Grassy Little June 1998 Reviews

RATING SYSTEM | airport noises | Ativin | Bad Religion | Bird Tragedies | Eric Bogosian | Bon Voyage | Butterfly Child | Darwin Chamber | Charming Hostess | Chixdiggit! | Chocolate Bunnies | Claudia Malibu | The Connells | The Crap Detectors | David Frankel Band | dayinthelife... | Donovan's Brain | The Dylan Group | Electric Frankenstein | Emil Muzz | Emmet Swimming | Engine | Errortype: 11 | David Fischoff | Flu Thirteen | Funny Not Funny | The Gandharvas | Garbage | David Garza | Hayden | Jetenderpaul | Anders Johansson | Jens Johansson | Paul Kelly | Komeda | Love Nut | The Lunkheads | The Mayfield Four | The Mill Valley Taters | Miss Bliss | My Trousers | New Radiant Storm King | Nobodys | Orifice | The Retarded Bastards | Snuff | Stinky Darling | Subsonics | Suicide | Sulfur | The Summer Suns | Training For Utopia | Tranquility Bass | VAST | The Vindictives | Don Walser | The Why Store | WIZO

*Additional Items Received*


airport noises - Last Flight In (CD, Dog Day, Pop)
Really good sing songy bubblegummy pop music with a definite sixties flavor. Austin transplants airport noises are now based in Doraville, Georgia...but they don't really sound like bands from either state. The band's quickly strummed pop ditties are short, direct, and to the point. Some of this material reminds me of United States Three at times. The vocal harmonies are right on...and I particularly like the fact that these songs are recorded using the bare essentials to get the ideas across. The xeroxed cover adds to the disc's appeal. Fourteen chart toppers (in a perfect world), including "Page 13," "Happy Vacant Stares," "Christian Lust," and "Box." Real fun. (Rating: 4)

ATIVIN - German Water (CD, Secretly Canadian, Guitar instrumental)
Note: This is a guitar instrumental band...NOT A SURF BAND (thank GOD ALMIGHTY)!!! Instead of playing the same old deadbeat crap that most guitar instrumental bands grovel in, the three guys in Ativin are much more heady. Their loose, atmospheric guitar instrumentals are puzzling and just a slight bit obtuse. Instead of blowing chunks out with overdrive and fuzz, the guitars are clean and clear...and the rhythms change around almost constantly. This is not the kind of thing that's going to be heating up the airwaves (unfortunately). Instead, this is the kind of band whose talent will be spread by word of mouth. And word will spread about these guys. They're damn good...and they stand out on the sheer basis of their talent. This disc is a great listen from start to finish. Cool, dammit. Very cool. (Rating: 4)

BAD RELIGION - No Substance (CD, Atlantic, Rock/pop)
Pulling their tenth full-length out from under their trousers, Bad Religion is definitely a band with staying power. This CD follows in the same footsteps as The Gray Race. Instead of playing every song at the same blinding speed as the band did on their early releases, No Substance offers a lot more variety in tempos and styles. This just might be Bad Religion's most accessible album yet, judging from the sing-songy choruses of tunes like "Shades of Truth" and "The Biggest Killer in American History." The anti-Christian symbol that is seen throughout the cover and booklet is tedious to be certain...but the songs contained within are the same sort of punchy, loud, hooky tunes that this band's fans have come to expect. (Rating: 4)

Having just gone through an intense week of Bird Tragedies, the events seemed to warrant a review. FIRST, my cat brought home a live parakeet (!?). Although the poor bird was in shock from a grueling torture, it still managed to perch on my finger. I made a makeshift cage and put the bird inside. Although it even ate some of the bird seed in the cage, when I awoke the next morning the bird was dead with its feet in the air. Very sad. The SECOND tragedy concerned bird nests on my front porch. As if one bird nest wasn't enough to deal with, another bird family started building a nest. This wouldn't have been a problem except the porch was starting to stink from all the bird shit. I finally got a ladder and pulled the nests down, only to find two baby birds inside one of the nests. Upsetting the nest was most troubling, so I put it back. But when I did, one of the two baby birds fell I picked it up and put it back. (Have you ever picked up a featherless baby bird? It feels very much like holding an old man's testicles.) I was certain the mother bird would reject her chicks, but she didn't. Now there are FOUR goddamn baby birds in the goddamn nest on my goddamn front porch. Two days later, the THIRD tragedy occurred. The second bird mother had returned to re-build her nest on the porch. When I removed it, the single egg inside broke to pieces. Enough remourse already. At this point, the abortion seemed warranted. After all, her first nest had been torn out and thrown away. If she was stupid enough to re-build it in the same place, then fuck her goddamn egg. (Rating: 1)

ERIC BOGOSIAN - Pounding Nails in the Floor With My Forehead (CD, The Blackbird Recording Company, Standup comedy)
While standup comedians rarely do a damn thing for my prissy little package, Eric Bogosian made me laugh within the first minute of this disc. This guy is rough, out of control, nonsensical, and just plain dirty. The characters this man creates are believable. He's almost like a male Lily Tomlin in that he creates characters and then allows them to interact with his audience. This isn't something I could listen to more than a couple of times, but it's good for some laughs. Entertaining. (Not Rated)

BON VOYAGE - Bon Voyage (CD, B.E.C., Pop)
This band sounds something like Ivy, except they're not as direct and their guitars are louder. The nucleus of the band is the recently married Julie and Jason Martin. Julie was previously a member of the unfortunately overlooked Havalina Rail Co. and Jason still maintains his "other" band, the critically acclaimed Starflyer 59. This is basic, breathy, and at times extremely fuzzed out pop music with extremely smooth vocals. Bon Voyage are at their best when they keep it clean and dreamy ("West Coast Friendship"). Mighty good stuff, but I have the feeling this band's best material is yet to come... (Rating: 4)

