November 1997 Reviews

RATING SYSTEM | Acetone | Acumen Nation | Alpha | Be/Non | Bentley Rhythm Ace | BMX Bandits | Chumbawamba | Cockeyed Ghost | Closer | Cold | Samantha Cole | Deformo | Dogs | The Duran Duran Tribute Album | The Easily Offended | Fatboy Slim | Bela Fleck & the Flecktones | Flowchart | Frigg-A-Go-Go | H2O | Harmonia 76 | Harmony Rockets | Heckle | Holiday | Idiot Flesh | Iron Monkey | Ivy | Jetenderpaul | Elton John | Jonathan Fire Eater | Kara's Flowers | Little Bobby Taylors | Jas. Mathus | The Meatles | Misery Loves Co. | The Muffs | The Multiple Cat | The Normal | Ousia | Plug | Princess Superstar | Q3Lxx*&BBB | Superhorse | Today Is The Day

*Additional Items Received*


ACETONE - Acetone (CD, Vapor, Soft pop)
Is this the same Acetone I remember from a previous release? Or have I listened to so many bands now that I can't remember a DAMN thing about any of them anymore? Whatever the case...I recollect this band playing in a much harsher, noiser style on an earlier release. I remember liking it but...WOW. I sure like this new one BETTER. This is the band's third album, and it's a keeper. Moody, subtle pop with superb arrangements and very smooooooooth vocals. This L.A.-based trio consists of Steve Hadley (drums), Richie Lee (vocals/bass), and Mark Lightcap (guitar/vocals). This isn't slow core, but it's damn close. This is the best release I've heard from Acetone to date. The band will open for Spiritualized (a FAVE around these parts) on their U.S. tour. Extremely likable moody pop music with some SNAZZY guitar riffs. Coooooooool. (Rating: 5)

ACUMEN NATION - More Human Heart (CD, Conscience, Industrial)
Previously known as simply Acumen, this band had to change their name due to another one of those goddamn name disputes. They previously released two full-lengths on Fifth Colvmn before switching to Conscience. More Human Heart finds Chicago-based Acumen Nation in fine form. The harsh noise is still there, but this time the band takes even more chances and goes even crazier with studio effects...creating a great big wall of noise. But there's order to the chaos, which is what makes this band such a good listen. These folks incorporate a wide range of influences into their own unique vision of industrial music. (Not Rated)

ALPHA - Come From Heaven (CD, Melankolic/Virgin/Caroline, Soft moody pop)
Alpha is the duo of Corin Dingley and Andy Jenks, two British songwriter/producers who have a different way recording songs. For this, their debut CD, these fellows recorded the basic backing tracks and then handed them over to vocalists who constructed songs around the basic tracks. They then took all the pieces and mixed them down intoCome From Heaven. What does it sound like? Sorta louge-ish, sorta like mood music, sorta like stuff you might hear in a piano bar. These tunes are very smooth, soothing, and just slightly trippy. My favorite tune so far is "Slim." Folks who stopped by when this was playing seemed to get a charge out of it. I've played this disc several times, and each time it gets better. Excellent stuff, just a tad out of the ordinary... (Rating: 5)

BE/NON - You're Playing With Children in the Land of the Bugs (CD, Turnbuckle, Rock)
Offbeat, skewed rock band with a definite disregard for accessibility. Vocals screech, instruments blur together in an unintelligible roar...funky rhythms perform spastic stops and starts...even occasional segments of music with definite melodies and choruses. This release is outside the bounds of any style of music except purely experimental. From the song titles, I'd say these fellows have a damn good sense of humor ("Kitchen Worker," "Danny's Alive," "Microsurgical Vasectormy Reversal," "Plain"). This music is not easily understood...even by US. If difficult listening is your bag, Be/Non may just be the band for you. (Not Rated)

BENTLEY RHYTHM ACE - Bentley Rhythm Ace (CD, Astralwerks, Techno/jazz)
Nice danceable jazzy electronic music from the duo of Mike Stokes and Richard March. Mike was previously a lighting guy, and Richard used to be the bass player in Pop Will Eat Itself (an enjoyable yet overlooked techno/industrial pop band). Instead of going for kooky electronic bleeps and blips, these fellows lay down nice funky rhythms and layer trippy, odd sounds and instruments over the top. The overall effect sound is like listening to jazz mixed with techno. The American CD contains two extra tracks ("On Her Majesty's Whistle" and "Spy Who Loved Moose"). (Not Rated)

