Clint Darling Slaughters...
By: Clint Darling
Clint Darling is on loan from pomn.com.
I missed the day commemorating Christ and discovered a bit too late that The King's holiday coincided with a slushy-snowy day in Cambridge (brrrrrrrr) but I'm wondering why we can't work up to a nice Ghandi 3-day weekend of loincloth wearing and vegetarianism. How could we market this to the masses in order to get a decent wave of consumerism attached? Well, sex sells and I can't think of anything I'd rather do over a long weekend in January than run around in jammies waving a hot toddy. Just gotta work the loincloth angle in......
Today we're in the offices of WZLY, the mighty voice of Wellesley College, and my cohort (I can't shorten that to "coho" or just plain "ho".....can I?? Ouch!! Alright, alright....) and partner in crime, CORTNEY HARDING, has a stack of CD's that have built up over their long Winter Break. Let's jump right in, shall we?
THE YOUNG FRESH FELLOWS haven't got this one on the shelves yet and, for my money, they may as well not bother. "Because We Hate You" is good, compotent, clever and a nice batch of songs...that sound like a YFF cover band. I will freely confess to having been, in my own mind, the biggest Fellows Fan on the face of the earth for an extremely long period of time. >From their appearance at Gorilla Gardens in the winter of 1984-5 (I forget whether it was before or after the New Year mark--but I'll never forget the thrill of being mistaken for a member of the band!) to dragging countless friends, mates and acquiantances to their shows at Bumbershoot, around Seattle and later Portland, I would buy anything loosely connected with them.
I loved this band. Even the horror of changing guitarists was made bearable because it was Kurt who joined and I loved their first appearance with him--the band providing backdrop for Kurt to clown his way through a lot of material that he very obviously didn't know. It worked because it was The Fellows. But the albums started to matter less. Kurt lent the band more immediacy and more visceral thrill but they lost a lot of palette. The flashes of brilliance ceased to be end-to-end and became, well, flashes. And I started thinking of them the same way I think of TOM PETTY or any other aging star who rehashes his own catalog. Does anyone care whether JOHN FOGARTY writes another version of "Born On The Bayou"? "Because We Hate You" doesn't break any stylistic boundaries for the Fellows. If anything it hardens the boundaries and leaves me shaking my head. They have at least three of the most brilliant albums in my personal night sky but I wish they'd quit sullying their reputation. Form a new band. Get a new name. But let me remember the Young Fresh Fellows as a bold voice drenched in pop wah-wah glory instead of as aging has-beens who spend their free time wacking off in a studio.
It's not in the pile but I've found myself listening to ALIEN CRIME SYNDICATE more and more over the past couple months. The first time I heard the CD (foisted on me by Our Evil Mastermind Himself) I thought it a pleasant little batch of songs but a bit on the lightweight side. I was wrong. The songs are simple but they've grown on me to the point where I use them on compiilations designed to impress young and innocent girls enough to get them to sleep with me. It's the closet record store clerk in me, I suppose. And seeing them live didn't hurt, either. At both AIMFest in Portland and a club show ACS rocked hard and rocked steady and isn't that enough?
So let's see what's in the pile, shall we??
First off, it needs to be said that whoever spews out this endless stream of really bad punk bands covering fairly mundane or silly Top40 Hits needs to be taken out and stomped. Hard. Please don't ever buy a compilation like this just to hear someone run through a stilted and lifeless version of GUN CLUB or U2, 'kay? If you want to hear those bands, buy their albums, right? Thank you.
THE PEDESTRIANS are a band, as it cleverly notes on their insert. What kind of band it's hard to tell as my CD player rejected their disc almost instantly but they sounded like a heavily overproduced play on the Britpop theme...and then they sounded like a jokey thing cuz the CD started sounding like a record with scratches and skips and all that and then it just dithered away to digital stupidity and I took it out. The disc wouldn't even register on my Phillips CD-R deck so I don't think the quality control was very high. Bad name, though. But I wouldn't have thought that ALICE IN CHAINS would fly, either, so apparently I'm about on par with DAVE WALKER as far as guessing public sentiment...
Under the rubric of "Living Better Through Electricity" SAYHITOLISA have an album that starts slow and builds to some kind of rock'n'roll pinnacle. I'd like to see these Somerville, MA lads live at the Middle East or some other small smoky club around Boston where they could bring their friends to drink a lot. I especially like, lyrically, "Pimpin'"--I understand it perfectly. As a record it seems like something to build on but not a bad start.
ARNOLD HUGO STOLTING asks the musical question "Do You Wanna Make Love Tonight" and I'm thinking that he gets rejected a lot with that phrasing. Impossible to know how successful he gets with the ladies, though, since he sent me a blank fucking Maxell CD-R with no other labeling. Hey, Arnold, this was a pretty stupid-looking package all the way but the "no audio" flashing on the deck tells me that you made a little mistake along the way. But thanks for the jewel case. I just wish that the CD was still recordable....
"Mood Swings" from CAPITOL EYE mines the Limp Bizkit/Kid Rock/wigger territory and is very professional. Ten foot pole stuff, if you follow my drift. Please please please don't ever let me meet these guys cuz they will immediately kick my pale indie ass.