BUTTERFLY CHILD - Soft Explosives (CD, Hitit!, Pop)
Really excellent, intelligent, super melodic pop music with cool arrangements. It is rare to come across a virtually unknown artist this good. Butterfly Child is a recording entity led by an Irish fellow named Joe Cassidy. This fellow can write tunes that squash out millions of other songwriters. His cool, clear, urgent vocals turn these tunes into instant home runs. Cassidy's emotional threads are real, and the tunes he weaves are the sort of things that will sound good years from now. With so many pop wannabees out there, this guy stands out like a sorely needed thumb. A purely solid CD featuring gems such as "Big Soft Mouth," "Holy Hymn," "1929," and "The Sound of Love Breaking Apart." Yes. (Rating: 5)

DARWIN CHAMBER - The Ghetto Electro Chronicles (CD, Moonshine, Techno/dance)
One of the biggest problems with the world is that people take themselves and what they do way too seriously. Possibly the second biggest problem is that everyone wants to fit into one specific style or scene. Given these unfortunate truths, it is refreshing to come across an artist like Darwin Chamber. The world of techno and dance is unfortunately overrun with people more concerned with their hair and clothing than their music, and most of them overproduce their music to oblivion. Mr. Chamber's dance music is simple, clean, and upbeat. And for all intensive purposes, the man looks like Mr. Normal. These light, airy dance tracks flow by very nicely indeed. This disc consists of previous EPs from Darwin as well as some killer new tracks. This is a very cool CD. (Rating: 5)

CHARMING HOSTESS - Eat (CD, Vaccination, Obtuse whatever)
Weird stuff that's about as odd as the cover artwork. Any band that starts off with a traditional Bulgarian tune is definitely coming from a completely different direction. Not surprising, seeing as how these folks were originally members of Idiot Flesh (an amazingly obtuse outfit in their own right). Often is the case when we hear a CD that is very unusual, but just not so good. Charming Hostess is a refreshing exception to this rule. These folks manage their bizarre collage of styles with the greatest of ease...making this overly strange concoction sound as smooth as cream cheese. One of the things that makes this disc such a superb listen is the extremely high quality of the disc as well as the intense attention to detail. I haven't heard anything like this on any label anywhere anytime. Instead of recording any particular style of music, these inventive folks have created their own. Mighty bold stuff. (Rating: 5)

CHIXDIGGIT! - Born on the First of July (CD, Honest Don's, Power pop/punk)
This band is a perfect blend of Cheap Trick and The Shoes, with the intense kick of the Buzzcocks thrown in. There are few bands I've heard do the power pop/punk thing this well. This is right up there with Bracket (a band that is a vastly underrated GAS...). This band plays like a stomping tornado, but it's those breathy, mindblowing vocals that push this completely over the edge. It's funny how so few bands realize how to set yourself apart from everyone: Be direct and simple. Chixdiggit!'s charming hyper pop tunes are as instantly catchy as Teletubbie custard. If you think all hard pop bands sound the same, these guys will prove you wrong. This is The Ramones for the power pop set. Blindingly hummable tunes like"Gettin Air," "My Girl's Retro," "Quit Your Job," "My Restaurant," "Ohio," and "Brunette Summer" are about fifty times better than the best of the best. Do I dig this? Whether or not this band becomes popular is irrelevant. Here in 'les baby la la' they be an instant rockin' HIT. This will certainly be one of our favorites of the year. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!! (Rating: 6)

Now is time to expose TRUTH about Chocolate Bunnies. For years everyone eating little rabbits, liking sweet taste and funny to see. Now media exposing truth about what bunnies made of, and many people plenty upset. So what made of you asking? We tell you now! Bunnies made of smelly excrement from pig and horse, molded into rabbit like format! We wonder how many people excited to eat Chocolate Bunnies now, knowing real truth!?! Most people not like anymore. and we very glad. It mean all bunnies get to eat by us...and this we are LIKING VERY MUCH!!! (Rating: 2)

CLAUDIA MALIBU - Can't Hold Back the Rocket (CD EP, Wormco, Pop)
Claudia Malibu is NOT a female. It is a pop band. It is a very GOOD pop band. It is a very good pop band consisting of members from other bands (New Radiant Storm King, The Veronica Cartwrights, Lucky Pierre, and The Caroline Know). This band's pop music is extremely catchy and intelligent, bringing to mind certain mid-eighties pop bands. Though all the songs are cool, my favorite is the sadly introspective "My Empty Pocket Dreams." This EP has whet my goddamn appetite, and now I is hungry. I want...MORE. Give me...MORE... (Rating: 4)

THE CONNELLS - Still Life (CD, TVT, Pop)
Everyone needs a break, even if it is forced by an unfortunate event. After several years at it, The Connells were forced to cancel a tour because vocalist Doug MacMillan was diagnosed with diverticulitus and had to undergo surgery. He has thankfully recovered now and the band has returned to their mission to provide simple, straightforward, hummable pop music. This band has always been strong in the Melody Department, and this remains true with Still Life. This time around, the band's music has a more homegrown sound...but those ringing guitars and steady rhythms remain. The title track is our favorite here. A welcome comeback from a band that is enjoyed by a wide cross section of folks... (Rating: 4)

THE CRAP DETECTORS - Cat Patrol (CD, Blimp Kitty, Rock)
This is the best Crap Detectors release I have heard thus far. This band has really become somewhat of a musical chameleon. Occasionally sounding like Redd Kross and at most other times sounding like X, this underground Seattle band provides rollicking good time music. And if you think female rhythm sections can't pump it out like the guys, then you must hear this band. Minday Barret (drums, vocals, piano) and Andrea Burgess (bass, vocals) pack a mighty punch...and provide a decidedly solid backdrop for Jim Jacobi's ferocious guitar and big boy vocals. The band's sense of humor is still intact, as is evidenced by tunes like "Cat Patrol," "Blue In Suburbia," "Hell," and "Corporate America." Check out the band's web site at Cool stuff. (Rating: 5)

