Cruel Corner Tells You The Truth About YOUR Shitty Band (Clint Darling)
By: Clint Darling
LIGHTS OVER ROSWELL kick off big thanks to The Big Guy Up There before claiming their manager as their greatest asset. Funny, I thought the biggest asset for their album "Exposed" would be their Ozzy Osbourne action-figure collection. The album sounds like post-talent Ozzy covering latest-tour Gary Numan with the occasional eerily-affected growl thrown in for good measure.
My wife and I could successfully complete every line of bad poetry on MAKAR's gloomy "99? Dreams". Do you lie awake "listening to the rain" or make bad choices due to "lost voices"? Ergh.
The self-titled disc from ILUMINOUS opens with a creepy crawl and held my interest long enough to bore me with the poor drum programming choices and pointless meandering. A moody intro would be great if the song roared in on wheels of steel or snuck up to garrote you with beauty but Iluminous merely produces a bastard child from Lorena McKennitt and a bad hiphop-for-beginners sample disc. Kinda like God-era Tori Amos without the inspiration.
Also in the urban street grrrl vein comes MEG LEE CHIN who seems to be Atari's answer to Gwen Stefanie on "piece and love". Not exactly the innocence of Cibbo Matto but a pretty good stab at humor and sex served up on a distorted slab of computerized rythm. What's the difference between Meg and Iluminous? Maybe talent itself but where Iluminous stagnates, Meg leans out of the speakers and drags you into the song with verve and passion.
I had some trepidation about making fun of LONESOME BOB's "things fall apart" but then I listened to it and it all became much easier. Imagine .38 Special covering post-Dream Syndicate Steve Wynn and you'll have an idea of the ham-fisted sharecropper Americana that the band stumbles through from beginning to end. Redneck and unapologetic.
My idea of a really entertaining TV show would be to pair totally inappropriate bands and force them to play a set for their combined target audience. Lonesome Bob needs to get together with PAMELA WILLIAMS. On "Evolution" she brings Kenny G styled crap to a Nubian Goddess Lite Jazz nightmare. She also looks tough enough to kick Bob's ass and I imagine the result of the two of them together would be like John Tesch In Alabama.
Why do people self-release? Can't they take a hint? Nobody is willing to help you and you think to yourself, "this unremarkable outpouring from my soul really needs to be heard by some reviewer who's going to hate it -- I'll just pay to put it out myself" and away you charge....nope. No. Think again. In this category falls "...so the past shall pass" by TROY with lines like "I never seem to open up the way I really can" and the world would be better off if this had just passed without notice.
I miss the old split single and although the split CD just doesn't seem like the same thing, it at least shows some intelligence. CELL BLOCK 5 and WHITE TRASH DEBUTANTES, to judge from their mutual release on Orange Peal Records, don't have enough audience to justify spending four or five hundred bucks at one of these discount pressing plants so maybe putting both of them together will allow them to sell enough to their friends that they might recoup expenses. The boys of Cell Block 5 veer toward Oi! territory with their straight-ahead formulaic punk and White Trash Debutantes add an X-ish vocal (and poorer mix) but if I weren't paying attention to the track number I wouldn't know the difference. These guys are dynamite in the basement and could probably sell four or five of these at every show to impressed drunks who'll lose the CD in a bush while puking on the way home.
Orange Peal must have a limitless supply of seventeen-year-olds to fill its roster -- here come the SLOPPY MEATEATERS with "Forbidden Meat" and a dose of Green Day envy. These kids are probably too young to remember All (oh, whoops, did they NOT break up yet?) but probably have a 7Seconds sticker on their skateboards. Sloppy Meateaters actually show more promise than both of the more retro groups above -- guitars occasionally do something other than chug or thrash and they have more of a sing-along aesthetic to the songs.
PAT ORTMAN wrote, performed and recorded every sound on his untitled CD and I'll give him some props for being a passable AOR guitar player but high school was a long time ago and nobody is impressed with the fact that he owns a wah pedal anymore. More to the point, his singing voice is awful and his writing is worse. Mixing your voice front and center under those conditions is not a plus. But the guys at the bar think this is hilarious and he picks up a lot of drunk chicks with this shtick at parties.
Trying to categorize AS FRIENDS RUST shouldn't be hard but it I just can't put my finger on it. "Won" sounds like Soul Asylum doing punk rock or an arena rock Black Flag. An opening slot for Faith No More on a summer shed tour might break them to an audience who would stay with them long enough for their writing to catch up with the pyrotechnics.
I've never met anyone who listens to enough bad folk music to want to own "Just Taste It" by BLAIKE. This sucks in ways I can only hint at and leaves me searching for ways to say "predictable and talentless".
BEAVER NELSON nearly suffered a horrible fate when the opening chords of "Undisturbed" mirrored "Just Taste It" which did nothing for my appreciation of his/their sincere hippie folk. Still can't hit a note....the last song on the CD sums it up: "Trash Like This".
LEE SIMMONS "antebellum" came in a nifty plastic jewel case (which I'm keeping) and on a round plastic-y thing, which I'm not. The opening cut was awful which did serve to make the second song, "Mona", sound a bit better until they hit the chorus and started straining to hit the notes. Next.
The industry-standard shopping bag o'CD's in which I took delivery of these platters of gold didn't include a lot of the packaging material so lovingly sealed into the original mailers which is why they always tell you to put your damned band name on the CD itself. Only Sigur Ros gets away without doing that and they've already upped the GNP of Iceland considerably. So there's a whole stack of stuff here that's been tragically seperated from any useful information and I want to drive home again in this space that NOTHING YOU DO MEANS ANYTHING UNLESS I CAN TELL WHO YOU ARE FROM THE CD.
PROJECT MERCURY seems to be a vehicle for MARIAN MASTRORILLI and the advance CD with tracks from the forthcoming CD "Light This Candle" (!) would show it to be a vehicle for her to work at Burger King for a long, long time. If it's Marian singing, she shouldn't. The writing is chick friendly and tries hard to capture the 12-14 year old target audience but if God is good this effort will fail.
HOME TOWN HERO should have been out a long time now and are heading for the 12-14 year old boys who need to thrash around and get some lumps. Kinda Weezer-ish without the talent, the mix suffers from pushing the singers voice out front. It's not their strong suite and they should focus on the testosterone-addled guitars and shout more. It can only help.
The cover art for "Lifeline" by the ATTILA & DAVE PROJECT gave me a pretty accurate idea of the hippy-dippy uplift waiting inside. These guys are good players and the album comes off as coffee house music tripped out with synthesizers, a first-band-on-the-second-stage act for the next H.O.R.D.E. tour. Twirlers unite!
Last but not least for this month is JEFF TROTT whose album "Dig Up The Astroturf" showed up as both a CD and a DVD-A surround version which promptly had me curious. I'm not sure the album lives up to the weight of that kind of expectation but it's not outright bad in a sort of David Gray or Tal Bachman category. There are also some strong Northwest connections that make me think he's a local prodigy so I'll be curious to check him out more closely online.
It's come to my attention this last month that my return to the In Music We Trust airwaves wasn't a completely happy moment for some folks in the international musical community. Folks, I'm a critic and there's plenty to be critical of in the piles and piles of stuff we get every week. But if you're afraid that your CD will be scathed and slandered by me, you might want to consider your choice of career or hobby. If it's going to hurt to be told that you suck in the same old way as many others or in entirely new and amazing ways you need to be working in a different field. But Alex says he has some real records for me -- let's see how those fare, shall we? Until next month -- Ciao!
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