GRNDNTL BRNDS "Communicating For Influence" is very clearly art. I don't like it but I listened to it a helluva lot longer than the last CD. It's not good in any conventional sense of the word but it fits in with something like FRANK ZAPPA's "Freak Out" quite well. For god's sake don't let this band in your head while you're on drugs. I'm not sure where to categorize them but they're less heavy than THE MELVINS and less annoying than FLAMING LIPS. I won't say you should rush out and pay money for this CD but if you happen to see it at a garage sale it's worth a couple quarters and will make you shake your head in awe and amazement. I'm keeping this for some reason.
Awwww, look everybody: it's a black male version of BRITNEY SPEARS!!! There's nothing on this two song disc from JASON RAIZE, "You Win Again", that makes me think that he won't become the next opener for N'SYNC. Brrrrrrrrr.
OK, I missed whatever the tour must have been with all these bands and I'm glad. See my comments about CAPITOL EYE but the bands on "Take A Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute To Rap" are the real deal--white boys playing very very hard at being angry young black males. It doesn't speak to me. But that's just me -- this is the best of the worst and someone out there must like it.
Nicely named, A PLANET FOR TEXAS, wallows around in KILLDOZER country on "You Can Still Rock In America." This would sound right at home on Amphetamine Reptile and I can see them touring with TAD or something but the misogynistic lyrics (song titles include such gems as "Big Dead Girl") and general level of discontent with everything on the face of the earth really leave me cold. I'm not getting a sense of humor here so it's off to the record store with 'em.
EARWIG are much more my cup of tea, a bunch of nice middle-class guys veering between a jangly pop and distorted emo-core. Makes me remember the good old days.....huh? Oh, okay. This band not only doesn't suck but has good lyrics and you'd want to hang out and smoke a bowl with 'em. Sensitive guys. The kind you should date. For a long time. And then break their fragile little hearts so we can get another album like "Perfect Past Tense" which I am keeping.
From the whiskey glass exposed behind the disc to the song titles of loneliness, despair and disillusion, I was hoping for a compatriot to my MARK LANEGAN albums when I put on "Last Chance Lounge" by MICHAEL MCDERMOTT but what I got was a bleaker version of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. Whoops.
Comin' out swinging like Wisconsin's better-tuned answer to THE MEAT PUPPETS, PROUDENTALL are pretty good. Not immediately peggable as any one style but that's not a negative in my book. Maybe a bit of TOOL? But as if being covered by SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE so go figure....much to my anguish, however, the font on the booklet is totally illegible (I'm guessing at the name, too) and blends into the very cool art....I like it. It looks like the album is called "What's Happening Here" and I'm pretty sure the band is proudentall. They play a lot better than the Puppets which, again, is not a negative. Wow. OK. I like this so far. A little pretty in places....like a prettier Tool. I wish I could read the lyrics. The vocals are questionable if they want to crossover onto radio but I'm keeping this one. As a later note on this, it just gets weirder and better all the way through. Definitely interesting.
With shouts out to LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH and GRAND FUNK RAILROAD it's easy to see where PUNY HUMAN are coming from and pretty obvious where this disc ends up tomorrow. "Revenge Is Easy" has a lot of tongue-in-cheek potential but I think not. In a way it reminded me of the first BIG CHIEF album and I had hopes but.....oh well.
They're not at all bad but BLUE OCTOBER remind me too much of a cross between BARE NAKED LADIES and ALANIS MORRISETTE for my comfort. "Consent To Treatment" has some good points but seems a bit pretentious...a bit British. Can't tell where they're from but I suspect CANADA.
The next disc that I see with a card stuffed into it from ARIEL PUBLICITY is going to be thrown in the fucking trash heap immediately and not even given a courtesy savaging. There are more heinous discs from this agency than I can count. Hey, girls, we're looking for all sorts of music here but for the love o' Pete don't send THE STONE COYOTES, a totally competent bar band with the "novelty" angle of having a girl singer/guitarist--"hey, you guys, you gotta come see this band next week 'cuz it's a chick and she really can rock!" Their disc is perfectly well recorded and contains bar band music and that's about the best I can say about it. They've never heard of DEAD MOON and if Fred and Toodie ever saw this band they would wrest away their instruments and blister back the paint on the barroom wall. That's how "chicks" rock.
I'm probably shooting myself in the "how much can I get for these on store credit?" foot and Alex Himself may disagree with me but maybe we could lower the list price of CD's in general if publicity goons would quit sending every last goddamned thing to every major media powerhouse. If every one of the CD's listed above got sent to ROLLING STONE, which I suspect to be the case, they are ALL clogging up the used bins at some record store off Times Square.
Got it? Target your mailing and I bet that the artist might even be able to see a profit on their album someday. What a concept!! See, before I thought of this my mind was made up that the artists just exist so that bookers and club owners and record companies flacks could take home fat salaries and buy that Lexus for the flavor-of-the-month while keeping said artist living in a concrete basement somewhere (it's inspirational!). But now I'm wondering....calling the whole thing into question....wow, I better have a drink and think about this more before I show it to anyone....the bottom line being that sending out stuff that is obviously not ready for prime time to anything other than the TWO LOUIES of your local scene is just begging for a beating. But I promise that my next column will not contain a single word of negativity about any of the bands contained: it's going to be all GOOD THOUGHTS.