DAVID FRANKEL BAND - Deep Blue Goodbye (CD, Anonymous Rex, Pop)
Pleasantly pleasant. The David Frankel Band is a surprisingly accessible little outfit...churning out catchy pop ditties with ease and style. The music is basic pop/rock, but it's Mr. Frankel's vocals that make this disc a treat. This is neither alternative rock nor commercial pop slop. This music sounds as if it's coming from the heart, and as we should all know by now...that's what matters most (at least in these ultra plush offices). Lotsa nice arrangements here...and the band's material is much more diverse than your standard fare. Quite enjoyable, yes indeedy do... (Not Rated)

dayinthelife... - dayinthelife... (CD, Building/TVT, Rock)
Swirling nineties rock music that should appeal to fans of Jane's Addiction. This band's moody, hard rock music is characterized by fuzzed out guitars, a real screamer of a vocalist, and tons of echo. Instead of going for catchy, commercial tunes, dayinthelife... take a more progressive approach. This is a band that I feel certain will be most appreciated by teenage boys. Why? Don't ask why. Just accept what Jesus says and keep your big black mouth shut. (Not Rated)

DONOVAN'S BRAIN - Carelessly Restored Art (CD, Get Hip Recordings, Psychedelic pop)
Obtuse pop music. Donovan's Brain is the brainchild of Ron Sanchez. The music is hazy, psychedelic pop music with all kinds of skewed sounds and bizarre arrangements...very sixties influenced, yet there's an obvious nineties style to most of the tunes. Mr. Sanchez sure gets around. There are no less than fourteen (!?!) musicians adding their talents to this disc...including such notables as Kurt Bloch and Tad Hutchison. Eleven tunes, including "50,000,000 Years Before My Time" and "Dandelions Are Back" (our favorite). Very trippy, very cool. (Rating: 4)

THE DYLAN GROUP - Reinterpreted (CD, Bubble Core, ???)
The Dylan Group created quite an underground buzz with their last release entitled It's All About (Rimshots & Faulty Wiring). The band easily stood out from the pack because there aren't too many bands whose music is based around the vibraphone. Reinterpreted is not a collection of new tunes, but rather a collection of remixes. Before you step on the brakes, you should know that this is NOT what one normally finds in a remix CD. Instead of obnoxious faggy techno beats and trite ambient crap, these remixes are thoughtful and experimental. Many of them are transformed so far out of context that it is impossible to recognize the original tune. Remixers include We, Bundy K. Brown, and Him, among others... Quite the cool little trip. (Rating: 4)

ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN - Sick Songs (10" vinyl EP, Get Hip, Rock)
Pure in-your-face smash crash bang bam rock and roll played with adrenaline and style. If you're sick of all these trite poser bands trying to impress you with all their complicated shit rock, then Electric Frankenstein will be a refreshing change of pace. I've heard very few rock bands of late who play such direct, driving, intense music. There are lots of pluses here. The artwork is great...the 10" disc is on colored vinyl...and the band's songs absolutely KICK ASS. This band's drummer knows how to pack a mighty punch, and the rest of the guys simply play their balls off like there's no tomorrow. Eight tunes, including "Action High," "Back At You," "Clockwise," and "Out There." True rock music played the way it ought to be played. This is total and complete FUN. I bet they guys put on a killer show. (Rating:5)

EMIL MUZZ - Superprimered (CD, Kojisan, Pop/rock)
Good up-and-coming fuzz pop band. Gina Crosley's vocals range from soft and smooth to loud and frenzied...and the music spans the same area. The band's rhythm section is firm and tight, and those buzzsaw guitars sound GREAT. This band has a great deal of potential, as is suggested by tunes like "Grip 17" and "Lurge." Emil Muzz is a band that is surely on the right track. It'll be interesting to hear what they come up with next... (Rating: 3)

EMMET SWIMMING - Big Night Without You (CD, Epic, Pop)
Up until now, I was turned off by Emmet Swimming. For what reason, I cannot say. The earlier release I heard could have sucked...or I could have just been prannieless at the time. Perhaps today my prannie is in better working order, because Big Night Without You is a fine disc full of good pop hooks and solid songwriting. The band's sound is anchored around Todd Watts' exceptional vocals, while they exhibit a great deal more creativity than your average band with their arrangements. The cool urgency of tunes like "Fist Like A Glove" and "No Way To Say Goodbye" stand out in a world where too many bands are void of real emotion. This CD will appeal to a wide variety of folks, based simply upon intelligent songwriting and solid playing. This is, indeed quite...NEAT. (Rating: 4)

ENGINE - A Good End To Memory (CD, Pembletone Recordings, Rock/pop)
Engine is, first and foremost, a band for folks who like really good guitar. The band's moody, semi-trippy pop music is counterbalanced by some absolutely spectacular, dizzy guitar playing. Just when you think the music is going nowhere, all of a sudden the shifting guitars kick in and drive the tunes into a swirling blur of colored chaos. Many of the musical passages give me the same feeling I get when looking through kaleidoscopes. The band consists of Jennifer Ericson (guitar), Brian Lilje (bass), David Watkins (drums), and Peter Williams (guitar, percussion, vocals, keys). The engineering and production is top notch. Solid playing throughout, and the vocals fit the music to a T. If you can't find this in stores, write the band at 2330-2 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, GA 30033. Pretty goddamn neat. (Rating: 5)

ERRORTYPE: 11 - Errortype: 11 (CD, Some, Rock/pop)
You might think from the name that Errortype: 11 would be a techno or electronic band, but you would be wrong. Actually, you would be wrong anyway...simply for thinking in the first place. Now is the time to stop thinking and start rocking, and this band will gladly provide the soundtrack. Loud pounding and blaring guitars can't drown out this band's pure pop approach to their music. This ain't wimpy pop. This is macho, adrenaline-driven harsh pop. The band's overdriven approach to melodies and hooks works nicely...making this loud CD one catchy goddamn assault on the senses. Lotsa cool guitar lines weave in and out of these tunes, making the overall experience quite heady and neato. Intense. (Rating: 4)

