Boiler Room is going to be huge, and that’s the sad part.
As if the world hasn’t been subjected to enough bad music in the last decade, here comes another band destined for MTV’s airwaves.
Can’t Breathe is a perfect example of the terrible state of rock. This album is about as exciting as hearing Vanilla Ice has a new metal band. There is nothing whatsoever that distinguishes this band from Papa Kid Korn Bizkit.
“Generic,” “Interchangeable,” and “Uninspiring” would have been better titles for their songs. They desperately tried to find their own voice, but ended up copying every sound they could. Listening to Can’t Breathe made me wish that I couldn’t breathe, but I choked on just about every lyrical cliche. There’s also enough whining here to make Fran Drescher jealous. Hearing this album makes you want to break stuff, but I don’t think the band’s intention was for me to smash my CD player.
What this band needs to do is listen to their song “Superficial.” It says, “I can’t stand to be just like you.” Before their next album, let’s hope Boiler Room play that song a lot and realize they sound just like everyone else.
Ladies, Women, and Girls
After years of waiting, Bratmobile – Allison, Molly, and Erin – have reformed and are back with a new album,Ladies, Women, and Girls. Yes, they are now ‘ladies,’ but they still maintain their emotional, honest lyrics. The song “Do you like me like that?” is about Allison’s move to Washington, D.C. and the difficulty of transition.
Some songs are slightly too superficial. Lines like “I got an all girl band/I got nails to file/I got a thing for you/I’ll only wait a little while” from “Come Hither” would be cheesy even if sung by an ‘all boy band.’ However, the song “It’s Common (But We Don’t Talk About It)” is reminiscent of the Pottymouth album, with classic one liners such as “I don’t like your boyfriend and I can’t stand you.”
Being one of the original “Riot Grrrl” bands, Bratmobile came on the scene with bands like Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear. Though members have also played in bands such as the Peechees, Cold Cold Hearts and Deep Lust, this incarnation remains their best accomplishment. Bratmobile is a band whose lyrics any girl can relate to and who have inspired many girls to start their own band.
Those lucky enough to hear the first Motorcoat Records compilation, Never Kept A Diary, experienced a shockingly cohesive collection of diverse indie rock. From the exceptional emo of Jenhitt to the subtle beauty of Ida, the CD was exhilarating. Though they didn’t appear on that comp, the Buddyrevelles have been a Motorcoat staple from the beginning. American Matador testifies why.
The Beloit, Wis. trio’s second album is a nearly 50-minute journey with a band coming into their own under the traditional rock setting of guitar, bass and drums. Complete with math rock time changes, “One, Two” gets the album off on the right foot. “At Least Ten Years” recalls Spent, a likely influence on the band.
The music fluctuates between subtlety and intensity and sprawls like a far-stretching highway. The lead singer isn’t blessed with an amazing voice, and the “scary,” low backing vocals tend to annoy, but the songs are strong enough to negate these factors.
The Buddyrevelles are a band to watch.
Camp Kill Yourself
Camp Kill Yourself is a relatively young band, but they have stirred up plenty of controversy in the short time they’ve been around. Hailing from West Chester, Pa., CKY is best known for their spot in Bam Margera’s skate video Toy Machine. Bam’s brother, Jesse, is the lead singer of the band that has been described as Earth Crisis meets Rush.
They are too good to be compared to anyone else. CKY combines a hard sound with sometimes silly and sometimes very serious lyrics. Songs like “Disengage the Simulator” and “Rio Bravo” bring out the serious tendencies of CKY while “Promiscuous Daughter” shows a humorous side. Their humor is sick, but that tends to be the best kind.
CKY sound like they are influenced by the grunge scene as much as they are by Blue Oyster Cult. Throw in a humorous edge that would make G.G. Allin and the Ween brothers piss themselves and you have Camp Kill Yourself. The name says it all.
Death From Above
License to Kill
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to this album is total chaos. Musical ingredients that include far-ranging spheres of the musical spectrum are all included in this sampling from this quintet that features two Temple students, Brian Slough and John Snowden.
License to Kill incorporates influences as far reaching as Bob Marley to Earth Crisis to Operation Ivy. They proclaim to be “ska metal,” but classifying them as this only limits them in their ability to expand musically. With the influx of cookie cutter hardcore and metal bands infiltrating the mainstream, it is a welcome change to see a band expanding the boundaries of both music and genre. There is no one genre to classify this album under.
Songs like “Shattered Image,” “Choking Victim,” and “Fight to Die” make me want to kill an MTV VJ and smoke a big spliff with him at the same time. This is what makes DFA such a great band. They incorporate so many emotions into one album. The only way for bands like this to get off the ground is for people to open their minds to new innovations in music. Mainstream metal/hardcore/ska/punk will never sound the same after you listen to this album.
The California EP
Extended plays (that’s EP, my friend) are a great way for bands to introduce themselves to new listeners or to test-drive new musical directions. I’m a devout supporter of the format. Give me a killer five-songer over a crap 17-track album any day.
Colorado’s Dressy Bessy play happy, sunny songs. The appropriately titled “California” is more of the same catchy, breezy pop as found on last year’s Pink Hearts Yellow Moons. While Dressy Bessy aren’t gonna change the world anytime soon, their sound – think a lo-fi That Dog or a modern Archies – is undeniably likable.
Selected is the new Lilys EP on File-13, a local label headed by Temple’s own Matt Werth. With an illustrious career already intact, this EP features a new backing band (leader Kurt Heasely goes through band members like Kleenex) playing old favorites. “The Any Several Sundays” is a fine re-recording of a 10-year old tune, while “Touch the Water” marks a second, less-stellar stab at the Apples classic. The EP’s highlight is the stunning “Won’t Make You (Sleepy).” If this line-up sticks, the next Lilys album may be its best in years.
