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January 2000 Goddamn-It-All Reviews

RATING SYSTEM | Acceptance | Barbara Adamson | G. G. Allin | The Busy Signals | The Criminals | Crooked Fingers | DJ Brian | The Drags | Carol Fredette | Genesis | House of Wires | Jughead's Revenge | Karma To Burn | Darrell Katz/Jazz Composers Alliance Saxophone Quartet | John Latartara & Khristian Weeks | Mechakucha | Mice Parade | Orange Hat | Pinehurst Kids | Matt Pond PA | Pop Unknown | Red Giant | T. Rex | The Unband | Violent Femmes | The Weakerthans | We Know Everything

= "Really Quite" EXCELLENT
= Just GOOD
= Oooooh...SHITTY!

Acceptance (Theoretical sort of thing kind of thing)
Sure, you can accept the world around why would you want to? Acceptance is the purest form of sissy, and to accept anyone or anything is a pure admission of softness. Although the media pushes tolerance and acceptance, anyone with more than an ounce of intelligence should know better than to adhere to these ridiculous concepts. When your friends ask for your patience and acceptance, you should drop them like a pewter bullet. When your family requests acceptance, you should condemn them for their beliefs and respond with hostility. It is so much easier to just say "no" in any given situation than to say "yes" why not do it? The ultimate dumb-dumb is accepting yourself. Why accept yourself when you know deep down within your stupid soul that are you are not really living up to your potential? You are now only half the woman you claim to confess now and begin the healing process. Acceptance is the sissyest form of delve down deep into your cosmic cowfield and feed on the passive aggression of others. (Rating: 2)

Barbara Adamson - Now Is The Time (CD, Stet, Jazz/female vocalist)
Thanks to increasingly infamous and influential jazz promoter Dave Ginochio, our world has expanded beyond the often times tedious world of alternative and underground rock music to include the intriguing undercurrents currently happening in modern jazz. As usual, the criteria is...if we like it, we'll review it. Classy broad vocalist Barbara Adamson has a sultry and inviting vocal style that melds in perfectly amidst the dreamy backdrop provided by her accompanying support band. It's music for dinner when dinner goes beyond merely dinner to extraordinary experience...something that we have never experienced. However, anyone can now experience the sheer delight of classy sexy female vocalist jazz dinner music...because you can pop this in at home. And believe us...that frozen dinner will taste a HELL of a lot better than it did yesterday. Try it. Twelve tempting tunes including "April In Paris" (this is real nice), "Yesterdays," and "Get It Straight" (is she trying to tell us something?). This is simply super. Find out more at (Rating: 5)

G. G. Allin - Res-Erected (CD, ROIR, Rock)
No matter what you think of him, G. G. Allin is a legendary figure in the world of rock music. Even without having any songs that anyone really knew or cared about, he managed to become famous the world over by his actions alone. Bloodying himself, stripping down to nothing, eating his own feces, punching out audience members...these became standards that folks expected at a G. G. Allin concert. Unlike many so called "punk rockers"...this man was real. He wasn't trying to make have a be accepted...or anything of the like. The man simply got off by shocking people and pushing the limits of what one could get away with in public. we have some live tunes by G. G. These "songs" are, for the most part, rather average and samey noisy punk. The sound is tinny, the playing is sloppy but passable...and one song sounds pretty much like the last. But because this man made such a mark in history, I still find this interesting. If you have the choice, buy a video and watch it. Mr. Allin was definitely a visual experience... (Rating: 3)

The Busy Signals - Baby's First Beats (CD, Sugar Free, Pop)
The Busy Signals is the band name that Minneapolis home recording artist Howard Hamilton III has chosen to use in releasing his music. Mr. Hamilton's rhythm happy pop music sounds like a great many artists, without necessarily sounding too much like any specific one(s). While the compositions on Baby's First Beats are, for the most part, light and easy pop...they also have certain intelligent aspects that set them apart from many other modern pop artists. Hamilton's voice sounds somewhat like Thomas Dolby or even the guys from Harpers Bizarre...but he's certainly not taking himself as seriously (thank GOD...). Plenty of simple tunes like "Headphoneworld" and "Clogged Airways" make this disc an interesting listen... (Rating: 4)