DAVID FISCHOFF - Winston Park (CD, Secretly Canadian, Soft pop)
This CD does not sound like all the rest. Instead of striving for a big production or harsh noise, David Fischoff's music is purposely subtle, soft, and sparse. But instead of taking a shitty folky approach, Mr. Fischoff softy plays an electric guitar and almost whispers his trippy lyrics. The overall effect is something like a warped version of Donovan, except the songs are much more abstract and surreal. This guy is taking a very interesting approach and, although it may cost him a few million fans in the process, his music takes on a bizarre uniqueness that is quite uncommon in today's overflooded musical climate. For some reason it doesn't surprise me that David's day job is working as a librarian... (Rating: 4)

FLU THIRTEEN - In The Foul Key of V (CD, The Medicine Label, Rock)
Though their sound is not unlike many other alternative rock bands of this decade, the thing that sets Flu Thirteen apart is that they aren't afraid to let some distinct melodies slip into their brand of harsh rock. This band can really crank. When they're banging away at full volume, they are formidable. But just when you think the band is just another loud blur of screams and chaos, the vocalist jumps in with some nice clean melodies. It's kinda like a mixture of thrash and pop, with some obtuse instrumental sections thrown in for good measure. Tunes like "Unknown To None" and "Two Dollar Polka" will probably be very popular in college radioland. Lots to enjoy here. (Not Rated)

FUNNY NOT FUNNY (Idiot reaction)
This is funny. This is not funny. This is really, really funny...but this is not funny at all. It is downright mean. In fact, I find this to be extremely offensive. But this item here is very funny indeed. But these other things are not funny. Funny not funny. Funny not funny. In actuality, I don't know what the hell I think about anything. That's why I can't determine what is funny and what is not funny. I am a touchy asshole, and I'd rather waste my energy whining to you about my feelings than create something myself. (Rating: 1)

THE GANDHARVAS - Sold For A Smile (CD, MCA, Pop/rock)
With a sound that harkens back to the early eighties, Canada's The Gandharvas have an upbeat, commercial sound that's heating up the airwaves in their home country. The music is basic funky rock, with a kind of anthemic sound. Though this isn't the most original sounding band I've heard, their music is enjoyable and should appeal to a great many rock fans. (Rating: 3)

GARBAGE - Version 2.0 (CD, Almo Sounds, Pop)
Very slick and very, very commercial. If I hadn't read the press release I wouldn't even have known that this band is a big success (their debut disc sold over four million copies). I generally survive by not keeping up with what's happening in the rest of the world. So what does Garbage sound like? This is basic techno/pop with female vocals. Very radio friendly, very busy arrangements, heavy on the effects. While the overall sound is at times pleasant, there's a certain generic sound here that just doesn't satisfy. Still there are a few songs that do the trick. Not bad, but not great. (Rating: 3)

DAVID GARZA - This Euphoria (CD, Lava/Atlantic, Pop)
This one didn't grab me on the first listen, but after a coupla spins this disc began to grow on me. David Garza's pop music is somewhat reminiscent of David Bowie, but he neither mimics Mr. Bobo nor gets into the fashion or theatrics. Instead, this guy just seems content to write some damn fine pop music...and he's got the vocals to really make his music work. Using just the right amount of studio polish, Mr. Garza creates feelgood pop that is easy to listen to yet subtle in some of the thought provoking lyrics. This CD may slide through the cracks because of the incredible glut of pop music out there...but there are some truly excellent cuts on this one. Quite cool. (Rating: 4)

HAYDEN - The Closer I Get (CD, Outpost, Pop)
I can't understand why more folks haven't embraced Hayden's music. I've gone apeshit over everything the man has put out. But then we must remember that I have better taste than everyone else (or so I'd like to think). The Closer I Get is somewhat of a departure for Hayden. His previous releases were sparse, home recorded projects. Though this disc was recorded mostly in big recording studios, Hayden's personal statements still come through crystal clear. The re-recording of "Stride" is damn near astounding. This guy has a voice like no one else...and hearing his tunes with big arrangements is a pure thrill. I can think of few artists in the nineties who come across as sincere and genuine as this guy. Hayden is an artist who doesn't need a professional studio to get his point across, but shows that he can effectively work within the confines of a professional environment and still retain his credibility. This is a killer collection of tunes from one of the most important songwriters of this decade. Wow. (Rating: 6)

JETENDERPAUL - Don't Look Down (CD, Meltdown, Pop)
I was particularly glad to get my hands on this disc, because this band's last CD had me quite perplexed. This one has the same basic effect. Jetenderpaul is a blurry, semi-psychedelic home recording experiment...or at least that's what they sound like. The band's music has an odd spontaneous feel to it. It's almost like listening to a band that has just learned how to play their instruments. There's no verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus pattern to these tunes. Instead these folks present hazy images that constantly change and evolve. The song titles say it all: "Her Baroque Syntax," "Chugga-Chugga, Mr. Chomsky," "On the Frivolous Use of Seventeenth Century Bookends." While this disc is not for everyone, the curious and adventurous will find some choice morsels here... (Rating: 4)

ANDERS JOHANSSON - Red Shift (CD, Heptagon, Jazz)
Weird. I'm categorizing this as jazz, but some of the cuts on this disc are so far out that this really might more appropriately be labeled experimental. Drummer/producer Anders Johansson goes off the deep end on this strangely bizarre CD. The tunes are all tied together by Mr. Johansson's mind blowing percussion. Otherwise, it's a game where anything can and does enter the mix. Originally a heavy metal drummer, Anders chose to make a big switch in his niche. Good switch. This was a big bite for anyone to chew off. I don't even know quite how to describe this music, except to say it's like hearing a guy playing drums while you're dreaming and hearing all kinds of sounds bleeding in and out of your subsconcious. Our favorites cuts are "Imaginative Ocean," "Polynesian Chant/Balinese Funeral March," and the eerily disturbing "Southeast - Northwest." Very unusual. (Rating: 5)