BMX BANDITS - Theme Park (CD, Big Deal, Pop)
For those who aren't already aware of it, Big Deal Records is one of the best, most reliable sources around for underground pop bands. If it weren't for Big Deal, this CD probably wouldn't have been released in the United States. BMX Bandits are a shimmering, bubblegum band led by a fellow named Duglus Stewart, who is legendary in his home country of Scotland. Ex-band BMX Bandits members have gone on to form Teenage Fanclub, Eugenius, and Soup Dragons. Theme Park contains no less than eighteen (!) pop numbers, featuring singalong choruses and a spectacular production job courtesy of Kim Fowley... (Not Rated)

CHUMBAWAMBA - Tubthumper (CD, Republic/Universal, Crappy pop)
Jesus...there are actually people out there buying this rotten crap!?! Horrible British radio music. Stupid disco beats...too many vocals...big production to hide the fact that there is no substance whatsoever...and stupid, STUPID lyrics. Avoid this. Big money involved here. Total and complete CRAP. (Rating: 1)

COCKEYED GHOST - Neverest (CD, Big Deal, Pop)
Passionate, ultra-catchy, extremely intelligent power pop played with balls and conviction. Cockeyed Ghost have a lot of heads turning, and for good reason. This odd little pop band combines elements from bands like early 10CC, Nazz, the Beach Boys, and Sparks and then injects nineties punk energy into the mixture to create a whirlwind of infectious pop energy. And instead of running their formula into the ground (as most power pop bands do), Cockeyed Ghost include surprises (particularly "Walking in Winter" and "Koreatown"). The harmony falsettos of Rob Cassell and Adam Marsland are seamless, and James Hazely's drumming is PERFECT. The most important thing to remember about Cockeyed Ghost is that they are a band with truly GREAT songs...songs that people will still be listening to years from now. "End Groove," the final track, is absolutely BRILLIANT. I hope to catch this band play live. Easily one of the very BEST pop CDs of 1997. Produced by Earle Mankey, an incredible songwriter in his own right. ***TOP PICK FOR NOVEMBER*** (Rating: 6)

CLOSER - Don't Walk (CD, Revolution, Pop)
Extremely British sounding band featuring four very attractive boys from White Plains, New York. Harley DiNardo sure can hit some high notes with his voice on these ultra-commercial tunes. There's a part of me that didn't want to like this because the band's image seems calculated. But after a couple of listens, my cold, cold heart warmed up to Closer I found myself enjoying this band. If some of these songs don't set college radio on fire, then something must be wrong in radioland. This disc is chock full of tunes that oughta have college kids setting their books on fire and killing their parents (something they should've done already anyway). This is likely to appeal to Oasis fans. Eleven glossy, catchy tracks including "Stereo," "Let Her Go," "Time Today" (this one's GREAT), "From a Different View," and "That Way." (Not Rated)

COLD - Cold (CD, A&M, Hard rock)
Hard rock with really cool scarey production. Lead singer/guitarist Scooter Ward comes up with some good hard rockers with an odd bend, yet he's not afraid to experiment ("Ugly"). This Jacksonville, Florida band recorded their demos in Fred Durst's (of Limp Biskit) studio, and also tour with the band. In the end, it's those psycho studio tricks that make this CD an interesting listen. In addition, good alienated song topics add to the intrigue ("Go Away," "Give," "Goodbye Cruel World," "Serial Killer"). This is a very dense, big sounding production...but in this case the production fits the music. Cold could soon be...HOT. (Rating: 3)

SAMANTHA COLE - Samantha Cole (CD, Universal, Synthetic white chick soul pop)
Be forewarned that this CD is NOT for everyone. In fact, it is aimed at (and strictly made for) folks who like artificial, synthetic FM radio dribble. This is the kind of stuff that yuppies listen to while riding around in their expensive sports cars talking on cellular phones. This is also the kind of stuff that "white negroes" eat off the floor like honeydew melon. If all this is true, you may well ask...WHY review it? Well, to be honest...I hate to admit that I kinda like Samatha Cole. Sure, the whole package reeks of money and phoney emotion...but for some goddamn reason I still enjoy listening to it. This is Samantha's debut CD, and it features twelve tracks including "Down In Love," "Crazy," and "Shadow Of Love." (Not Rated)