“Goodbye,” the first single on both this EP and Silver Scooter’s next album The Blue Law, is a chilling song about leaving everything behind. This version is a bit more 80s synth-infused that the acoustic version bandleader Scott Garred unleashed on a recent Super XX Man (the obligatory, but better than usual, solo thing) tour. The remaining tracks are top-notch 90s-styled indie rock.
“Amateur Actors” fuses the Austin, Texas-based band’s honed indie rock sound with even more late-80s synth. Coincidentally, the EP concludes with a convincing cover of the New Order classic “Run.” One word: “goosebumps.”
Each clocking in at less than 18 minutes, these succinct EPs serve distinct purposes. California is ideal for a pick-me-up, morning shower. Selected is the soundtrack to your next mind-bending experience. Goodbye is more suited for playing while leaving a crappy relationship.
California Grade: B
Selected Grade: B+
Goodbye Grade: A-
Icon of Coil
Serenity is the Devil
After a while, electronic beat music – like most synth-based music – all starts to sound the same. Hence, it takes a lot more for a band in the genre to actually stand out as something fresh.
Icon of Coil’s debut album shows promise in that respect, but doesn’t fully build on the potential they show. “Regret” seems like a knock-off of Scandinavian EBM mainstays Apoptygma Berzerk, and “Everlasting” also has a very typified sound to it. Their choice to close out the disc with four minutes of experimental noodling and noise doesn’t score them points either.
On the other hand, “Down on me” steers clear of the bright dance sound of the genre, giving a mellow, trancy feel. “Situations like These” builds on that idea, with synthesized strings, a minimal beat, and (gasp!) a female vocalist.
“Fiction” branches off further into a harsh sound with a pulsating industrial synth line. From that point, the album has a very angry, :wumpscut:-esque feel.
Although much of Serenity is the Devil is good performances of the same old sound, the sparks of originality give hope that Icon of Coil could evolve into something truly groundbreaking. We’ll see what happens…
Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek
Some may have forgotten about Talib Kweli, who, along with the charismatic Mos Def, was responsible for the critically acclaimed album Black Star.
His solo debut, Reflection Eternal, showcases his lyrical abilities and the production talents of his partner Hi-Tek. Reflection Eternal also allows listeners to step away from the norm and hear that rap music isn’t just about luxury cars, money, drugs and scandalous women.
From the bumpin’ bass heavy grooves of “Move Somethin” to the battle raps of “Down For The Count,” featuring Rah Digga and Xzibit, the album is a pleasure to listen to.
There are a variety of other songs pleasing to the ear. Peep the street tale “Ghetto Afterlife” with Kool G. Rap, the De La Soul combo, “Soul Rebels,” and “Love Language,” with Les Nubians providing the hook in French, in which he discusses the love-hate relationship between men and women. You’ll see how proficient he is in making substantial collaborations.
Talib Kweli could work on laying down a better flow and delivery, but he makes up for his deficiencies with strong lyrical content and the ability to make listeners “stretch” their minds, something a lot of rap artists fail to accomplish today.
Known as one of the most underrated groups in hip-hop, Brooklyn, N.Y. natives M.O.P. (Mash Out Posse) have aggressively rhymed their way towards respect in the mainstream music scene.
Although their latest album, Warriorz, is their fourth release, M.O.P. is generally unknown to outsiders of the world of underground hip-hop. The duo of Billy Danz (a.k.a. William Berkowitz) and Lil’ Fame (a.k.a. Fizzy Womack), while not the most lyrical of emcees, have the ability to convey their raw emotion and aggressive nature in a way that would sound comical if used by other rappers.
For the first time, an M.O.P. album has actually created a buzz, with their first single, “Ante Up,” which has become a street anthem.
Additional production from the likes of the legendary DJ Premier, arguably the best producer in hip-hop today, Warriorz showcases Fame and Danz’s improved lyrical skills. After being unappreciated for so long, this could be the album that finally transforms M.O.P. from consistent underground favorites to mainstream successes.
Velvet Acid Christ
Twisted Thought Generator
The latest offering from Velvet Acid Christ is one of the heaviest releases from Philadelphia-based Metropolis Records since Numb’s 1997 album, Blood Meridian.
Steering away from the overly-prevalent sounds of synthcore and EBM, Twisted Thought Generator recalls the hard hitting yet danceable nature of mid-90s industrial music.
Blasted synths and hard beats on “Dial 8” and “Asphixia” recall COP International bands like Pulse Legion and Under the Noise.
“Never Worship” and the instrumental number “Hypersphere” show influence from label mates X Marks the Pedwalk: expansive and driving synth lines with a speedy tempo.
The album has a sometimes great, sometimes obtrusive use of sampling. When used within a song, as in “Lysergia,” it produces a nice, chilling effect. But too many songs end
with up to half a minute of a speaker, sans instrumental accompaniment, breaking up the flow of the disc.
Those moments, along with drug-reference overkill, are the album’s only failings. If you couldn’t guess from the song titles, Twisted Thought Generator is very drug happy.
Or rather, according to the liner’s mini-essay, it’s a look at “how they can ruin your life.” Whatever the case, the references quickly become stale, detracting from the fantastic
sound of the music.
Velvet Acid Christ w/ Haujobb and Div_Fin. Sun., Dec. 3. , Club Evolution. Call (215) 634-0100 for info.