JENS JOHANSSON - Fission (CD, Heptagon, Jass)
Interesting jazzy fusion of seventies progressive rock and nineties technology. This is the first release I've heard on the Swedish Heptagon label (they also have a U.S. office), and it's a mind blower. Jens Johansson is a jazz guitarist of the most inventive nature. His fingers go absolutely WILD throughout the course of the nine songs on Fission. It's easy for me (and you too) to hate guitar noodling, but when it's done the way this man does sounds great. The top-notch production job on this disc makes it absolutely THROB your speakers into a frenzy. Our favorite is the intensely trippy "Crowd Tectonics" which sounds something like the more adventurous side of Captain Beefheart's instrumentals or even Frank Zappa. Wildly entertaining. (Rating: 5)

PAUL KELLY - Words and Music (CD, Vanguard, Pop)
This Australian fellow writes some damn good songs, and he's got a nice vocal style. Formerly of the bands The Dots and The Messengers (bands that I never heard before to my knowledge), Mr. Kelly headed off on his own in 1991. Looking over this man's discography, I felt embarrassed that I wasn't familiar with the name Paul Kelly. (The man has released a shitload of music over the past two decades, and I'm just now discovering him. Sheesh!) By the time most folks have ten years of playing music under their belts, their music is nothing more than lukewarm mush. Mr. Kelly's music retains a unique fresh quality that should appeal to a wide variety of music fans. This disc contains 15 tunes including "Little Kings," "Words and Music," and "Glory Be To God." Varied and accessible. (Rating: 4)

KOMEDA (Live performance, June 9, 1998)
Sweden's Komeda is the cream of the crop in the world of pop, and a top favorite here in babysueland. There are way too many bands in the world but very few who actually stand out as true originals. Komeda is, quite simply, one of the most original sounding bands on the planet. Sounding something like a cross between Slapp Happy and Devo (and that doesn't even quite describe the sound), this band has a small yet growing legion of fans eagerly lapping up everything they release. The band's killer melodies are anchored in a bizarre style of jagged pop, and it's all held together by one of the best female vocalists of the century. Dreamy, bizarre, articulate...these folks are extremely intelligent and inventive...which may explain why they haven't yet reached a larger audience. The band celebrated the release of their latest CD at this particular performance and blew the audience away. Komeda did, in fact, draw a larger crowd than headliners Ivy (another top favorite of ours). Komeda were in top form, playing selections from their new CD as well as some old favorites. Not only does this band play like there's no tomorrow, but they come across as completely sincere and genuine individuals. Komeda is a band that most likely will only be appreciated by a very select audience simply because their music is so smart and obtuse. Get in on the ground floor and latch onto one of the best combos of the nineties. Komeda is...HOT. (Rating: 6)

LOVE NUT - Baltimucho! (CD, Big Deal, Pop)
More totally pure pop from Baltimore's Love Nut. The band's first CD (Bastards of Melody) caught a lot of people's attention...despite the fact that you can now find it all over the place in the cheapie bins (pick it's GOOD!). The band's second disc is produced by Ed Stasium, who is known for his production work with bands like The Ramones and The Smithereens. The bigger, slicker production works on some tunes ("Foolish Game" in particular). On others, however, the slicker production tends to make the band sound generic...which is unfortunate, because they really aren't a generic pop band at all. Not surprisingly, the good outweighs the band...and Love Nut have another winner on their hands. With the recent (and well earned) success of Semisonic, this band stands a good chance of commercial success... (Not Rated)

THE LUNKHEADS - Swingin' Sinners (CD, 360 Twist!, Rock)
Extremely raw garage rock. British band The Lunkheads sound like they're about to self-implode throughout almost every song on this disc. This isn't phoney stuff. These guys display a sloppy realism that is refreshing and pure, particularly in an age where there are so many garage rock wannabees. Crash, bang, bam...distortion galore on the vocals and guitars...while a big fat rhythm section just churns away. These rocking maniacs offer no les than 19 (!) tunes, including "Don't Look So Poorly, Julie," "Stupidity With Class," and "Cheer Up Loopy Sue." I wish this had included lyrics...damn! (Rating: 4)

THE MAYFIELD FOUR - Fallout (CD, Epic, Rock)
Commercial FM radio screamer rock. This Spokane, Washington quartet has a nice, direct, and yet controlled approach to their music. The drums are thick, the bass lines solid, and the guitar lines weave in and out of the tunes well. The songs that work best are the ones in which the vocalist doesn't get too carried away ("Suckerpunch" and "Forfeit" are good examples). This band's commercial sound will most likely turn off alternative assholes while pleasing more conventional listeners... (Rating: 3)

THE MILL VALLEY TATERS - Foam Aroma (Independently released cassette, Bone HQ)
This cool Connecticut band puts out more releases than you could ever imagine. The band's instrumental surf music is always well connected and tight. A lot of bands could learn from the amount of success that the Mill Valley Taters have had, based simply on releasing their own cassettes. I'd still like to see/hear this band release a CD, because I think they're ready to go to the next level. You won't find this in stores, so your best bet is to check out the band's web site at (Rating: 4)

MISS BLISS - Warm Sounds From A Cold Town (CD, Meltdown, Rock)
Breezy, cool pop with psychedelic edges. This is the second full length disc from Miss Bliss, and it's a keeper. There's an odd familiarity about Miss Bliss, yet I can't quite come up with who they sound like. Perhaps this is because I am an idiot...or perhaps it is because of the medication. The band states that their influences are The Beatles, The Cure, and The Smiths...but I don't think they really sound too much like any of those bands. These basic pop tunes are driven to a different level by spacey guitars and introspective lyrics. Wait...I think I've got it. This is what The Shoes might sound like if they overdosed on LSD. Nicely trippy poppy. (Not Rated)