DEFORMO - Deformo (CD, Gourmandizer, Pop/rock)
Interesting band, interesting CD. Deformo remind me of early David Bowie mixed with the Frogs. The press release that accompanied the CD dubbed the music "theatrical pop," which is actually an accurate description. Featuring ex-members of The Kelly Deal 6000 (who this band sounds NOTHING like), this band has a sound that doesn't really sound like any other currently on the horizon. This could be due to lead singer Steve Salad's yelping, obtuse vocal style...or the band's unusual and highly original arrangements...or just the fact that the songs DO NOT sound like other folks. The song titles give a good idea of where these folks are coming from: "Movie Lights," "Hey Kids," "Burn, Ronnie, Burn," "Bipolar Scholar Follower," "The Meat Will Not Forever Stay Pink." The band has also just released an EP titled The Queen Bazaar, which features five songs not found on this album. Intelligent and peculiar stuff. (Rating: 5)

DOGS (Animals)
A review of...DOGS? Well...why NOT? We can review ANYTHING WE WANT TO...and YOU can't stop us. Now, on with the review... What are dogs? Dogs are stupid, obnoxious animals that stink and act retarded. The only reason they stay with their owners is because that's where their food comes from. Who owns dogs? Lonely losers who don't have any real friends. What should we do now? We should...hit dogs...hurt dogs...kick dogs...and kill dogs. Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN! These ugly little rats are God's biggest mistake. Why, even JESUS hates them. Man's best friend? HA! (Rating: 1)

I'll have to state right off the bat that I never particularly cared for Duran Duran, and that's not likely to change now. That said, this is an interesting restrospective of the band's career performed by a variety of ska, punk, and pop artists. From the slam bam spa/punk opener ("Rio" by Goldfinger) to the end ("Girls On Film" by Wesley Willis Fiasco), these song treatments are hit and miss (which is usually the case with tribute CDs). Standout tracks in addition to the opening track are: "The Chauffer" (Deftones), "Girls On Film" (Bjorn Again), "The Seventh Stranger" (The Wrens), and "Is There Something I Should Know" (Mr. T Experience). (Not Rated)

Because we get a great deal of complaint letters and e-mails from folks who are offended by our work, we are pleased to prepare this capsule review. Hey there, hello! Hey all you folks out there who get SO UPSET and BOTHERED by things you see and read! We love you! And do you know WHY we love you? Why, just to confuse you of course...and because you always help to promote our magazine and web site by telling SO MANY PEOPLE about it. You probably think your bothered and upset communications hurt our feelings, but do you know what? We LOVE reading your complaints. Why? Because they're always so goddamn STUPID and SILLY. Not only that, our friends always get a good laugh out of reading your carefully constructed messages. But even though your pitiful little words of wisdom always manage to churn a good chuckle in these here parts, we're afraid your rating just ISN'T SO GOOD. Nyah nyah nyah NYAH nyah! You LOSE!!! (Rating: 1)

FATBOY SLIM - Better Living Through Chemistry (CD, Astralwerks, Dance/electronic)
The key word here is repetition. Lots of repitition. Repeating samples, repeating rhythms, repeating lyrics... Ex-Housemartin member Norman Cook has been heating up the dancefloors for several years now under several different names (Freakpower, Pizzaman, Fried Funk Food, and others). Now he's calling himself Fatboy Slim, and his new album is likely to be very popular on the club circuit. It's a highly technical, extremely rhythm heavy collection of dance tunes that is easy on the ears. Mr. Cook is pals with the commercially successful Chemical Brothers, who helped convince him to record this disc. (Not Rated)

BELA FLECK & THE FLECKTONES - Live Art (Double CD, Warner Bros., Instrumental/progressive)
Every once in a while a credible artist or group manages to slide through the cracks amidst all the garbage and achieve commercial success. Bela Fleck & the Flecktones is one such group. A really cool fellow who tours with this band gave me a copy of their CD and recommended it highly. He explained to me that the percussionist plays an instrument he created which is basically a digital instrument played with the fingers. This could explain why this band's sound is so unique. It is amazing indeed that the music on these two CDs was recorded live by only three fellows...because the sound is big, thick, and very complex. I want to call this world music, but that label is too limiting. This stuff simply makes me feel good...and I LIKE to feel good. Hot damn! (Rating: 5)

FLOWCHART - Cumulus Mood Twang (CD, Carrot Top, Ambient/electronic)
Believe it or not, the title of Flowchart's latest CD is a good indication of what the music sounds like. And if you find the title confusing, just WAIT until you hear the music! This CD is a great leap forward for this band...and it's one of those rare cases where technology (and money) has enabled a band to reach greater heights than they reached before. The "tunes" on this release are actually more like mood pieces. Electronics sweep by...breathy vocal samples breeze in and out of the speakers...the overall sound is something like having a dream (a very GOOD dream, that is...). Bandleader Sean O'Neal claims this is the disc he's been wanting to make ever since he started playing music. He's sure got a winner on his hands this time. And no, this does NOT remind me of Stereolab! (Rating: 5)