The Criminals - Burning Flesh and Broken Fingers (CD, Adeline, Punk rock/pop)
Loud, loose, snotty punk rock/pop from an anxious band. The Criminals are raw, in-your-face, and full of genuine attitude. Beginning with the tune "The Angry Ouija Board Has Sent Us To Destroy The City of Berkeley California So Run For Your Fucking Life" (whew) and then proceeding to rip through twelve other numbers, the band never lets up. The guitars are brash buzzsaws...and the singer has a superb and convincing snarl. These tunes owe a great deal to the original punk bands of the seventies...but they are infused with a definite modern anger. Loud and frantic stuff... (Rating: 4)

Crooked Fingers - Crooked Fingers (CD, Warm, Pop)
Eric Bachmann, formerly of Archers of Loaf and Barry back with a new project/band called Crooked Fingers. It's good. Bachmann has a nice manner of composing melodies...he knows the use of restraint...and the guy's got a killer voice. The debut disc under this moniker, Crooked Fingers presents tunes that range from sweet and direct to moody Tom Waits territory. Ten great tunes here...and the recording quality is not too warm nor too hot... It is juuuuuuuust right. Although I would have liked to have had a break from the overly serious theme for a tune or two...this still gets a thumbs up because of the sheer talent... (Rating: 4)

DJ Brian - Hardesertrance 3: Son of the Moon (CD, Moonshine, Desert trance/dance)
Although we've never been to a "desert rave"...after hearing this, we'd sure like to attend one. The idea is great. Instead of dancing and grooving to cool music is some smelly rathole filled with assholes and cigarette smoke (which is what most clubs amount to)...why not take a P.A. out into the desert and play trippy dance music out in the the desert under a full moon? If there's one thing that people need, it is to learn that the outdoors is better than the indoors. If the weather is good, why stay inside? We never do. DJ Brian must feel the same way, as the raves that he arranges concentrate on the outdoors. This disc features music by a slew of artists including Human Movement, Gravital Force, Joshua Ryan, Salt Talk, and many more... Spacey and beat happy, this is a nice way to strip yourself raw into the year 2000... (Rating: 4)

The Drags - Set Right Fit to Blow Clean Up (CD, Estrus!, Garage rock)
Yet more hard nosed garage rock on the ultra-dada Estrus! label. I'd sure like to know where the band got the name for this disc ("Set Right Fit to Blow Clean Up"). I'd bet it was some line they heard a drunk say whilst packing up their equipment to leave a club on some particular night. But...I could be wrong. The sound? The Drags play a heady guitar infused garage rock style like there ain't no bananas in Cincinnatti. "This is the Sound of Hard Rock"..."Night Rider"..."Black Light"... Some of these tunes remind me somewhat of St. Johnny (does anything know whatever happened to them?). "Modern Man" sounds something like David Bowie's Alladin Sane album. The tunes go all over the place, and get louder the more you listen to them. This is a hell of a rockin' CD with too much of everything going on all at once...but the constant beat of the rhythm remains. Psychedelic crazy. (Rating: 4)

Carol Freedette - Everything I Need (CD, Brownstone Recordings, Jazz/pop/female vocalist)
Music used to be a good thing. Instead of a clamoring mountain of useless hopefuls drowning an uninterested public in their egotistical attempts to produce good music, many musical artists of decades past actually had talent and some magical ability that actually set them apart from the rest of the dreary world. Vocalist Carol Freedette picks up the torch long left behind by jazzy female vocalists of the fourties and fifties...with surprisingly realistic results. Backed up by an impressive array of studio musicians, Ms. Freedette's free, smooth, and ultra sexy voice will have you scooting around on the sidewalk for days. On this disc, she covers tunes by Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough...two incredible songwriters. Listening to this makes me feel like I'm inside some old smokey bar with a bunch of black and white movie stars sitting across the room. Beautiful stuff. Includes show stoppers like "I've Got Just About Everything," "Listen Here," and "I Got To Get Me Some ZZZ." Great. (Rating: 5)