MY TROUSERS (Type of clothing)
My trousers are a very important part of my everyday life, for without them I most certainly would be arrested and put in jail. I have many different kinds of trousers, but I couldn't tell you who manufactures any of them. This is mainly because I buy all my lower body coverings from yard sales and junk stores. But even though I know not from where they come, they still fulfill their essential mission. Lovely, pretty trousers! Soft, snuggly trousers! Snappy, lovable trousers! They are so very important indeed...that I can't seem to get my trousers off quickly enough as soon as I arrive home... (Rating: 1)

NEW RADIANT STORM KING - My Little Bastard Soul/The Castle (Double CD, Wormco, Rock/pop)
When I read press releases accompanying reissues of supposedly legendary music, the actual CD usually stinks and is ultimately a letdown. Not so this time. My Little Bastard Soul, the debut album by New Radiant Storm King, is a mindblower. The tunes are puzzling, powerful, and catchy...the playing intense...and the songwriting styles go all over the place. Call it esoteric pop, if you feel so inclined. The album was recorded in 1992, but sounds as fresh as a daisy. The Castle, the accompanying disc, contains music from a play as well as outtakes from the debut album and early demos. This disc is a big mouthful from a band I had never heard before. After hearing this, I'll never forget the name. Extra good stuff, and in this case certainly worthy of reissue... (Rating: 5)

NOBODYS - Greatasstits (CD, Hopeless, Punk/pop)
Talk about a collection of tunes. Greatasstits (GREAT CD title) consists of a whole slew of previously released tracks by Nobodys. The band plays blindingly fast pop/punk tunes that are short, direct, and loud. This disc collects no less than 52 (!?!) tunes by the band. They fly by so fast and furious that you won't know what hit you. Lots of positive songs like "Hate To Drive," "My Girl Sucks," "Stupid Humans," and "Young, Blonde and Dumb." Funny and fun. Plus the cover features some greatasstits, o'course... (Rating: 4)

ORIFICE - Gollywoggle (CD, Opaline, Pop)
Very, very, very reminiscent of Snooty and the Creamcheese. This slightly spooky pop outfit has a sound that harkens back to the early eighties. The tunes are basic, and the band has the good sense not to overarrange their material to death. Lead singer Kelly Kreep's vocals sound very much like Snooty Snoo. Slightly experimental, yet continually melodic... (Not Rated)

THE RETARDED BASTARDS - We Got Moonpies Stuck In Our Butts (CD, Snack Pax, Pranny poo)
Oh, those Retarded Bastards! They so silly, they so upset to mouth off about...moonpie? Though sing long and hard with brutal intention, never really explain how moonpies get stuck in butts. Perhaps that not important...may never know! Band consist of Bear Richard what get cranky and push thing around inside. Guitar is playing by Angel Dump, musician what does lot of crystal thing. Rhythm section is Banjo Snuff and Pockie Borch, who are to laying down foundation of pranny poo. Despite trying very hard, special bastards not up to par on this disc. But not matter. There plenty other terrible, unlistenable CDs in pile this month. Is snowing! Is snowing very unusual PARTICLES in luxury office! Now is lovely day for all today... (Rating: 1)

SNUFF - Tweet Tweet My Lovely (CD, Fat Wreck Chords, Pop/rock)
Britain's Snuff remind me very much of hard pop bands from California, except for two main differences. Number one, their songs don't all sound alike. Number two, despite the fact that they utilize horns they are definitely NOT a ska band. In fact, rather than labeling them "hard pop" simply calling this a rock band would be more appropriate...since they really do simply get down, play some driving music, and have a good time. Many of these tunes have an almost anthemic quality to them. This band's tunes are memorable and they stick in your mind like exceptional glue. Fourteen goddamn kickass tunes here, including "Timebomb," "Iyehf Taidu Leikh," "Arsehole," and "Take Me Home (Piss Off)." (Rating: 5)

STINKY DARLING - Paw Paws For Abraham Lincoln (CD, Brankie, Prannie pop)
Just when I thought I had heard it all really hard kind of but not really okay. A homeless mime going by the name Stinky Darling offers a disappointing tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Homeless junkasses are as stupid as the price is right in the first place, but in the second place this little stinky job has bummed its way out of the architectural womb. Songs like "Abraham's Pussy," "As Honest As My Pot," and "Lincoln's Pink Belly" are retarded snacker jacks. It doesn't get much worse than this, except when it gets worse than this. Flegh. (Rating: 1)

SUBSONICS - Follow Me Down (CD, Get Hip Recordings, Pop/rock)
Their Velvet Underground influences strongly intact, Atlanta's Subsonics sound totally bitchin' on Follow Me Down. The band's tight, short tunes are almost bubblegum in nature, but those frantic rhythms and particularly the skewed guitar sounds add a bizarre flavor to the situation. The band has found an appropriate home (finally) on the ultra cool Get Hip they may finally reach a larger audience (the band already has an extremely devoted cult following). This is the best Subsonics release to date. Clay Reed (vocals, electric guitar), Buffi Aguero (drums), and Christy Montero (bass) may reach more people as they continue rocking along...but in the big scheme of things they're already true stars. This is great music with real originality and flair. (Rating: 5)

SUICIDE - Ghost Riders (CD, ROIR, Experimental/electronic)
Although nowadays everyone is producing abstract electronic music with experimental vocals, when Suicide were doing it way back when it was very unique and controversial. Ghost Riders, originally issued as a cassette only release, documents the band's live performance at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1981. It must have been an odd event, judging from this recording. Hearing this makes me very proud indeed that I still have my copy of the first vinyl album the band released in 1977. Though this is probably only of interest to Suicide fans, it serves as an interesting look back at the beginning of the electronic revolution in music. Another lesson in Difficult Listening 101. (Rating: 4)