FRIGG-A-GO-GO - The Penetrating Sounds Of... (CD, 360 Twist!, Garage rock)
Totally fun garage rock played the right way by the right folks. Recorded in Lafayette, Louisiana, this batch of tunes COOKS. The band plays basic retro garage rock with extremely cool guitar licks and sixties organ sounds. The edges are just ragged enough, and the vocals have just the right of distortion to give this band an amazingly authentic sound. The band comes up with some real KILLER tunes on this one, including "I Don't Wanna Be Your Man," "Highway 389," "Straight To Hell," and "Crash Up Derby." Sheesh...even El Vez loves this band...that ought to be reason enough to check these guys out. The fine folks at 360 Twist sent their latest catalog along with this CD, and it's rather amazing indeed how MUCH stuff these folks have put out. Garage rock enthusiasts would do well to check out these folks' mail order business... (Rating: 5)

H2O - Thicker Than Water (CD, Epitaph, Rock)
Fast, nervous, noisy, angry, violent, spastic...this band plays highly charged nervous rock music with total abandon. The band is led by Toby Morse, who was a roadie with Sick Of It All for several years. H2O music is basically thrash/metal played at high speed. The vocals switch in and out of screaming, often within the scope of the same song. Oddly enough, it's when the band slows down just a bit that things get interesting (a good example is "Sacred Heart"). Hey all you finicky skinheads out there! This is the REAL thing, not some corporate manufactured slop. This band is NOT for everyone. More specifically, they will probably appeal most to all those closeted young alternative fellows out there who are inclined to take their shirts off in mosh pits and jump all over each other in an attempt to unleash all that sexual tension inside. H2O is big, fast, frantic FUN. (Not Rated)

HARMONIA 76 - Tracks and Traces (CD, Ryko, Electronic)
Have we really come a long, long way...or haven't we? Judging from Rykodisc's recent release of these 1976 recordings by Hans Joachim Roedelius, Michael Rother, Dieter Moebius, and Brian Eno...the answer is "probably not." Never before available in any form, this batch of tunes rivals and surpasses many of the current electronic CDs...simply because of the imagination and creativity present in the compositions. I think the problem with many modern electronic artists is that folks overdo and overplay to the point of overkill. This CD is a lesson in restraint. Instead of ultra layers of too many sounds, the overall sound is sparse and simple. Nine tunes, including "Vamos Companeros," "Sometimes in Autumn," "Almost," and "When Shade Was Born." Obtuse and relaxing. Genuine and real. (Rating: 5)

HARMONY ROCKETS - I've Got A Golden Ticket (CD EP, No. 6, Pop/electronic)
A quick review here just to let you know that Harmony Rockets is the new project by the folks who used to be Mercury Rev (one of the best and most overlooked bands of the nineties). This EP features three cover tunes...the title track is from the Willy Wonka movie and the other two are Vangelis tunes. In all honesty, I can't stand the title sounds like a bad tune from Saturday Night Fever. But the Vangelis covers are really cool. Anyway...this is a band to be on the watch for... (Not Rated)

HECKLE - The Complicated Futility of Ignorance (CD, Hopeless, Rock)
Really good hard rock with attitude and balls. Guitars flail. Drums and bass crash and bang. And the vocalist teeters precisely on that fine line between singing and screaming. The whole package works quite nicely, making Heckle a very believable hard rock band. The tunes are basically rhythm heavy with a definite lack of lead guitar (all right!). Some of these tunes sound like they might fit into college radio playlists...but other tracks are so hostile and violent that they'll probably only get played on experimental stations. Fourteen tunes that are absolutely ON FIRE. Our faves are "Joke's On Me" and "Infinite Loop." It is highly likely that these guys are hot, hot, HOT in concert... (Rating: 4)

HOLIDAY - Cafe Reggio (CD, spinART, Pop)
Easy listening pop that sounds something like a sparser, slower, American version of the Housemartins. This is the band's third full-length and it also contains four tracks that were originally released as the band's first single ("New Year's Anything," "Happy If You Knew It," "Periwinkle," and "Candy"). Comparing the old material to the new, it seems as if the band has opted for a softer overall sound by dropping the noisy guitars. Our favorite track here is "All I Want." (Not Rated)