Genesis - Turn It On Again (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Possibly the best band to emege from the progressive rock era of the seventies, Genesis was amazing both in the music they created and in their live shows. Combining beautifully complex arrangements, heady psychedelic lyrics and bizarre costumes, the band released several mindblowing albums...specifically Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England By the Pound, and, finally, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. As is so often the case, success went to the heads of the progressive five...causing lead singer Peter Gabriel to leave the band. Gabriel and the Genesis leftovers each made a couple of fair to good albums on their own...and then each promptly sold out in order to make money and gain even more fame. The last decade has seen one shitty release after another from both parties, proving that any creativity that any of the artists once had was literally way down deep in the toilet never to be seen or heard again. Now, more than ever, we would bet that these arrogant nobodys would really like to "turn it on again"...but when you've turned it completely off for two decades, is it really possible? Judging by the sound of this collection of "hits" just cannot be. The "remake" of "Carpet Crawlers" sucks the "big one." No wonder everyone "loves" them now. They are "shitty." (Rating: 1)

House of Wires - Monogamy (CD, Plastiqmusiz/Tooth & Nail, Electronic pop)
There are far, far too many electronic pop artists in the world who think that they are going to achieve instant fame simply because they can twiddle a few knobs on some electonic gadgets and create a song. Fortunately this glut of "pseudo" artists makes it very easy to spot the real thing. House of Wires is the rather splendidly sophisticated electronic duo consisting of Jon Sonnenberg and Robert Guschow. The electronics are smart and not overdone...the vocals super slick and smooth...and the songs are just odd enough to sound different, while retaining definite accessibility. Recording quality is impeccable. Excellent tunes include "Away," "The Door With 5000 Locks," "Solitaire," and "Belief." These guys are GOOD. (Rating: 4)

Jughead's Revenge - Pearly Gates (CD, Nitro, Rock/pop)
Touring maniacs Jughead's Revenge are back with another torcher. The band produces chunky punk pop nuggets that you can put in your pocket and crunch. Without the use of frills or gimmicks, the band manages to be purely and simply entertaining throughout all fourteen tunes on Pearly Gates. It's an all-out buzzsaw guitar affair with hyperactive rhythms and snotty vocals. Just when you catch your breath from one tune, the next one begins... Underneath the surface noise, however, this is really first and foremost a pop band... (Rating: 4)

Karma To Burn - Wild Wonderful Purgatory (CD, MIA, Hard rock instrumentals)
Heavy duty instrumental contenders Karma To Burn are back with another hearty slab of Sabbath-infected instrumental music for the underground masses. What initially drew me to this band when they started was that they were NOT playing surf music... Now that they've been at it a while, they're tighter than ever...and even heavier than before. This is neither wimpy nor pure noise... This band plays instrumental music that smacks of smack and heavy doses of methamphetamine. They've got the right sound, along with the right style. Hats off to MIA (one of the greatest new labels of the past decade) for picking up this band's travel logs. Rock it, baby...rock it to HELL! (Rating: 4)

Darrell Katz/Jazz Composers Alliance Saxophone Quartet - I'm Me and You're Not (CD, Brownstone Recordings, Jazz/saxophone)
The only thing I love better than the sound of a saxophone is the sound of several saxophones. And that is particularly true in the case of the Jazz Composers Alliance Saxophone Quartet (founded by Darrell Katz). Playing a variety of selections that range from somewhat straightforward to downright bizarre and uneasy, this quartet is not afraid to take risks. Sometimes the musicians are perfectly in synch with one another...and at other times things sound like they are quite simply falling apart into eensy teensy pieces. Some segments remind me of the saxophone stuff from early Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart recordings. This sounds good played soft or really, really loud. Some of the compositions feature vocals, but I prefer the pure instrumentals. Great stuff that doesn't neatly fit into a given category. Definitely a recommended listen... (Rating: 4)

John Latartara & Khristian Weeks - With For Intoned (CD, Sachimay, Modern classical)
Mmmmmmmmmmmm! No matter how much I hear of it, I just can't get enough of modern classical music. Either there are very few independent labels releasing this sort of music...or we're just not on the right mailing lists (HINT HINT HINT)! Whatever the case...this is a very peculiar collection of compositions by two new artists. The compositions on With For Intoned are basic subtle experiments with sound and instrumentation. "Layers of Manipulation," the opening track, is a very sparse and accidental piano piece with some strange tape manipulations adding obtuse ambience. "False People" features a very slow, eerie string quintet. "Interactions" is just plain abstract and uneasy. The last two compositions are fragmented and accidental. This is the kind of stuff that I enjoy...but that probably alienates a great many listeners. Very obscure, esoteric stuff... (Rating: 5)

