Clint Kaster Takes On...
CDs That Didn't Make It Into The Main Review Section
By: Clint Kaster
On loan from pomn.com where he writes "The World According To Me" here is Clint Kaster...
When Alex slyly suggested that I lend a hand in the "overwhelming" stack of CD's he was supposed to review I thought he was stretching the truth a bit. Then he brought the stack. It's big. In the interest of letting somebody get their name in print, maybe for THE FIRST TIME (or maybe not, I'm kinda surprised at how many of these bands are familiar), I'm going to summarize these albums pretty quickly. This is no TWO LOUIES blow job review that goes on forever about each individual track and ends by comparing them to NUSHOOZ or EVERCLEAR (can someone pleeez bitchslap S.P. CLARKE for his latest pile of sins against humanity--hey, DAVE WALKER.....). I am a bit worried that I may have inadvertently given away the best of the bunch, however, when I gave the LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY disc to the engineer at Berbati's who was doing such a great job in facilitating the PINEHURST KIDS rrrriot-boy pummeling of an enthusiastic Thursday night crowd. Sigh.
|The first CD was "Dirty Wake" by COLLAPSIS and I was stunned to realize that I'd heard the lead track "Automatic" which sounds nothing like the next two songs. The rest of the album veers between lite versions of LIVE songs and inane crap that made me fear for my everlasting soul. How come the (formula-written) radio hit sounds like NOTHING ELSE here? I'm not one to expect the same song over and over and, in fact, I belittle Everclear and REM for that sin regularly but anybody who buys this thinking they're getting a rock band is in for a bad surprise. If you like Simon & Garfunkel's edgier moments and wish that the Christian rock band down the street hadn't broken up (something about one of the members experiencing sexual ecstacy) this might be right up your alley. Not that you'd be in an alley, of course....after dark, cruising for some chiva to dull the senses and let you finally take the neighbors cat firmly in hand.....I'm giving this to my ex-girlfriend's roommate on the expectation that I'll never have to hear it again that way.
|I can't mock FACTORY81 for being inconsistent on their, I assume, debut "Mankind". Can we start calling it "the second wave of Korn" yet? Equal parts RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and TOOL mixed with a suburban high school kids view of serial killing via unintelligible New Metal scat vocals....unrelenting and vicious but I suspect, looking at the picture inside the CD, that these "misfits" pick up their rooms when Mom asks and take out the trash every Sunday night in return for an ample allowance. But if I wanted to rile up a bunch of 15-yr-olds at a sock hop, I'd beat the DJ and slip this jagged little pill into the mix. This disc goes into the pile headed for Newbury Comics to be traded for something I can listen to without breaking up the living room furniture.
|Scary as FACTORY81 want to be, I found BRITA's six song demo labeled "Britaworld.com" absolutely horrifying. Imagine BRITNEY SPEARS without any enunciation dropping some GIPSY KINGS guitarwork over a vaguely-Latin backing track. There is no redeeming value here. Off to resale with it.
|The duo of JAMES RAFTERY and JERAL BENJAMIN who comprise RAT WAKES RED remind me of a fey, sleepy ELLIOTT SMITH in an orchestral mood. From the long slow acoustic guitar intro to the viola pumps of "Ecstacy", "Dizzy on Daddy" is a bit of morning sunshine with late-night lyrics. I can't exactly place their sound and the fact that it's not an obvious knockoff of some popular schlock is a real plus in my book. They're not the most incredible lyricists I've ever read but the album is good enough to listen to again. Or at least paste into a compilation along with Elliott, THE COWBOY JUNKIES and MORPHINE, which is to say that they sound nothing like them but I wouldn't mind the neighborliness. This disc may actually make it home with me.
|I wish I had the bio and press kit for HIPSTER DADDY-O or HDH or whatever their name is because I'm curious how long it took them to figure out that the CHERRY POPPIN' DADDIES had discovered an interesting market niche. These guys got a song onto the "ME, MYSELF AND IRENE" soundtrack and if that turns your crank they're waiting for you with horns a-blowin'. Bring your jet-fuel funny car and expect to dance all night with that cute girl from down the block. My ex gets a shot at this and she may like it enough to keep it.
|RED RADIO FLYER let the cover art do the talking on "gettin' somewhere" and the promise of jangly retro-almost-country-songwriting is borne out in lonely highways and late-night endings. The deep red saturation of the background makes reading the CD booklet difficult (god, I miss albums and large print) but this, too, earns a place on the blue evening compilation. We'll drink a slow beer and watch the stars come out and somewhere these boys are not only taking out the trash but coming back in to tell their mothers that they rinsed out the garbage can cuz it was starting to get a bit ripe. I'm definitely keeping this one.
|I was tempted to pass by the DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS album, "Alabama Ass Whuppin'" but caught the blunt "produced by Earl Hicks" note on the back and thought I'd give it a shot. Hell, I was so melancholy after Red Radio Flyer that I thought a little whuppin' might get me going again. What I got was a double-dose of a Southern Man's CRAZY HORSE recorded live across Georgia and left with loose ends and whiskey stains. Some great stories told by a bar band in fine form, this album may not make it on the stereo often but some crazy Saturday morning....
