Muted, the part-time emcee, part-time producer and full-time
emo hip-hop head known as Alias offers his second full length
of layered instrumental narcissism that plays like an amphetamine-spiked
digital bath. Part of the Anticon click, a group of genre-bending
producers and emcees that include back-packing notables Slug,
Sage Francis, Jel, Doseone and Passage, Alias himself has
constructed a true gem with his latest efforts.
artsy record manages to fuse different shades of Alias’
depth and emotion through the swarming matrimony of industrial
fuzz, jungle flirtations, rootsy hip-hop and whip-smart electronica
intensity. Fellow rock and rollers be warned—this is
a heavily produced record with computerized samples and very
little instrument playing. However, if you’ve ever zoned-out
to the artistic stylings of Portishead, Massive Attack or
can nod your head to the sonic journeys led by DJ Shadow,
you should check this kid out.
sounds on Muted will creep out of your radio speakers with
magnificent grandeur while riding a cruise control, psychedelic
brisk that is perfect for fucking, sleeping or developing
your own artistic integrity.
Division/I Want Out
Lorelei Records (2003)
the pain and misery of adolescence. Hating parents, hating
self, hating everyone except the freaks that you feel a bond
of mutual suffering with, generally products of abuse, alcoholism,
drug addiction or simply getting their asses kicked every
other day because of how they dress or just because they can.
Oh, the anger! Ah, the angst! Alas, the loneliness. Alack,
the perpetual acne and oily skin. The everyday hurdles and
obstacles overcome with the help of some anthemic SoCal power
pop. The bruises that are healed with a riff and a melodically
howled “Fuck you!”
Right. I haven’t been fourteen for a long, loooonng
time and while The Descendents will always occupy a very special
place in my heart, I’m not so sure a clone of the afore-mentioned
has a place in the twenty-first century outside of MTV-spawned
crap bands like Green Day, the Offspring, Rancid and other
bands of that ilk. Paul Weller of the Jam once said nothing
is new in rock, it had reached its limit as a musical form
in the 70’s. While I may not agree with that entirely,
it is certainly the case with the presumably Australian Creep
Division and I Want Out.
Riffs derivative by 1985, semi-preachiness like “Judge
not lest ye be judged yourself” (from C.D.’s “Circle
of Trust”) and the lack of a single original thought
are the soul and backbone of this split LP. No doubt these
bands are shit smoking hot live, but on this recording, they
simply fall flat.
Ok, so these guys are pros, veterans even. Boasting alumni
from Good Riddance, Sick of it All and Hedgehog among others,
these guys are no strangers - or youngsters who don’t
know any better, for that matter - to this particular played
out sub-sub-genre. Doing what they love or stuck in a really
unfortunate rut? Maybe I’m just old and jaded.
Whatever, I blame video games and Cruz Records.
Bloodshot Records (2003)
about some road trip music. Wayne “The Train”
Hancock has struck a chord in my heart with a generous helping
of honky-tonk, blues, swing and country swag on his newest
album “Swing Time”. Now, I never really liked
country/honky tonk/swing, music because I found it hard to
sit through. But, thanks to Wayne and his bandmates, I have
learned that if you relax and enjoy the finger snappin’,
foot tappin’ stylings of a the aforementioned genres
combined then a smooth ride is guaranteed.
makes this album different? Well, I haven’t listened
to much of this stuff, but I did enjoy the fact that this
album was recorded live at The Continental Club in Austin,
Texas and all the “background” noise was present.
It made me feel as if I had been present at that moment of
recording surrounded by greasers, kickers and cool cats alike.
facet of this recording that has quite a draw is the guitar
picking of Eddie Rivers on the “straight steel”.
I couldn’t get it past me. Every time I would hear the
twangy sound which emanated forth it was kind of like a whirlwind
trapped in a time warp machine. Bending strings and Wayne’s
cool crooning easily make you think about the little things
in life and prove he’s no imposter, rather a unique
singer whose got the goods and delivers with ease.
not hard to imagine that when Wayne and his crew play there’s
a gaggle of starry eyed gals sitting up front clutching their
hands and fawning over the emotional and heartfelt lyrics.
By far the best tracks on this album are “Thunderstorms
and Neon Signs”, “We Three” and “Flatland
Boogie”. It’s enough to make you want to buy that
beat up ’49 Chevy Styleline Deluxe down the street,
slick your hair back and head down the highway with you honey
cruising to the tunes of Wayne “The Train”.
Start From Scratch
Go Kart Records (2003)
the Flag takes listeners on an excursion of colossal dimensions
on their latest album Start from Scratch. With thought provoking
lyrics, exhilarating guitar, rolling drum beats, and gruff,
raspy vocal styles, they beg for you to listen and take notice.