SULFUR - Delirium Tremens (CD, Goldenfly, Progressive pop)
Progressive head music. Sulfur is led by Michele Amar, but also includes former members of Swans, Foetus, Soul Coughing, Firewater, and Motherhead Bug. These tunes rely heavily on complex arrangements that can be overly busy at times. Ms. Amar's vocals sound like a combination of Diamanda Galas and Kate Bush. Overall, this is very reminiscent of early eighties progressive rock music. (Not Rated)

THE SUMMER SUNS - The Summer Suns (10" vinyl EP, Get Hip Recordings, Pop)
The appropriately named The Summer Suns present some delightfully pleasant pop on this subtle, enjoyable EP. The band's sparsely arranged pop tunes feature breathy vocals and jangley guitars (don't let THAT scare you away)...but above all it's the strong songs that make this disc such an entertaining listen. Reminiscent of eighties pop bands, these fellows' music is simple and driven by melody lines. Though the band is Australian, you'd never know it from their sound. The overall style is more British or American. Sorta Kinks-like, in a way. Eight cool tunes. Look out for more good stuff from these guys in the future... (Rating: 5)

TRAINING FOR UTOPIA - Plastic Soul Empalement (CD, Tooth & Nail, Noise/techno)
If there's one record label no one seems to be able to figure out, it is Tooth & Nail. Despite the fact that the label is based on Christianity, they put out some rather controversial stuff. But up until now they've never put out anything quite as abrasive as Training For Utopia. This noise/industrial/techno band spews forth what sure sounds like alienated hatred. I may be wrong because I can't understand the words...but this stuff sounds violent and harsh on the surface. The blurring of styles and mental viewpoints is what I'm beginning to like about certain artists and organizations as we near the end of the century. Maybe there's hope for the world yet. Well, I won't go that far. This band is tying in all sorts of ideas and styles on far out tunes like "A Good Feeling" and "A Gift To A Dying Friend." You'll have to make up your own mind on this one. This band is playing to an extremely select audience, FOR SURE... (Rating: 4)

TRANQUILITY BASS - Beep!!! (CD, Astralwerks, Trip hop/jass/various)
One of my favorite offbeat releases from 1997 was Let The Freak Flag Fly by a fellow who calls his outfit Tranquility Bass. This isn't exactly a new release (damn!), but it's an interesting collection of remixes that have been done of singles from the previous CD. The remixers? Fatboy Slim, Ultramarine, Tom Chasteen, and even Mike Kandel (Mr. Tranquility Bass hisself). Interesting takes on tunes that, although better the first time around, still have an awkward uniqueness about them... (Rating: 4)

VAST - Visual Audio Sensory Theater (CD, Elektra Entertainment, Epic pop)
Epic pop music heavy on the technical side of things. This kind of thing either works or fails miserably. Fortunately, Jon Crosby's project is a success. I was almost certain from the gritty, semi-industrial flavor of these tunes that this was a Trent Reznor production...but I was wrong. Fred Maher produced this one. VAST tunes incorporate soft, ambient moments with some tough rock arrangements. Thoughtful, intelligent lyrics complete the picture. Overall, this is a very solid release...and I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Crosby is only 21 years old (!?!). Our top picks are "Here," "I'm Dying," "Three Doors," and "You." Very mature...and very progressive. (Rating: 5)

THE VINDICTIVES - Leave Home (CD, Liberation, Punk)
Most nineties bands write and play material that sounds just like The Ramones. The Vindictives take the approach a step covering not just one song, but an entire album by The Ramones. Leave Home was always one of my top favorite Ramones albums, so it's interesting hearing these harsher, more produced versions of some of my favorite tunes. Although I have to admit I prefer the original album, this little monster kicks some mean ass at times. The Vindictives manage to conjure up the original intent of these tunes more often than you might think. Covering an entire album is a concept that I bet more and more folks will take in the future. (Not Rated)

DON WALSER - Down At The Sky-Vue Drive-In (CD, Sire, Country)
This unlikely country star-to-be may surprise you. I sure wasn't ready for Don Walser's solid, pure country music. The guy's publicity photos make him out to be a weirdo politician or something. Just goes to show that you can't always judge a cook by his brother. I find it interesting that the folks at Sire have opted to expand their boundaries by offering country artists. Blurring of styles is definitely the wave of the future. Let me process. So I was on Channel 11 last night... That is the channel where there is nothing. Nothing but words. The words of a heavyset man unafraid to let loose and have a good time. Feelgood country. Good stuff. (Not Rated)

THE WHY STORE - Two Beasts (CD, Way Cool Music/MCA, Pop)
Sounding something like a countryfied pop version of Jethro Tull mixed with Cat Stevens, The Why Store have a very slick accessible sound that is apparently going over well on FM radio. It's no wonder. The band's catchy, simple tunes are easy to listen to. The listener isn't challenged, and the band isn't trying to break any new ground. With most bands, this might be a disadvantage...but for some reason I like the commercial sound in this case. This release is even more commercial sounding than the band's self-titled major label debut. My only complaint, and it is slight, is that this band could stand to rock out a bit more (as they do on the closing number "When You're High"). The Why Store won't make you think, but then probably never needed to think in the first place... (Rating: 4)

WIZO - Kraut & Ruben (CD EP, Fat Wreck Chords, Power pop/punk)
This EP finds this German band sounding very much like current American power pop/punk bands. The band plays fast and loud, yet retain a sense of humor about what they're doing. Our favorite is "Weiter," which is sung in the band's native language. Frenzied and upbeat. (Rating: 4)


