar work and bluesy vocals, which sounds like Don “Bubah” Bexley from Sanford and Son, power all the songs. The second song “Frankenstein” is more rock than blues, but the rest of the disc is heavy blues-rock. The band’s name suits their music. - Denis Sheehan

CATCH 22- Alone in a Crowd (Victory Records) Wow, I'm exhausted from skanking to this entire disc. Hailing from the Jersey scene, Catch 22 plays great punk influenced ska with lightning fast vocals. This is not like the regular ska you know. This is pure greatness. "Point the Blame" is my favorite track, the first one after the intro, but not taking anything away from the other tracks. "Arm to Arm" sounds just like all the punk I listen to, and you know what that is from previous reviews. These guys even cover a Beach Boys song! Even though the Beach Boys suck, Catch 22's version of "Wreck of the Sloop John B." is smokin'. 22 were in Boston last summer and I missed every show they put on. If they come back, I'll be there and so should you. If you've heard of this disc you should already be at the record store. – Brian Clark

 CATHODE BOB-Envy The Numb (One Mad Son, POB 295, Franklin Park, NJ 08823) Twelve great sounding old fashioned, bad to the bone rock-n-roll songs. Gritty vocals coupled with a quick, punk influenced guitar propels each song into high gear. This disc doesn’t let up for one second. All twelve songs will appeal to all sorts of music fans. Sounds as if Cathode Bob decided to dig down to the roots of rock-n-roll and speed things up with some miracle grow. - Denis Sheehan

 CERTAIN GENERAL-Signals From The Source (CBGB Records, 315 Bowery, New York, NY 10003) Hey, make believe that The Talking Heads made music today. Certain Signal sound just like them, but with a little more melodic rhythms and riffs. Hell, the lead singer even sounds like David Byrne. If you like The Talking Heads, or even the 80’s post modern sound, then you will dig these guys. I guess they were real big in Europe back in the 80s. Not bad. - Denis Sheehan

 CHRIS WARE BAND- Mill City’s Burning ( Fan Attic, POB 391494, Cambridge, MA 02139) Wow, great old fashioned punk rawk that will through you back to CBGB’s and the 70’s punk scene. The music has that great garage punk sound much like The Dead Boys. ”Doin’ It For The Kids” is plain great and the dueling vocals and whispering in “Murder or Suicide” is so cool it freaked me out! It is impossible not to get into this disc and it’s raw sound. – Denis Sheehan

 COLEPITZ (Wonderdrug, PO Box 995, Boston, MA 02123) Hailing from Portland, Maine, this foursome breaths life, and their unique sound, into the hard core metal scene. The music comes across very aggressively, but is also emotional and depressing enough to keep you honest. Ray Suhy’s insane guitar beautifully contradicts Rob Egbert’s intensely vulnerable vocals. Sounding hard core and melodic, Colepitz open fires on your musical emotions.- Denis Sheehan 

 COMMOM RIDER- Last Wave Rockers (Panic Button, POB 148010, Chicago, IL 60614-8010) Jesse Michaels, ex frontman for ska-core pioneers Operation Ivy, is back with this great sounding fourteen song disc. Most of the songs are fast ska like songs, but there are a few which fall more into the power punk genre. The first cut, “Classics of Love,” is a fast talking ska tune, while “Deep Spring” has a 1950’s Buddy Holly like sound.  The entire disc is loaded with catchy rhythms and great sounding vocals. Dan Lumley and Mass Giorgini, of Screeching Weasel/ Squirtgun, play drums and bass respectively.  Great disc, I recommend it. – Denis Sheehan

CONTENDER- Scenic Overlook (Web Site) Formed in 1999, this Denver based-group is infectious, like early Green Day without a sense of humor. Contender also have the churning tight-rhythms of Superchunk without that group's buoyant pulse or melodic sense, and show a shadowy resemblance to some aspects of Jawbreaker. The vocal duties are split between Kap and Chuck--one the singer and one the screamer. The lyrics seem to be pulled from the "angsty teen" reader: angry and dissatisfied, but indirect and self-conscious; thus they are likely to connect with a wide audience of kids who scribble similar lines down in their journals and diaries. Scenic Overlook has a singularity of approach which provides continuity and lays bare the band's songwriting formula. The stand-out track is "Last Shot Ricochet" for its diversity. Rather than break the mold of repetition, the song has a summarizing effect of what this album is about. As Contender push themselves to their stylistic and emotional limits, riffs are pushed to the point of melt-down, dissolving into feedback only to come back with doubled intensity. There is a palpable tension as if they were collectively trying to lift a heavy object, and only when the band is most weighed down do they reveal their true potential. With new material, a tour planned for August, cheap records, and .mp3's on their web-site, Contender may soon be just as accessible nationally as they are on the local level.- Ryan McKay