Mechakucha - One Million Safe Hours (CD, Frenetic, Instrumental)
The more vocal music we hear, the more instrumental music we like. Don't get us wrong...we love hearing someone talented sing...but most of the people who presently sing have no talent. Now ain't that the truth? Anyhoo...the band at hand here is Mechakucha, and they're damn good. They play a roving, rollicking style of music that varies from tune to tune and from minute to minute. At times things are simple and direct, and at yet other times things are intense and furious. The music is driven by electric guitar, but this is NOT "wall of noise" stuff. While the guitars are loud and at times noisy, there is skill and precision in what is being played. The bass player and drummer are right in synch with one another...making this three piece sound much, MUCH bigger than they really are. There is POWER deep down in them digital grooves. This is something like seventies progressive rock with a nineties sound and slant. Intriguing. This one doesn't sound like all the others...! (Rating: 4)

Mice Parade - Ramda (CD, Bubble Core, Varied)
This is a heady collection of compositions. A very heady collection of musical compositions. A very heady confusing collection of musical compositions. A very atmospheric continually evolving very heady confusing collection of musical compositions. Is anyone still reading? Hopefully those paying attention may very well enjoy this here goddamn disc as much as these little wurfliss bastards on the hill. It took not one...not two...not three...but FOUR listens for us to come to our conclusions about this one. These very mature...very obtuse and slightly obtuse...songs take you quite by surprise. Sort of like dreaming in your waking state. Or waking in your dream state. Whatever, Julia. Whatever. Just as you think you know what this artist is about, things change into something else altogether. Bubble Core is, quite simply, one of the few truly unique independent labels...having its very own sound and image...and Mice Parade fits right in there with the most peculiar of 'em. This is worth seeking out. Really. We mean really. (Rating: 5)

Orange Hat - Pufferfish (CD, Oringe, Pop)
I can think of few bands from the southeastern United States who have the vocal harmony thing down as well as Orange Hat. These guys put layers upon layers of vocals together better than you will believe. This is quickly becoming a trademark of their sound. On Pufferfish, the band once again introduces straightforward pop mixed in with more than a tad of wacky pack. Nowadays the overall sound is something like Squeeze mixed with Redd Kross mixed an assortment of several hundred other bands past and present. What is most notable about this disc is the complexity of the songwriting and playing. The tunes may sound easy and simple...but the arrangements and melodies are actually quite sophisticated. This is a band in the truest sense of the word. Everyone sings...and everyone has an integral role to play in making this band's sound so identifiable. Also amazing is the sound quality, given that this is an independent release. This could easily be picked up and distributed by a major label without any adjustments necessary whatsoever. Fourteen slightly offbeat little popsters here including "My Mood Ring," "Liquid Me," "Pop Up Holy Book," and "Squidhead Farmplow"... The band's sense of humor remains intact. (Rating: 5)

Pinehurst Kids - Viewmaster (CD, Four Alarm, Pop/rock)
Punchy, direct guitar pop from three young and energetic innovators. Unfortunately around this stuck-up-in-the-forest office, we are currently receiving so many music releases by guitar pop bands that virtually all of them tend to blur out into a haze of indistinction. Fortunately, however, we still know something good when we hear it. Pinehurst Kids is something very good. These three young musicians manage to inject their guitar pop with enough genuine melodies and sincere spirit to make it an overtly enjoyable experience. The songs are simple and straightforward...and the breathy, urgent vocals work just right. Nice minimal production completes the picture. Our initial favorites are "Burn Alone," "Me Wrong," and "Don't Worry." Neat stuff, full of open-eyed wonder... (Rating: 4)