A Day For Honey - A Day For Honey (CD, Building/TVT, Rock/pop)
Tori Amos - From the Choirgirl Hotel (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
- Radiance (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Backstreet Law
- Hockey Helmet (CD, Riviere, Rock)
- No Longer At Ease (CD, Some, Rock)
Bionic Man/Jarhead (Split 7" vinyl single, Submit)
Chris Black & The Dirty Folk Revolution - A Mind Is A Terrible Thing (CD, DYS, Folk)
Canister - Blame (CD, Sanction music)
Christian Death - The Decomposition of Violets: An Evening With... (CD, ROIR)
Circle of Dust - Disengage (CD, Flying Tart)
- "Das Knaben Wunderhorn," "The Buildup" b/w "Sabotage," "F.N." (7" vinyl single, Turnbuckle)
Danielson - Tri-Danielson! (CD, Tooth & Nail)
Dingees - Armageddon Massive (CD, BEC, Rock/ska)
Drain S.T.H. - Horror Wrestling (Advance cassette, Mercury)
EQ (Magazine, May 1998)
An Excelsior Recordings Compilation (CD, spinART, Various artists compilation)
Exotic Magazine (April 1998)
Exotic Magazine (March 1998)
Facilities (Magazine, April 1998)
Foam - Big Windshield, Little Mirror (CD, Epic, Pop)
Foghat - Road Cases (CD, Plum, Rock)
Al Frazza - Once (CD EP, Big Sleep)
The Freshmakers - Like Hell (Cassette, Stupid Gaijin)
Gig Magazine (June 1998)
The Grand Island - Naughty French Spot (CD, Super 8)
Gravity Kills - Perversion (CD, TVT, Techno/pop)
- "On Top of This Hill" b/w "Abe's Around Back" (7" vinyl single, Landfall Recordings)
(hed)p.e. - Serpent Boy EP (CD EP, Silvertone)
Hello I'm A Truck - Hello I'm A Truck (CD, Frame, Pop)
Highway 13 - Devil's Business (CD, Get Hip Recordings, Rockabilly)
Holy Titclamps
(Magazine, #16)
Hopelessly Devoted To You - Volume II (CD, Hopeless, Various artists compilation)
Industrial Strength Anthology 1 - The Lost Tracks (CD, TMC, Various artists compilation)
Industrial F**king Strength 2 - Unleash the Brutality (CD, TMC, Various artists compilation)
Ineffect - Dr. Leary's Last Experiment (CD EP, Fattass)
The Insect - The Detroit Sessions (CD, 360 Twist!, Rock)
Jason and the Scorcers - Midnight Roads & Stages Seen (Double CD, Mammoth, Pop/rock)
Paul K - A Wilderness of Mirrors (CD, Alias, Pop)
Keyboard (Magazine, July 1998)
Kilgore - A Search For Reason (CD, Revolution, Rock)
Kk in the Mix - Kk in the Mix (CD, Chipie)
Lilith Fair - A Celebration of Women in Music (Double CD, Nettwerk, Various artists compilation)
Lockgroove - Rewired (CD, Krave, Rock)
Steve MacDonald - Ramblin Worker (7" vinyl EP, Landfall Recordings)
Magnet - Which Way (CD EP, PC Music, Pop)
Method 51 - Method 51 (CD, PC Music, Hard rock)
Motor Betty - Super Sounds From the Stereophonic Speedway (CD, Skeet, Rock)
Mya - Mya (CD, University/Interscope, Synthetic soul pop)
Nevativland - Happy Heroes (CD, Seeland)
New Salem Witch Hunters - Colonial Root Cellar (CD, Get Hip Recordings, Rock)
Paul Ruderman Band - The October Recordings (Independently released CD)
Pete Best - Pete Best (CD, Best Peter Music)
The Phoids - The Phoids (CD, Ng, Pop)
Popsmear Magazine (#15, May/June 1998)
Pro Sound News (Magazine, May 1998)
P.T.B.H.! (Zine, #4)
Queer Zine Explostion (Magazine, #15)
Quick Dummies (Zine, #10)
Relapse (Zine, #1)
Replication News (Magazine, April 1998)
Ripping Off Society/Dick Sucking Lips - 12 Song Split (Vinyl LP, Mensual)
Rocket 455 - Sees All Knows All Tells All (CD, Get Hip, Rock)
Ronna - Day 14 (CD, River North, Pop)
Roadrunner Rules - Ozzfest Vol. 2 (CD, Roadrunner, Various artists compilation)
Sabot - [Sabo] (CD, Null Pointer Publishing)
Savatage - The Wake of Magellan (CD, Lava/Atlantic, Heavy metal)
shoutbus! - Ain't That America? (CD, Art Monk Construction)
Joey Skidmore - Bent (CD, Mop-Top, Rock)
Slimp Records - No. 001 (CD, Slimp, Various artists compilation)
Sonic Joyride - Bazaar (CD, Anomoly)
Souvenir - In Which You Weighed (Independently released CD, Pop)
Spindle Shanks - Spindle Shanks (Independently Released CD)
Stillsuit - At the Speed of Light (CD, Building/TVT)
Super 400 - Super 400 (Advance cassette, Island)
Tack - Dead Man In The Car (CD, Tarpit, Rock/pop)
Teriyakis - Psychics to Sidekicks (CD, Piapus, Rock/pop)
Thee Headcoats - The Jimmy Reed Experience (10" vinyl EP, Get Hip)
Throneberry - Squinting Before the Dazzle (CD, Alias, Pop)
Tilt - Collect 'Em All (CD, Fat Wreck Chords, Pop)
Tilt Wheel - "The Wake (Intermission)" b/w "Rinse" (7" vinyl single, Firmament)
The Titans - Wild Guy (10" vinyl EP, Get Hip, Rock)
The Tories - Wonderful Life (CD, Encoded Music, Pop)
Ultrababyfat - Silver Tones Smile (Advance cassette, Velvel)
Unprovoked Moose Attack - Under The Hoof (CD, Cider Alley)
The Vendettas - The Vendettas (CD, 360 Twist!, Rock)
Volcanic - Volcanic (CD, Rut, Rock)
W.K.R. - We'll Kill Rush (CD, Mensual)

©1998 LMNOP

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