Tuttle(vocals and guitar), Ryan King (bass), and Steve Kay(drums)
have found a chemistry that works well for them. Separately
each musician possess a true gift, but grasps the concept
of blending each intricate part together to form this wonderful
treasure. My favorite song on the album, “ The Enemy
Hand,” is such a masterful work of well-executed talent.
Every songwriter should strive to write songs so in tune to
their music. “We walk this walk with such precision/Dancing
like a damsel in distress/We built our own circumference/Oh,
dancing in selective cadence.” These well crafted lyrics
are not only beautiful, but they suit the music so flawlessly.
amazing thing about this band is the artistic guitar. One
of the major things missing from a lot of new music these
days is innovative and adept guitar playing. This band solves
this problem by creating room for guitar music. Each and every
song on this album showcases the expertise of Tuttle’s
guitar abilities. If you like poetic lyrics, top notch guitar
music, okay, basically if you like music, this album is definitely
a must have. Hopefully, this band can keep the chemistry going
because we can expect great things from them I am sure
A Class of Our Own
Punk Core Records (2003)
am the golden boy/I will search and destroy,” growls
Bones DeLarge in the opening track of the Brats newest release
on New York’s Punk Core label. A lot can be read into
those two lines – they basically convey the message
of the band as a whole in the most succinct terms possible.
Not content with their assigned lot in life, the Lower Class
Brats seem content, nay delighted, to head-butt any conventional
beliefs and viewpoints into the gutter from which they themselves
have just crawled.
may be approaching middle age, but it still serves the same
purpose it always has: kick ego-bloated mainstream rock squarely
in the balls and cut its hair while it’s down. This
the Lower Class brats do with aplomb and a buzz saw guitar.
And even a hint of conscience. Behind the consumer nihilism
of Barbie Dolls (“Tear – Tear the heads/Tear the
heads off Barbie Dolls”) is a condemnation of this country’s
unrealistic image of women.
relying on the standard punk rock vocal/guitar/bass/drums
format, the Brats have actually managed to produce a record
that, while not necessarily breaking new ground sounds fresh
and in no way generic. In an ocean of faceless 3-chord wonders,
the Lower Class Brats have taken the next step and struggled
onto the beach.
Austin Music Community (2003)
been a fan of Hobble for a long time, so it was with much
anticipation that I picked up a copy of their new album Gods
Work. I've always considered them to be more of a live band.
In fact, I would say that Hobble is perhaps the most improved
regularly playing live band on the Red River circuit. Once
relegated to opening band status, Hobble has deservedly moved
up to headliner. Hobble is fronted by Oriah Lonsdale (vox)
who transforms himself into a vocalist version of Angus Young
onstage expending all of his energy until he is completely
exhausted, and Mike Flaten (guitar) who plays so aggressively
that he has to change his strings before every show. On bass
is "ZZ" Tom Balentine who is regularly seen getting
airborne at the gigs, and on drums is the much-underrated
Gene Loncon, who adds some Louisiana flavor to the band.
I have their earlier albums Blackmassking and Celebration,
which are fine albums, Gods Work is a big step forward for
Hobble. The album not only nicely compliments their live shows
but also stands on its own as a thoroughly enjoyable record.
Gods Work had me banging my head within minutes of putting
it on. The songs are well produced by Bryan Nelson of Sweatbox
fame. They are crisp, clear, and very light on effects, which
I like a lot. Much of their current live show is on here.
Some of my favorites are “Truckin'”, “Good
Times”, “Boxes”, “Love Slut”,
“Vernon County Outlaw Pt 2”, and “Cowboy
Song”. For those of you who enjoy live music of the
Red River variety this album is a must own. You can get a
copy at Room 710, Waterloo Records or at the next Hobble gig.
There will be a CD release party for Gods Work at Room 710
on Friday September 26th.
Celebrity Role Model
Fidelity Records (2003)
Role Model is an album that is easily judged at first listen
to be a bad Mars Volta rip off. The release by the New Jersey
quintet is harsh on the ears, mainly because of the vocal
stylings of Dom Lettera. I swear to Christ I’d rather
hear fingernails scraping a chalkboard than be subjected to
his tone-deaf singing voice and horrific lyrics.
drum loops on ‘The Curse (the gift and…)’
and “Weapon of Choice “ further hinder any listening
enjoyment of The Escape Engine. The most redeeming quality
of this band is guitarist George Leontaris, who has toured
with the likes of The Atari’s and Beefcake, but the
simple melody lines and lack of groove keep this album from
achieving any sonic continuity or flow. A major tune-up is
in order for The Escape Engine if they are ever realize any
dreams of stardom.