IDIOT FLESH - Fancy (CD, Vaccination, Weird rock)'s a STRANGE one. Oakland, California's Idiot Flesh are like a weird mix between GWAR and Savannah's GAM with strange threads of seventies progressive rock bleeding in and out. Apparently a VERY THEATRICAL live band, Idiot Flesh have recorded one CRAAAAAAAAZY CD. Sometimes they're scarey, sometimes industrial, sometimes humorous...sometimes almost poppy. But whatever they are doing, these guys sound like they MEAN it. This is one of those acts that fits into the category of difficult listening...because this stuff is simply NOT for everyone. Songs like "Dead Like Us," "Teen Devil Worshipper," "Chicken Little," "Diggity Cow and the Dandy Mr. Clyde" are not the usual fare heard from any sort of rock band. The band's motto (and/or credo) is "Rock Against Rock." I like that idea. I like it A LOT. Very KICKASS and COOL idea and sound. Plus, I love the packaging on this one...(Rating: 5)

IRON MONKEY - Iron Monkey (CD EP, Earache, Death metal)
Early Black Sabbath with a bunch of unintelligible screaming. I like death metal and assaultive rock music, but these folks give me a headache. The music sounds like Paranoid remixed, and the vocals are just plain bad. Too many bands take the approach of screaming like a blur over loud music lately. And how about all those satanic references? My oh my...I am SO shocked and offended. (Rating: 2)

IVY - Apartment Life (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
I have been nuts about this obscure pop band for some time now. They should have already caught on in a BIG way. The band consists of Dominique Durand, Andy Chase, and Adam Schlesinger (who is better known for his other band Fountains of Wayne). Ivy scared me with their last single on Scratchie Records by forsaking their pure pop for dance music. Thank God the band has returned to their original sound on Apartment Life...which may just be their best release yet. Super smooth pop in the purest sense of the word, Ivy tunes are subtle, easy listens. In a perfect world songs like "The Best Thing," "I've Got a Feeling," "Never Do That Again," and "Back In Our Town" would be heating up the airwaves. But in the real world this isn't likely to happen. You see, Ivy's music is simply too good to be played on all those asswipe commercial stations out there. And because the music is smooth and melodic, it doesn't seem suited for college radio either. Though there has yet to be an appreciative market for Ivy, the band continues in their mission to provide some of the very best soft pop available ANYWHERE. Yes. Yes. Yessssssssssssssssssss... (Rating: 6)

JETENDERPAUL - Trying Signals: The Histrionics of Suggestion (CD, Velvet Blue, Peculiar pop)
I can size up most CDs after one listen. This one took several listens, and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. Jetenderpaul sounds like a home recorded project made with little regard for sales or radio airplay. The tunes are stream of consciousness pop music with jagged and sometimes skewed edges. Featuring over 20 tunes (!), the compositions on this CD go all over the place while generally staying within the boundaries of pop music. This is definitely a disc that does NOT sound like all the rest. This is a VERY good thing... (Rating: 4)

ELTON JOHN - The New Jerry Lewis (CD, Charity, Charity pop)
Check out the lyrics to the title track on Elton John's latest CD: "For so many years I worked my way to the I'm the new Jerry Lewis. If Jerry can beg then so can I...but I'll beg for dying fags instead of crippled kids...La dah dah dah dah." Though Elton deserves some credit for laying it on the line, I still can't help but hate him. That hair transplant was the beginning of the end. True...he is becoming more like Mr. Lewis judging by his latest drunken take on "Candle in the Wind" that contains the lyric "Goodbye English uterus." Elton used to be entertaining. Now he is simply annoying. Charities and benefits are for assholes. Go back to England, Elton. We don't want you here. (Rating: 1)

JONATHAN FIRE EATER - Wolf Songs For Lambs (CD, DreamWorks, Rock/pop)
Interesting. I have heard a great deal about this band, and a great many folks have highly recommended their live show. Jonathan Fire Eater's recorded work reminds me of a softer, more moody Richard Hell. The band keeps things simple which works in their favor, often times opting for a poppy approach. Vocalist Stewart Lupton's speak/sing style works perfectly with these tunes. Enjoyable stuff. I have the feeling that this band's live show might push their rating up a couple of notches... (Rating: 4)

KARA'S FLOWERS - The Fourth World (CD, Reprise, Pop)
Whoa...this music was written and recorded by...TEENAGERS? Believe it or not, it's true. And this is one group of "teeners" who can teach all the old farts out there a thing or two about writing a great pop tune. Kara's Flowers' sound is something like a cross between the Records, the Beatles, and even the Raspberries at times. Very seventies sounding stuff. The music is pure pop to be certain...but there are surprises in the arrangements and melodies that make this band something truly out of the ordinary. The only slight complaints I have are that (a) sometimes the glossy production makes this unique band sound somewhat generic and (b) at times I think I'm listening to Sting (bleah!). If I had rated this CD, it would have received a VERY high rating. These fellows have the potential to get a "6" in the future however because they are truly talented. A little less polish and a few jagged edges would make Kara's Flowers one of the best pop bands around. This is a band to watch. (Not Rated)