CROSSTOPS- Cloverleaf Fandango (Tinnitus Records) Band Site.What we got here Rubber Ducky, is a convoy of 18 hillbilly punk songs labeled as “Trucker Punk.” …pause to spit a mouthful of chaw into my cruddy Dunkin Donuts coffee cup…I sho’ done reckin’ that these here songs are called Trucker Punk because they are about trucker stuff; roads, trucks, boobs, butts, and scraping stupid people off truck grills.…pause to spit a mouthful of chaw into my cruddy Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and curse as I miss, hitting my brand new steel toe work boots…Just imagine Hank Williams Jr. all wigged up on little white speed pills playing at the Boar’s Nest (Boss Hogg’s joint in The Dukes of Hazzard) while Cooter lets out a barrage of yeehaws and yipyips… pause to spit a mouthful of chaw into my cruddy Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and curse as I miss, hitting my brand new steel toe work boots without even realizing the long string of brown drool left dangling from my chin…Barry “D’Live” Ward, who has been in a number of fairly popular bands (GWAR, Rich Kids on LSD, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies) can be heard playing lead guitar and singing most of the songs… pause to spit a mouthful of chaw into my cruddy Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and curse as I miss, hitting my brand new steel toe work boots without even realizing the long string of brown drool left dangling from my chin as I catch the eye of a fine young filly who I think is smiling at me ‘cuz I’m so cute…All of the songs have the same redneck twang you would figure to hear when listening to music labeled as “Trucker Punk.” The lyrics are humorous, silly, and may even offend the occasional feminist here and there.… pause to spit a mouthful of chaw into my cruddy Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and curse as I miss, hitting my brand new steel toe work boots without even realizing the long string of brown drool left dangling from my chin as I catch the eye of a fine young filly who I think is smiling at me ‘cuz I’m so cute, but she’s only smiling at me because I paused to spit a mouthful of chaw into my cruddy Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and cursed as I missed, hitting my brand new steel toe work boots without even realizing the long string of brown drool dangling  from my chin as I caught the eye of a fine young filly…Some might call this sound novelty rock, but damn these guys stick to the theme and run with it. I love the imagination and creativity of this stuff, but it’s just a tad too Hee-Haw sounding for me. I wonder if that fine young filly will make me some flapjacks on the griddle even though I paused to spit a mouthful of chaw…- Denis Sheehan

 THE CUFFS-Bottoms Up (Radical Records, 77 Bleecker St, Suite C2-21, New York, NY 10012) Seventeen fast and furious OI punk tunes that will have you singing along while downing a Bud or two. Jared is supposedly new to the world of drum playing, but he steals the show with his intense pounding that will infect the “groovy” part of your musical taste. WARNING: This disc may cause a roomful of punkers to suddenly transform into a churning pit of frenzied slammers. - Denis Sheehan

 DAYGLO ABORTIONS- Stupid World Stupid Songs ( God Records, POB 44132-3170, Tillicum Rd., Victoria, BC Canada V9A7H7) Yikes is one word to sum up this twenty three song collection from these long time Canadian punkers. Songs are taken from various releases spanning 1981-1996. Remember the early 1980’s aggressive sound of DOA and Fear? Well take that same “up yours” attitude and throw in some truly crude lyrics and you have Dayglo Abortions. Unless you are easily offended, this is one good punk cd. Fans of the above mentioned bands need this cd. - Denis Sheehan