Matt Pond PA - Measure (CD, Esque, Pop With Strings)
We always forget how much we love great pop music with strings attached...until we hear an artist who really knows how to make it work in their favor. Matt Pond's songs certainly lend themselves to having the support of a string section. Emotional, languished, yearning pop tunes with that are both somewhat distant yet very close are pushed to a cool new level by killer arrangements. The beautiful bird cover art gives you a hint of what's inside. This is not corporate ultra-slick produced slop...nor is it underground "we're trying so desperately hard to sound really strange and different that we actually sound quite stupid" pop. Instead, these tunes are basic and accessible...pushed to a cool new level simply by adding layers of instruments to achieve just the right effect. Of course, melodies are king in this baggy ol' pasture...and that's where his disc really kicks Betty's ass. Great melodies abound...the lyrics are your better shade of tangerine...and the vocals are as bad as Chucky himself. Everything adds up. With a little more variety, the next disc could be a "6"... This is great stuff, worthy of your attention... Really. (Rating: 5)

Pop Unknown - If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra (CD, Deep Elm, Pop/rock)
Something like a power pop version of late XTC, Pop Unknown is an exercise of guitar excursions and urgent strident vocals. The band was formed from fragments of other bands (including Mineral), and they seem to have already found their niche. Many of these tunes are surprisingly radio-friendly...particular "Head in the Sand" (the opening track). It's an alternative guitar rock band kinda thing happening for sure. This oughta go over big with the college radio kiddies... (Rating: 4)

Red Giant - Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound (CD, MIA/Tee Pee, Rock)
Rockin' seventies psychedelia. Musculine and raw, Red Giant have a great many similarities to bands like Fu Manchu and Nebula. The basic idea is to have the bass player and drummer flail away in their very best haze of marijuana smoke while the guitar is turned up way past "11" and the vocalist kind of speak/sings in a trance-like state. It's all in the name of seventies retrospective to be certain...but when it's done right, it still sounds DAMN good... And these guys are certainly doing it RIGHT. This husky little doozer features twelve tunes of overdriven delight...including "1960 Starchief" and "Kill For Condors." Cool stuff. Recommended for those into seventies fuzz music... (Rating: 4)

T. Rex (Best and most overlooked musical artist of the 1900s kind of person kind of thing, Perfect pop/rock)
In looking back over the past 100 years, our increasingly influential opinion is that Marc Bolan (and his band T. Rex) was the best and most unique musical artist of the 1900s. The criteria for making such a decision? Considering how so many artists have affected us, the most crucial variable had to be that one particular artist who affected us in the most unique manner. The choice was obvious. Beginning with the album My People Were Fair and Had Sky In Their Hair But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows on through and ending with Tanx, Marc Bolan introduced a sort of music into the world that had not been (and has not been since) heard. Though in his very early hippy phase his music was mainly forgettable blues and rockabilly styled folk, that eventually melded into the oddest brand of pop ever created. Mr. Bolan's greatest and most overlooked talent was his ability to write intensely confusing lyrics. Although the words in his tunes on the surface seemed nonsensical, taken within the context of the melodies...and particularly his emotive manner of singing...the abstract words somehow took on an alarming urgency and sense of esoteric knowledge. Listening to the eight great T. Rex albums now, they sound even better than they did when they were released in the sixties and seventies. It is unfortunate that, to most Americans, Marc Bolan was nothing more than a short little oddball character with corkscrew hair who appeared on the scene briefly wearing glitter eyeshadow and singing "Bang A Gong (Git It On)." A great recording to be certain...but also most certainly not his best work. Not even lesser hits like "Jeepster," "Ride A White Swan," and "Metal Guru" caputed the real essence of what Bolan was capable of. Some better reference points would be "The Throat of Winter," "A Day Laye," "Jewel," "Dove," "Seagull Woman," "Cosmic Dancer," "Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart," "The Time Of Love Is Now," "Find A Little Wood," "Suneye," "One Inch Rock"... There are countless others we could mention here, but the point is that there was a period of several years when Marc Bolan was producing pop music that transcended the medium itself...and probably also transcended his ability to even know what he was doing at the time. More than merely a poet making pop music, he became seen in many peoples' eyes as some sort of mystical bopping prophet who had come to save pop music. a way...he did. Sadly, success had increasingly negative Marc became obsessed with his own fame and began producing dribble like Futuristic Dragon (his worst album ever) and Zinc Alloy (would someone please kill Gloria Jones?). The crucial releases that must be heard are (1) the previously mentioned My People Were Fair... (2) Phophets, Seers, and Sages, the Angels of the Ages, (3) Unicorn, (4) A Beard of Stars, (5) T. Rex, (6) Electric Warrior, (7) The Slider, and (8) Tanx. For anyone who ever missed any of these recordings, it would be well worth your time to absorb these priceless yet increasingly obscure gems... (Rating: 10)