LITTLE BOBBY TAYLORS - What Ya'll Got Goin' On Up There...A Carnival? (CD, Slipshot, Country/pop/progressive)
This band is difficult to pin down. Are they country? Are they alternative pop? Are they progressive? Are they bluegrass? Actually, the answer is...all of the above. Little Bobby Taylors consists of five men and one woman, all of whom write material. The band has a dense sound that drifts in and out of all styles of music. But through it all, the confiction and sincerity of the players shinges through...making this CD a hell of an enjoyable listen. Good vocals throughout. The title? I'm not sure exactly...but my guess is that it's a quote from a neighbor complaining about the noise. You can check out the band's web site at (Rating: 4)

JAS. MATHUS AND HIS KNOCK-DOWN SOCIETY - Play Songs for Rosetta (CD, Mammoth, Ragtime/blues/gospel)
As any frequent reader of my worthless words may recall, I harbor a deep and dangerous hatred for charities and benefits. The idea makes me downright violent. Odd as it may seem, I find the idea behind this CD touching and heartfelt. Jas. Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers isn't using his clout to direct funds to some schmaltzy human rights organization (like ultra-asswipe Peter Gabriel or whoever that shithead is who sings in the band U2). Instead, he recorded this CD with friends for the specific purpose of raising funds to help the family of Rosetta Brown. So who the hell is THAT you may be asking? Ms. Brown is a longtime family older black lady who was the housekeeper, cook, and baby-sitter when Mr. Mathus was a youngster. After her recent stroke, Jas. released this CD to help generate funds to help her and her family. Not only is the idea behind this disc cool indeed, but the music COOKS. I wish the best for Rosetta...and Mr. Mathus gets bonus points in babysueland for helping out someone who helped him long ago. I guess success doesn't ruin EVERYONE... (Rating: 5)

THE MEATLES - Meat the Meatles (CD, Jayvee, Egyptian mock)
Just when I thought I had heard it all. This Egyptian band does a take on the You-Know-Whos like I've never heard before. The songs remain the same, but the words have changed. Songs include "Can't Buy Me Pork Chops," "I Want To Hold Your Sausage," "Help! (Me With This Stew Meat)," "Yesterrump," "Ticket To Ribs," "All You Need Is Hot Dogs," "(You've Got To) Hide Your German Shepherd Steaks," "I Don't Want To Spoil the Streak O Lean," and "Yellow Submarine Sandwich With Extra Veal." This is so good that it's bad. Bad, bad...baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah....ddddddd... (Rating: 1)

MISERY LOVES CO. - Not Like Them (CD, Earache, Industrial/guitar rock)
This is the second full-length from Misery Loves Co., the duo of Patrick Wiren and Orjan Ornkloo. These two guys produce guitar driven rock than ranges from alternative to industrial to pop to screamer thrash. Their wall-of-guitars sound is dense and overpowering, but the vocals still manage to come out on top. Interestingly, they chose to cover one of my favorite older XTC tunes ("Complicated Game"), and they do an interesting take on it. Lots of bands are going for this kind of sound these days, but for some reason I like these guys stuff more than most... (Rating: 3)

THE MUFFS - Happy Birthday To Me (CD, Reprise, Power pop)
I know, I know. This isn't exactly new. But it's new to me...and because I love The Muffs I wanted to do this late breaking review. This band and the Fastbacks are the two very BEST power pop bands with female vocalists that I know of. The bands are very similar. They both play fast and loud, but underneath it all there are very strong melodies and hooks. And both are completely irresistable. Though this is only the third full-length release from the Muffs, they've made an extremely strong mark on the world of underground music. Lead vocalist Kim Shattuck is a real personality. She's got the looks and the pipes to make these tunes KICK. There are so many knockout tunes on this disc that it'll make your head swim. Top knotchers include "Crush Me," "Honeymoon," "Pennywhore," "Upside Down," and "You and Your Parrot." Though they've yet to make it commercially, the Muffs are a knockout success in the world of power pop...and Happy Birthday To Me is a whirlwind of FUN. (Rating: 6)