|12VOLTSEX take the interesting approach of delivering 11 songs "from the forthcoming album" on BMG/RCA which leads me to wonder if it's a double album or what? Mixing the AOR of SMASH MOUTH with a few ALEXAKIS-isms, these guys have the harmonies and tuneful alterna-rock that will make radio station programmers cream their pants. No slam on these guys -- this is better than most of "alternative" dreck that clogs up the pubescent arteries like some kind of Nutrasweet overdose. There's almost a touch of Seattle's SEMISONIC here. Although they'll probably be seen primarily on radio station mega-band festivals, they'd be a ball in a small sweaty club with 84 of their closest friends. I'll leave this with the ex and either she or her roommate will enjoy it enough to make it feel as if it had a worthwhile life.
|How did "alternative" manage to attract all the guys who had spent the previous decade learning the solo on "Run To The Hills"? I guess that the aesthetic that first attracted me to punk, as we knew it in that relatively label-less Golden Age, lives on as "indie rock" after the V*I*C*T*O*R*Y of the alternative nation. Well, revoke my passport because if I have to hear one more piece of powerpop crap like STIR's album "Holy Dogs" I'm going to be put away for violence toward a couple of these Bible-poster-children. Argh. While the roommate may tolerate this one, my antipathy leads me to think resale here.
|What is management thinking when they send out a smash #1 UK hit album (oxymoron?) to a little e-zine? I recognized the name as having been seen before somewhere and TRAVIS seems inoffensive enough as only wan Brits can manage. If you wish that RADIOHEAD would write actual songs and sing intelligibly you might enjoy "The Man Who" although it lacks the power and pomp of Thom and the boys. The album kept growing on me and before I knew it I had listened to the whole thing. Hmmmm. I might even look for another Travis album in the promotional dumpster so that this one doesn't feel so lonely on my shelf in the 'T' section.
|The eponymous "13 by Earnest Woodall" starts with a brooding, Tom Waits-ish feel. These instrumental tracks are the stuff of haunted woods and Southern clearings. EARNEST WOODALL has a good grasp of complex music. It ain't rock'n'roll but if you like Tom Waits but the voice grates after awhile? Well, here's the answer. I left this CD on while reading and woke up the next morning the recipient of freaky dreams set up as orchestral movements. Cool. It's a keeper.
|Really missing ALICE IN CHAINS (that name still cracks me up) or maybe wish that smart-metal hadn't had such a short run (KINGS X and early SOUNDGARDEN)? Well, this is your lucky day because you're going to want to rush out and look up ISLE OF Q's self-titled debut. This is a recent release but the whiff of 1991 is all over the minor-key vocal progressions and plodding sludge bass lines. Very very very low points for creativity and maybe only slightly higher than execution -- while this sound may have been a real contender ten years ago I have to insist on holding them to a higher standard. This has better harmonies maybe but mostly sounds like a batch of outtakes. Lord, I hope I can use this as trade-in at Newbury. I hope they've never heard it before.
|Y'know, it strikes me that listening to this much music may not be good for one. The boys in BIG ASS TRUCK don't deliver the TAD-like crunch implied by the name but wind off in a gentle loop down the territory mined by THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS and BARE NAKED LADIES with the occasional burst of 311 thrown in for good measure. It's not bad stuff, per se, but it's not a real grabber, either. One of the girls will think it's cute although they'll be put off by the name.
|My ex-girlfriend is going to love AMELIA'S DREAM. As a fan of THE CORRS (in her defense, she saw them long before they hit VH1 and I'm forced to accept her report that they kick ass live among the unwashed Irish of Boston) and ALANIS MORRISSETTE, she will probably put "Love Tattoo" on heavy rotation. The cover of "Evil Ways" is a bad idea, however, and I can only wonder what the hell they were thinking. Fans of AYN RAND will take note of the lyrical content on "Garden" and rejoice that musicians have finally seen the light. I'm not even going to try prying it away when I leave.
|I got maybe four notes into the first song on "Suburbs of Eden" by DEBBIE ANDREWS before hitting the track advance and listened to four words of the next song. This is crap. Heartfelt, sappy, mushy, girl-in-a-room-with-synthesizer crap. Debbie get a fucking job that you hate and quit daydreaming about angels and dogs. God doesn't love you for this. I just hope it can be traded in before someone offers a frisbee mercy-killing.
|What The Lord does love is up for debate (although given the written record on the consequences of really pissing him off I sure wouldn't want to be Amy Grant at the Pearly Gates) but I'd nominate the mostly-instrumental soundscapes of "Demain", a sampler from Silber Records in Raleigh, North Carolina. Atonal but pretty, this qualifies as lite listening for only a few. The disc allows your imagination to craft moods between the notes, suggesting and pointing but rarely demanding. It would be better as an all-instrumental album--the tracks with vocals are bad. Loosely structured as 20 tracks by 10 artists, although some are disproportionately represented, the album flows well and would seem like an alternative to Van Morrison if, as an example, you have a houseful of Goth rockers who need to get their asses out of bed and eat some pancakes at 4pm. Yessirree, this'd be the ticket and I'm taking it home and programming the player to avoid the vocal cuts.
Alex, I don't know how long I can go on like this. Hell, I don't know if anybody can tolerate reading any more than this. Give me some feedback. Write me. Tell me how much you love me.
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