DEAD KENNEDYS: THE EARLY YEARS LIVE (Music Video Distro) DVD. Live music videos.  Approx 30 minutes. NR. This DVD is a collection of nine live, on stage and in the studio, Dead Kennedys’ performances shot between 1978-1981. Songs included are; California Uber Alles, The Man With the Dogs, Bleed for Me (my all time favorite DK song), Kill the Poor, Insight, Holiday in Cambodia, Drug Me, Let’s Lynch the Landlord, and Viva Las Vegas. Along with the videos, there is also a five minute or so news story/interview with Jello Biafra concerning his San Francisco Mayoral run in 1979.
        Oddly enough, I have been  DK fan for as long as I can remember, yet I have never seen them live in any form (in person or video). In fact, the only time I had ever seen Jello, is when he was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show decrying censorship (hey, I was on Oprah! Jello and I have something in common...and it's not politics). Well, I’ve finally seen them and as I suspected, they sound great live! However, I was kind of disappointed by the bands onstage presence. Jello acts wild enough with his weird behavior and movements, but the rest of the band are a bunch of wet rags. The videos are clear and sound great. The Viva Las Vegas cut is shown at the end of the DVD and is interrupted by credit captions. Question for the DK trivia buffs; what’s the deal with Jello’s green latex gloves? The DVD extras include; Bios for the band as a whole, Jello, DH Peligro, East Bay Ray, and Klaus Flouride. These bios consist of scrolling text/live action split screen. The DVD also has sing along Karaoke style option, you know, you can sing the words along the bottom of the screen as Jello sings. This DVD is a re-release of Target’s 1987 video. Although I’d rather watch an entire live show, rather than bits and pieces of several, this DVD will do nicely for the Dead Kennedy fans out there. – Denis Sheehan

DEATH ON WEDNESDAY- Buying the Line (SideCho) Aching to hear some good ol’ fashion rock-n-roll spirited with some early Social Distortion like punk? Rejoice, for DOW is a sure bet to stay your aching. Along with the energetic and crafty music are some rather complicated vocals that scream, “Listen and like us!” Singer Nate Lawler sounds like an eclectic mixture of Morrissey’s (think The Smiths’ era) melodic mellowness, though not as mopey, with an extra dosage of The Cult’s Ian Astbury’s intensity and charisma. Even when Nate gets a little too mellow sounding, the boys backing him make sure to keep things noisy! The first song, “If You Want,” is my favorite song off the disc because of it’s addictive catchiness and quick pace. “Stare” screams Morrissey as Nate turns on the weepy sound and “Dream” takes on the sound of a 1950’s love ballad. The guitar licks (that’s the noun, not the verb) on all the songs are also stand out. These guys incorporate a number of different musical styles and influences and nicely spits out a fresh, unique sounding mash of music. Just as Mikey likes Life cereal, I like this disc. – Denis Sheehan

 DEHUMANIZED- Problems First (New Red Archives, POB 210501, San Francisco, CA 94121) Be sure to hold on tight when you listen to this baby for the first time. The sounds are reminiscent of the old east coast hardcore punk sound. The songs are a frenzied combination of whirling guitars, rhythmic drums, pounding bass, and brought all together by deep as hell lyrics. Great stuff here. Not a second is wasted on this disc.- Denis Sheehan

 DELUXTONE ROCKETS (Tooth & Nail Records, POB 12698, Seattle, WA 98111) Probably some of the best swing I’ve ever listened to. Not only is there plenty of tremendous horns, but also lots of great guitar work often overlooked by swing bands. To make this disc even better, the drums by Jason "JJ" Sorn are remarkable. Sorn could even make Louis Belson tap his feet! The vocals are mean and very energetic which really pushes the music down your throat. This is one cool and fun disc. -Denis Sheehan

 DEM BROOKLYN BUMS- There Goes The Neighborhood (Yougotta Problem Witdis Records, POB 1572, New York, NY 10276) Wow, swing so tough it should be called a jab. Six great, brass knuckle swing tunes that will force you get up and dance. From the good ol’ time sound of “Boozin’ And Cruzin” to the down right tough bar fight in “One Good Reason,” Dem Bums capture a very energetic sound and blasts it out your speakers. This is how swing is meant to be played, not that “popular” crap we hear on the radio. Very cool disc, buy it. - Denis Sheehan  