THE MULTIPLE CAT - "Universe" Shall Mean the Self (CD EP, TRG, Skewed pop)
Odd pop music. Basically the studio project of a fellow named Pat Stolley, this is a band that does not sound like all the others. This EP finds the band continuing in their mission to merge the accessible with the inacessible...and they do it well. But only SIX tunes? Geez...I HATE CDs THAT COULD HAVE HAD 70 MINUTES WORTH OF MUSIC...BUT DON'T (especially when I really like the band). I, for one, would like to hear Pat's explanation of what the titles of his releases mean (if anything). Once again, The Multiple Cat please and dumbfound. An excellent yet still obscure outfit. (Rating: 4)

THE NORMAL - "Warm Leatherette"/"T.V.O.D." (CD single, Mute, Electronic pop)
We applaud the fine folks at Mute for rereleasing this trend setting single from the seventies. I still have about ten copies of the original U.S. 7" vinyl single (I figured this would be a collector's I got 'em CHEAP at a flea market YEARS ago...). But regardless...these two songs have held up amazingly well over time. If you never heard The Normal, pick up a copy. These songs sound GREAT in digital stereo... (Rating: 6)

OUSIA - Why Is That A Four? (CD, UltraModern/TRG, Electyronic)
Really COOL electronic soundscape CD. Ousia is five people who manage to come up with a real winner (for folks into abstract electronic CDs). These are not songs in the typical sense of the word. Instead, this band takes sounds and layers them together intelligently. The overall effect is like dreaming or zoning out on a hot summer afternoon. The song titles are as abstract as the music: "Vessel Mylar," "Innate Principles," "Future Perfect," "Position Ellipse," "Angular Pillow Gate"... This band obviously doesn't give a goddamn shit about radio airplay or making money. They might name their next release Why Was That A Five?...because that's what we're giving this fabulously weird disc. Daddy LIKES this one a LOT... (Rating: 5)

PLUG - Drum 'n' Bass For Papa + Plug EPs 1, 2 & 3 (Double CD, Blue Planet/Nothing/Interscope, Drum and bass)
Wow...this may be my favorite drum and bass CD EVER. Plug is actually Luke Vibert, who many folks may know as Wagon Christ. This guy has recorded an amazing amount of material, and he's done a whole slew of remixes to boot. Though this music does fit in the drum and bass category, that's actually a bit limiting in trying to describe this. Yeah, the heavy bass lines and emphasis on percussion are there...but Mr. Vibert is so clever and so incredibly inventive technology-wise...that this actually transcends the genre that it supposedly fits into. The fine folks at Nothing decided to include a second CD in this package that includes the first three Plug EPs...making this release MORE than a mouthful of technological thrills. Turn off the lights, turn UP the volume...and drift away. Spacey and TRIPPY. (Rating: 6)

PRINCESS SUPERSTAR - CEO (CD, A Big Rich Major Label, Rap)
What?!? A rap CD...that I LIKE??? I can't quite figure this out. Perhaps it is because in this case the rapper is a white woman instead of a black man. The reason I normally HATE rap is that it is generally nothing more than a bunch of canned rhythms combined with a bunch of monkeys babbling. This is different. Studio tricks abound on this thick, intense collection of tunes. And the songs do NOT all sound the same. Princess Superstar seems to be one of those starstruck self promoters (like the always entertaining Ru Paul) who will probably get the fame and attention she desires. I wanna see this chick live. I bet she's fun. (Rating: 3)

Q3Lxx*&BBB - Blessle Flah Dah Dah Preeeeeek (8-track, Mackie-Plop, Sploosh)
Drixel placker flah. Shhhhhhhh...dunnuh wokk duh mumber. Ack, sher whudduh moe foe brush? Q3Lxx*&BBB max flashel broth...broth under missy. Missy fraws black, shacks at the max and tacks blister under FLAW. Tooter flex the ninner, ninner bosses the poosie. Awe...nax der plax under der MOOSH...moosh plinter frawdy butt...BLUTT! Blue, blue, green, apple, jackass, memorabilia...but still BLUTT! Neenie mawnie poonie popper... (Rating: 1)

SUPERHORSE - H is For Superhorse (Independent cassette single, Jimmy the Barber, Rock)
I believe this is the first release from this Savannah, Georgia based band. "Superchick," the first tune, was recorded live on the band's recent tour opening up for Moe Tucker. Pure rock and roll fun. Side two contains "Oh Maria" and "Can You See Me?," the latter of which is a Jimi Hendrix cover. Good basic rock music with balls and macho energy. For more info, send SASE to 22 W. Bryan St., Suite #158, Savannah, GA 31401. (Not Rated)

