Anticon (2003)

With 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.

The 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.

The 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.


Creep DivisionCreep Division/I Want Out
Split LP
Lorelei Records (2003)

Ah, 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, 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.

-Trevor Wallace

Wayne Hancock Wayne Hancock
Swing Time
Bloodshot Records (2003)

Talk 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.

What 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.

Another 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.

Its 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”.

-Isaac Friese

Capture The Flag Capture The Flag
Start From Scratch
Go Kart Records (2003)

Capture 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.

Steve 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.

Another 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

-Misty Sweet

Lower Class BratsLower Class Brats
A Class of Our Own

Punk Core Records (2003)

“I 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.

Punk 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.

Despite 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.

-Trevor Wallace

Gods Work

Austin Music Community (2003)

I've 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.

Although 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.

-Larry Stern

escape engineThe Escape Engine
Celebrity Role Model
Fidelity Records (2003)

Celebrity 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.

Mediocre 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.

-Rhiannon Dillon


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