DIGGER- Trainwreck (Hopeless Records) Some catchy tunes on this disc, their fourth and most compelling release to date. Chorus-driven with enough textural variety to keep the uninitiated interested. A melodic hook introduces each song, setting the mood. Digger shows versatility by interpolating their themes--the band dropping out to highlight a vocal, rhythm, or texture--and by working against each other for contrast or together for emphasis. This allows them to use a lot of repetition without getting stale. However, you won't find complex counterpoint, polyrhythms, or dynamic changes on this EP; Digger are at their best playing straight-up get-to-the-point pop-punk. Chris Benner's vocals are seasoned but not gimmicky. The singing drives the songs forward and serves not to challenge the listener but to make a basic human connection with him. Urged to sing a long, you might find yourself chanting "I'll see you later...now's not the right time at all!" under your breath as your new mantra. The lyrics, while somewhat cliched, often contain references to lost lovers, loneliness, and personal tension. The problem is, this pathos never plays itself out. The vocals are delivered with the same affect, each syllable containing a sound and emotion robbed of all subtlety or nuance...as if the words retain little meaning to the singer. This dissolves potentially good songs, like "In a Heartbeat" into trite pep-cheers, the more introspective moments coming off as convoluted vagaries full of mixed-metaphors and empty allusions. With the exception of the acoustic "That's What I Get" (which sounds like a hollowed out cover of a Dinosaur Jr. song with new vocals and stripped down rhythm dubbed in), this is good radio-ready rock with a "hard-working band" edge. "The Right Time" is a great opener and sets the pace for the rest of the album. "Try and Catch Me" again has a driving chorus, speed-infused dub, and a charging double-time ending. Both are stand-out tracks. Trainwreck should win a placed in your stereo, and if they take the step up to projecting from their hearts and not just their amplifiers they have the potential for being a thoroughly engaging musical force.- Ryan McKay

 DISAPPOINTMENT INCORPORATED- F=0 (Time Bomb Recordings, 6 West 57th St., New York, NY, 10019) Some pretty good aggressive rock which focus on the more disappointing things in life. “America” starts the disc off and really pulls you in deep with it cutting guitar and gnashing vocals. The aggressive sounding rock is nothing ground breaking, but it is good enough to warrant your attention. Skip the slower songs-boring. The lyrics are very interesting, as is the entire disc. -Denis Sheehan

DREADNAUGHT- Down To Zero (The Music Cartel) I've come to know TMC as purveyors of serviceable, 70's-style stoner rock. This disc from Australia's Dreadnaught is also caught in a time warp of sorts but fast-forwards things a decade or so, offering the same kind of metal which bridged the gap between the glam-bands of the 80's and the whole Nirvana thing. I'm talking Circus of Power (remember them?), early Alice in Chains, and even, at Dreadnaught's worst moments, Candlebox. Lots of impassioned vocals about God-knows-what, slick production values, post-Zeppelin riffs, big thumpy drums -- yup, Dreadnaught covered all the bases. While retro isn't anything new, not many bands choose to revisit THIS particular time period. Who knows, maybe it has to do with being from Down Under -- it's a different time zone, water goes down the drain clockwise, dingos run rampant... For whatever reason, the band has taken a little trip back to Metalsville, USA circa 1990 and, if that sounds to you like a fun place to be, then by all means pick up a copy of 'Down to Zero' and join them. Although, it's not as if this kinda thing isn't finding a place on contemporary radio. If Creed didn't suck goats, they might sound a little like Dreadnaught. - Chris Wissmuller

 CHARLES DOUGLAS-The Burdens Of Genius (Voltage, BoxF7, 1000 Smith Level Rd, Carrboro, NC 27510) When I first listened to this disc I nearly threw up and tossed it into the garbage, but as I continued to listen it pulled me in and forced me to like it. Charles wrote and played every note on this disc. He has a tough time singing and the songs aren’t all that good, however, the lyrics are so cleverly written I had to listen. The more I listened, the more I liked it. The songs are basically Charles strumming away on a guitar and painfully singing his madness. This is a truly bizarre disc and I’m convinced  Mr. Douglas is insane. The bio on Charles describes him as “Lou Reed’s retarded little brother.” I think a better description is to say that Charles is the forbidden musical love child of Bob Dylan and Ween. Buy this disc for the experience. - Denis Sheehan

DIESEL BOY- Rode Hard And Put Away Wet (Honest Don’s) The songwriting on this fucker is brilliant (and I’m referring to more of a fun kind of brilliant than a serious kind of brilliant).  It’s the kind of stuff I wish I had the talent to come up with myself: interesting, often humorous lyrics combined with catchy, strong pop-punk musical chops.  “Emo Boy” is a dead-on portrait of a scenester type you’re probably familiar with (“he could hardly believe that Jawbreaker signed to DGC/he took it personally that Blake had lied”).  “65” chronicles a poor sap’s dilemma upon learning that his girlfriend has slept with 64 guys before him.  Yes, this territory was cheerily explored in the movie “Clerks,” but it still works here.  “Stroking My Cat” is a hilarious tribute to our generation’s most screwable women.  They have an acoustic gem, “Waltz of the Disappearing Girl,” that I can’t get out of my head.  Diesel Boy even does a seemingly non-tongue-in-cheek cover of the Lemonheads’ “Allison’s Starting to Happen” that also works well.  The rest of the songs, for the most part, are pretty cool too. In my short tenure as a CD reviewer (5 in total), this is the best thing I’ve heard by far. –Ben Hunter