TODAY IS THE DAY - Temple of the Morning Star (CD, Relapse, Devil rock)
We sure get a lot of devil worship/satanic rock music in our mailbox these days, but THIS one's different somehow... Hey all you Marilyn Manson fans out there! You think Mr. Manson is evil and bad? Well, you ain't heard NUTHIN' until you hear Today Is The Day's latest CD. Fronted by Steve Austin (who looks more like a centerfold for Bear Magazine than a satanic/metal rocker), this band is LOUD, VIOLENT, ANGRY, DISTURBED, PERVERTED...just about all the things any teenager could want from a rock band. Besides the lyrics (which you'll have to read to believe how alienated they are), what sets this band apart from other hate/satanic/metal bands is the fact that they do more than just blast out noise and screaming. Tracks like "Temple of the Morning Star," "My Life With You" (my favorite track), and "I See You" present a different side of this uniquely disturbed band. Sure, most of it IS blaring loud hate rock...but it's those offbeat moments where the band becomes unpredictable that make it unique (check out "Rabid Lassie"...coooooOOOOOOL!). One suggestion for Mr. Austin. Do NOT shave off the beard. Sexy, man...SEXY! And could someone out there refresh my memory...wasn't the lead character on the Million Dollar Man TV series ALSO called Steve Austin? And could this be the same fellow after PLASTIC SURGERY? Duh? (Rating: 5)


Bad Stain (Magazine, Issue #3)
- Four Legs in the Morning (Independently released CD, Spoken word/noise)
Big Wreck
- In Loving Memory Of... (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Boo Boo - Yogi's Got A Big One (CD, Triple City, Hardcore)
Brutal Juice - Sounds of the Animal Kingdom (Hard rock/acid noise)
Buttercup - Love (CD, Spirit of Orr, Pop)
Dance Hall Crashers
- Honey I'm Homely (CD, MCA, Pop)
Discount - Half Fiction (CD, Kat, Pop)
DMZ (Magazine, Issue #3)
Download - III (CD, Nettwerk, Electronic)
Eva Trout - Eva Trout (CD, Trauma/Interscope, Pop)
Fluke - Risotto (CD, Astralwerks, Electronic)
Frontline Assembly - Reclamation (CD, Roadrunner, Industrial/rock)
Glitterbox - Tied & Tangled (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Hecate Enthroned - The Slaughter Of Innocence, A Requiem For The Mighty (CD, Death/Metal Blade, Satantic death metal rock)
Hot Box Lunch - Viva La Grooveout! (CD, HYPD, Pop/rock)
Individual Fruit Pie - Lay-By Lullaby (CD, No. 6, Pop)
Janet Jackson - My Private Black Area (CD, Landing, Pop)
Jaded - Hello, Goodbye (CD, Mad Dog, Pop)
Jumped By Fences - Your Here (CD, You Are What You Think, Pop)
Kemuri - Little Playmate (CD, Roadrunner, Ska/punk)
Nick Kelly - Between Trapezes (CD, Lunch, Pop/folk)
Lifter Puller - Half Dead and Dynamite (CD, TRG, Rock)
Mad Truckers Gone Mad - Mad Truckers Gone Mad (CD, Crustacean, Rock)
Mandingo - Rock Like A Phoenician! (CD, Dirty, Rock)
Mojave - Electronic Compilation (CD, Volcano, Electronic/various artists)
My So-Called Band - My So-Called Band (CD, Yesha, Inc., Pop/rock)
Nine Inch Nails - Power of Nails (CD, Henrique Imports, Industrial)
Nobodys - The Smell of Victory (CD, Hopeless, Rock)
Oneida - A Place Called El Shaddai's (CD, Turnbuckle, Rock/experimental)
Panel Donor - Surprise Bath (CD, Sonic Bubblegum, Rock)
POPsmear (Magazine, Issue 12.0/Oct.-Nov. 1997)
Powerman 5000 - Mega!! Kung Fu Radio (CD, Dreamworks, Rock)
Rank Strangers - Target (CD, TRG, Rock)
Frank Rogala - Mixes Against Nature (CD, Integrated Entertainment, Gay pop)
Sam Black Church - That Which Does Not Kill Us (CD, Untangled, Rock)
Sleepyhead - Late Night Thinkin' (CD EP, Sealed Fate, Pop)
Supernovice - Timely (CD, Onset)
Starflyer 59 - Plugged (CD, Velvet Blue, Pop/rock)
Dan Susnara - Sus and Them (Independent cassette, Rock/pop)
T. Rex - Auto Accident With A Black Whore (CD, Flow, Rock)
Up, Bustle and Out - Che Guevara...A Dream of Land and Freedom (CD EP, Ninja Tune, Electronic collage)
Velvet Chain - Warm (CD, Overall, Rock)


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