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Toys That Kill : Control The Sun

The Kennedy's : Stand : Koch Records (2003)

The Kennedy's are a little bit country and a little bit gospel soul. Pete and Maura Kennedy met at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas and run in circles with Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle and Kelly Willis. Rather than regurgitating the entire bio I will let you check it out at www.kochentertainment.com under "KOCH RECORDS". Instead, I will try to paint a visual picture of this singer/ songwriter, pop, gospel music on “Stand”, which seems to focus on the simpler things in life.

what youll find inside
superjoint ritual
austin's sex in the city
wendy's wwad
comix
bartendar spotlight
elysium
red eyed fly
EMO'S
room 710
beerland
off the streets
chump change
off-sides

Imagine a beautiful green field full of flowers and kids swaying from side to side with teletubbies bobbing and weaving thru the crowd. They are all joyous and carefree and all they need is the melodic sound of Maura Kennedy’s voice singing "Dance around In the Rain" and "Anna and the Magic Gown," to make this a harmonious and uplifting musical work. Some of the lyrics dealing with death in "When I Go" are over the kids heads, but this is only a mental picture I am painting and there are lots of adults who would eventually end up in this field with the teletubbies strumming along on guitars. By the end of this album, I suspect teletubbies also play guitars and lots of the adults will cry their eyes out.

So if your life has taken a turn for the worse and your life has turned into a country song, take the Slayer CD out of the stereo and spend a little feel good time with The Kennedys. Soothing and relaxing, singing from the heart, you can pick up "Stand" just in time for a great Christmas present for you mother or that religious cousin or singer/songwriter coworker you always buy socks for.

-Beth Sams


 

Bahrain CD Review : S/T (2003)

I caught Bahrain at Beerland fresh off their tour with ST-37 and Primordial Undermind and was able to pick up what I had been waiting for - their self-titled latest release.

Since first seeing this group nearly a year ago Bahrain has consistently proven themselves among the most innovative and adventurous bands on the local scene and, while still unmastered and totally homemade, this CD does not disappoint.

The instrumental “Yukon” opens the disk with its bass led drone and icy bits of guitar which lull you into a sense of calm before the blizzard “Trapped In The Ice Floes” roars in on Scott Telles’ lilting scream.

“Bloody Wheel” pushes the power drone sound even farther, almost over the edge when “TV Stiinks” brings you back with its catchy danceable lullaby.

“Let Them Win” picks the steam back up with it’s only lyrics - the enigmatic, but pregnant title - chanted over and over, and with the band pushing the tempo past the red line.

The last half of the CD showcases more of the slow, swirly side of the band. “Tortoise Is Dreaming”, “Watching The Hydroplanes” and “Celene, Poet Of Disgust” give you a chance to take a breath, but “I Know Nothing Good” turns the volume and speed back up, while “I'm Not Who I'm Supposed To Be” is a trancey stoner dream.

I wondered how well Bahrain would be able to package their psychedelic live show into a permanent document and am very happy with the outcome.

There’s a few places where the disc’s lack of polish distracts you from the songs underneath and I think “Metaphysical Freakout” would be better left off or with stronger lyrics, but as my only complaint it’s a minor one.

See these guys. And when you do shell out the fiver for the album. You won’t regret it.

-C. Iago


Acid Ape : Fleshspa : LunaSound Records (2003)

If you like exuberant, guitar driven music, pop Acid Ape into your stereo and turn the volume up loud. You are about ready to be blown away with their fierce, attention demanding sound. These boys prove that Sweden knows how to rock. Heavy on the guitar, this album really packs a punch and hits you hard. The raw, but rousing, vigorous vocals add a nice touch to this resounding blend of rhythmic guitar and essential bass. The drumming cannot be ignored either, just as heavy as the guitar, it sets the tone and pace for their ingenious sound.

“Tetna Shot” begs to be turned up. The first song on the album, I guarantee you cannot listen to this song all the way through without adjusting the volume on your stereo. Before long you will find yourself screaming and grooving to these musicians’ incredibly involved blend of fervent vocals and heavy rock music. “Mouthful” displays these guys’ extraordinary expertise. My favorite song, it had a powerful guitar piece at the beginning and ended with an explosive vocal and drum section. The last song on the album “Shitfaced” is a nice little ditty. This song is one that will get stuck in your head for days, but you won’t mind because you like it so much. It starts out calm and slow, then turns the energy up and comes at you full of force. So, go buy this album, make sure your neighbors aren’t around, turn the volume up, and rock ‘n roll.

-Misty Sweet


Guff : Engine Trouble : Go-Kart Records (2003)

Any track from this band’s first full length could be the senior song for graduating high school students across the globe. To me, this is not an admirable trait for up and coming bands. But neither is the fact that watered down pop-punk and crybaby lyrics are what all the kiddies are clinging to these days (see MTV, the mall or just open your friggin’ eyes)!

Hailing from Athens, Georgia, it is notable that Guff has committed to the DIY tactics of constant touring with bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Flogging Molly and local pop-punk favorites Dynamite Boy. This kind of work ethic may merit respect, but not adoration.

Guff’s sound is repetitive, with built-up power riffs that break into frantic start and stop drum progressions with punk fashioned axe shreds and boring “I can’t sing so I’ll whine for you’’ vocals. This kind of music is not original which forces me to search for some kind of humor or goodness within the lyrics.

However, I myself enjoy artistic phrasing that scratches more off the surface than “what do you think the word love meant…’’ or “…when kids make fun of you at school,’’ but hey, I’m not the one who will be buying a Guff record. On the contrary, all the emo youngsters should be bobbing their spiked-hair heads to this bubble gum punk with a box of tissues nearby.

-Smitty


Spark of Life : Promises Made, Promises Kept : Lorelei Records (2003)

Spark of Life is another radio-friendly screamo band. There has been a disturbing influx of melodic outfits that have vocally incorporated elements of hardcore into their pseudo-punk or post-punk sound over the last five years. However, this particular So-Cal four-piece does a respectable job putting their product together despite lacking originality.

From the opening track “From Ash Rises Hope,’’ the band lays down thick harmonies behind desperate yet hopeful screams and yells before an infectious bass line takes over the song, making it somewhat unique. On “Welcome Home Relax and Slow Down,’’ the band manages to effectively squeeze in a catchy piano riff as the lead vocalist pleas for having “…confidence as evidence.’’

Meanwhile, the album falls short through its lack of creativity and the progression of repeated heavy licks combined with sub-par vocals like “…Its not fair that you still take from me, I fall down again.’’ The start and stop drum formula attached to crunchy riffs are delivered in bulk and have been the recipe for a plethora of hard rock outfits as of late.

Overall, the full length comes off sounding clear and well–produced, but definitely not new or refreshing. If bands like Thrice, Atreyu or From Autumn to Ashes float your boat, then Spark of Life might tickle your fancy too.

-Smitty

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