 E-TOWN CONCRETE-Time 2 Shine (Resurrection A.D., POB 763, Red Bank, NJ 07701) Hard core metal music combined with rap style vocals reminiscent of Anthrax and Biohazard. Songs are about life in the inner city. Most of the songs are fast and insane, but there are a few tunes that are slowed down. “4 The Fame” is one of the slower songs and it happens to be the best song here. The guitar and drum work will keep the hard core metal fans drooling and the raspy, rap vocals will do the same for the rap fans. If you were in to that metal/rap scene that was popular in the early 90’s, you will love these guys. - Denis Sheehan

 ENEMY YOU- Where No One Knows My Name (Panic Button, POB 148010, Chicago, IL 60614-8010) Wow, fourteen song disc overflowing with three cord power punk with hard core tendencies. The music is powerful, fast, outstandingly melodic, and just plain catchy. Not only is the music great, but the lyrics are sung with charisma and smart. The title track will floor you! The vocals have an uncanny resemblance to Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin (when he was a young’en). This disc is a must have! –Denis Sheehan

 THE EPISODE (Whirled Records, POB 5431, Richmond, VA 23220) Eight insane hardcore songs from the former members of the legendary group Action Patrol. The songs are fast, very catchy, and loaded with rhythmic hooks and riffs. The songs also bounce back and forth in tempo, but does so just enough to keep you on your toes. David Grant’s vocals are just a loud and obnoxious as ever. It was genuinely great to hear him scream his heart out again. Great songwriting, great music, great…look, there is nothing negative about this disc. Just go buy it.- Denis Sheehan

THE EYELINERS - Here Comes Trouble (Panic Button) Fourteen highly energetic pop punk tunes from this female trio out of Alburuerque, NM. “Here Comes Trouble” is only the beginning of the ultra-melodic, hook filled songs. These girls (ladies, women) capture an attitude of frustration with romance and parlay it into some free wheeling pop punk worthy of any Ramones fan. “Rock-n-Roll Baby” could be the next punk rock anthem to seize America. Not only does Laura have a genuinely perfect, enough is enough singing voice, but she drums as if her fast forward button is stuck. Amazing! Gel’s guitar and Lisa’a bass will have you jumping up and down on your bed playing the ol’ air guitar. They say that females in the corporate world are held back by the “glass ceiling” Well, if The Eyeliners were in that world, that glass ceiling would be broken shards of glass laying dangerously, yet gloriously, afoot. – Denis Sheehan  

 EVAN AND JARON- We’ve Never Heard Of you Either (Island) Take The Indigo Girls and make them male. - Denis Sheehan

FABULOUS DISASTER- Put Out or Get Out (Band Site) This all female band has brilliantly taken the melodies of The Go-Go’s, the tempo of The Descendents, and spiced it all up with some nasty Joan Jett attitude to make up some damn cool pop punk. The complexity of “Red Blister” messes you up with intense versus and sweet sounding choruses. Very cool. Singer Laura Litter combines her soft and sexy sounding voice with an attitude that had me running for the hills more than once. One things for sure, you never know what you’re getting while listening to this disc. Although I have no idea what “Gia” is about, even after reading the words 400 times, I absolutely love it and can’t get the sound out of my dome. If you like other female punk bands such as The Donnas (come to me Donna C.) and The Eyeliners, this cd will make a great addition to your collection. Hell, this cd will make a great addition regardless. – Denis Sheehan

 FAKE BRAIN-So Glad You Came(Breakfast Records, 408 7th St. #4, Brooklyn, NY 11215) This is one of those few disc that irk the crap out of me. All of the songs are good, catchy, and fun rock with a hint of off kilter punk to it. But, all the songs also have something about them that ruins the song. Take for instance “Your Drunk Wife.” The song is very catchy until the lead singer decides to repeat the word “ever” about fifty times. If those annoying parts were edited out of the songs, this would be a great cd. The talent is there, but a little help is needed with the song compositions. - Denis Sheehan