The Unband - Retarder (CD, TVT, Rock)
You could color us skeptical after reading the bio that accompanied this disc. You know, the usual "this band really rocks harder than other bands" blah blah blah blah schlop... But in all actuality, TVT Publicist Jason was right on the mark with every claim he made about this band. MAN DO THEY ROCK. We know that sounds silly as hell saying such a trite and overused phrase...but swear to Goddamn, it is true! These guys have major balls to be dealt with, as is obvious on blowout tunes like "Geez Louise," "Ski Hat," "Crack Soundtrack," "Cocaine Whore" and more. Whew! Blistering rhythm section, heavy duty guitars straight from the tool chest, and a really intense vocalist. It all adds up to much more beef than is currently available in other brands...and better songs to boot. A great way to start out 2000, Retarder is one STRAIGHT DOSE OF HARD ROCK. Goddamn...this tastes GOOD! (Rating: 5)

Violent Femmes - Viva Wisconsin (CD, Beyond/BMG, Pop)
Many many years ago, the Violent Femmes burst upon the scene...sporting a Jonathan Richman type of lineup and a different approach to pop music. The band's initial shows and recordings were hot, hot, HOT...but as they continued along their path, the band began adding more instrumentation, overdubs, and polish...which only made their music duller and less interesting. Although not a fan of live recordings (who is?), this is an interesting one. All the tracks on Viva Wisconsin were recorded during an all acoustic tour the band did in Wisconsin in 1998. What does it sound like? sound just like the band did when they started...! Hey...I guess it's never too late to remember where you came from. I hope a new stripped down studio album is in the works...because these guys still obviously have what they had when they had it in the first place... (Rating: 3)

The Weakerthans - Fallow (CD, Sub City, Rock/pop)
This band first caught our attention as we were watching a punk video compilation recently... All the bands looked and sounded virtually the same...and then a video came on for the song "Diagnosis" by The Weakerthans. We immediately perked up our crusted little ears and took note of the band and song. Not a day later as we were going through our review stack, we were excited as cheese balls to come across the band's latest CD. The band plays pop/rock using a basic guitar/bass/drums setup. So what's so different you ask? Several things: (1) The band's materal is super strong and inventive; (2) the vocalist sings rather than screams; (3) the playing is super simple, yet tight as a monkey's tie tack; (4) they are not "trying too hard"; and lastly, (5) the lyrics are light years beyond normal. Sold yet? In all honesty, it is very difficult to explain why it is that this band's pop/rock music is so much better than what you normally hear. It just has that certain...something...that makes it unique and very, very real. Trust us. We know what is going on (or at least we thinks we duzz!). Twelve great tunes including "Diagnosis," "None of the Above," "Leash," and "Greatest Hits Collection." Quite the exciting and cool band indeed... GREAT STUFF!!! (Rating: 5)

We Know Everything (Obvious kind of fact kind of thing)
We know everything...and we are proud of it. We have always known that we knew everything ever since we were very small children. But now...thanks to the fabulous Internet and all the millions of incredible great people all over the is no longer a secret. Although it took them a very long time to realize it, now the rest of the world is also aware that we know everything as well. The best part? We are now able to share our great fountain of knowledge with more people than ever before. What a great goddamn feeling... Never having to ask anyone anything...never forgetting anything...the power of knowledge truly is a retarded thing of the past. And why shouldn't it be? Knowing anything is as obvious as you think it is before you start getting resentful. Try that on for size. Tina. Isn't it a pretty new century, kids? There's a lot more to hate now than ever before. To know everything is to hate it all. So long, Nebraska. This ride's going to be a jolt... (Rating: 2)

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