FALL SILENT- Drunken Violence (Revelation Records) This band plays like how I like my women: tight, fast, and hard. This sounds a lot like Slayer, minus the oh-so-very metal dungeons & dragons lyrics, and have a slightly more hardcore sound with some cool breakdowns. The first song sounds like an exact rip off of "Angle of Death" off of Reign in Blood. Nice songs about America, skateboarding, and scenesters, but the world does not need a hardcore cover of Heart’s "Barracuda.” Nice production, and the picture on the back of the booklet alone makes this cd worth buying. It shows Jesus on the cross surrounded by some cherub angles beating the shit out of each other; complete with tones of blood, spilled intestine, broken bones, and baseball bats with nails in them. I'm sure their moms would be proud. - Denez McAdoo

FIVE HORSE JOHNSON- The No. 6 Dance (Small Stone) Imagine early ZZ Top playing the soulful parts of The Black Crows, while downing a fifth of Jack Daniel’s. Very raw sounding southern stoner rock. For some reason, I felt as if this cd told me a story with music cranking in the background. Pass the bottle….- Denis Sheehan

 THE FLUX- Vitamin Ass (Fan Attic Records, POB 391494, Cambridge, MA 02139-0015) Eighteen funny ass, goofy punk tunes. Some of the songs are rather annoying with all the weird yelling and noises. I must admit though, the lyrics are some of the funniest I’ve ever heard. Songs about smelly feet and a refrigerator repairman’s butt crack will knock you dead. “ Walking In The Desert” is my favorite song here because of Bridget Murphy’s sexy voice!  Great cover of Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass.”

FRENZAL RHOMB- Shut Your Mouth (Fat Wreck) These guys remind me of an Aussie-accented, edgier version of Green Day.  Before you dismiss anything mentioned in the same breath as Green Day as “sellout” or “too mainstream,” think about the first time you heard Dookie.  I bet you liked it.  When I was in high school, I fretted about the fact that the popular crowd had one day discovered “Add It Up” by the Violent Femmes, and it sort of cheapened it for me for awhile.  Eventually I realized that it wasn’t the band’s fault if lots of people liked them, and I got over my own music-snobbishness enough to once again appreciate the ‘Femmes for the geniuses they were.  But I digress.  Shut Your Mouth is chock-full of ear (nose and throat) candy.  The first song, “Everything’s Fucked,” is a rapid-fire 1:40 of gloriously abrupt starts and stops, and it’s blessed with an irresistible chorus.  I liked it so much I put it on a mix I’m making.  “The Best Guy” is a hauntingly melodic look at self-deprecation coupled with an even greater loathing of someone else.  Good stuff.  “Coming Home” and “All Hail The Weekend” have the potential to join the tiny percentage of modern rock radio hits that are actually good songs.  Frenzal Rhomb’s lead singer, Jason Pharlap Whalley, almost died recently due to heart trouble (and he apparently almost had his arm ripped from his body while crowd surfing during a show).  I’m glad he survived long enough to make this record.  As a bonus, if you pop this disc into your PC, you can watch a cool video. –Ben Hunter  

 FOUR LETTER WORD- A Nasty Piece Of Work (BYO Records, PO Box 67A64, Los Angeles, CA 90067)Good in your face punk that reminds me of very early Bad Religion. Nothing negative about this one. Although all the songs are cool, “Rich White Ghetto” is the best. Singer Welly has a great raspy singing voice much like Dicky Barrett of The Bosstones. - Denis Sheehan

 FRENZAL RHOMB-Once A Jolly Swagman, Always A Jolly Swagman(Liberation Records, Box 17746, Anaheim, CA 92817) Three previously Australian released recordings, Dick Sandwich, Sorry About The Ruse, and Coughing Up A Storm are released for the first time in America. Twenty four great pop-punk songs. Guitarist Ben Costello is unreal with his catchy chords and riffs. The entire disc is great. Buy it. - Denis Sheehan

 FUZZY- Hurray For Everything (Catapult Records, POB 390328, Cambridge, MA 02139) Great twelve song cd from these Boston popsters. The cd opens with rousting guitars in a very melancholic filled “Band Of Gold.” The disc slows down for the harmony laced “Summer Is Gone.” I don’t know why, but “Summer”made me want to ball my eyes out! The vocals are shared between Hilken Mancini and Chris Toppin and they sound beautiful. The vocals have a 50’s girl band sound with the way the duel and work off each other. The music is very catchy and loaded with melodies and harmonies. Although the entire disc is great, “Over The Edge” is my favorite here. It comes close to being a great pop punk tune. Check Fuzzy out. -Denis Sheehan

 

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