Sticky Fingaz Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones (Universal) If there was anyone from Onyx, one of the more influential rap groups of the early 90s, who could go solo, most would agree it

Sticky Fingaz
Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones

If there was anyone from Onyx, one of the more influential rap groups of the early 90s, who could go solo, most would agree it was Sticky Fingaz. Black Trash reaffirms those who felt this way.

The hyperactive, raspy voiced rhyme slinger reveals his broad imagination, creativity and multiple personalities throughout. “Man’s Best Friend” deals with his unique relationship with a gun. On “Money Talks,” Sticky compares himself to money, he’s “what no one can live without and everyone chases after”. “Girl Cheatin” and “Sister I’m Sorry” explain why he can hate women one minute and love them the next.

But the most compelling track, “State Versus Kirk Jones” is a court date where Canibus and Redman attempt to defend Sticky from being accused of murder in an armed robbery attempt. Presiding is Judge Rah Digga. The only bad part of this song is Sticky loses the trial and is sent to jail.

The one major weakness of Black Trash is the skits (count em, 15), which may wane on listeners. Nonetheless, Sticky Fingaz’ solo debut is a good one, displaying two elements lacking in hip-hop today: creativity and originality.

Grade: B+
-Omar Branch
_______________________________________________________________ Jello Biafra
Become the Media
Alternative Tentacles

Philadelphia-area Nader Traitors (that’s a compliment) have a special incentive to purchase Become the Media, the sixth spoken-word album by the former Dead Kennedy’s singer, San Francisco mayoral candidate and Green Party presidential nominee.
In “Philadelphia Stories,” recorded live at 4040 during the Republican convention, Biafra not only ridicules the heinous Chinatown Stadium plan (a real possibility at the time), but also does a hilarious imitation of Herschel of local rock demagogues the Interpreters defending his decision to perform in front of 40,000 Republicans. (“Exposure! Expooooosure!”)
Become the Media is three CDs’ worth of Biafra speaking at the Seattle and Washington D.C. WTO protests, the Philadelphia and Los Angeles political conventions, etc. While there is a limit to the number of listens even the best spoken-word material can hold up to (Lenny Bruce excepted), this is unquestionably a document of historical value, a firsthand chronicle of Year One of the Great Consumer Revolt.

Grade: A
Joel Tannenbaum
Mark Kozelek
Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer

Lost in record label liquidation (see: Seagram are a frighteningly powerful institution capable of evils beyond human comprehension), Red House Painters’ last record, Old Ramon, remains unreleased to this day. Itching to get material out, Painters’ singer Mark Kozelek delivers Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer, his first solo mini-album.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer seems almost like the missing link between RHP’s Shock Me EP and Songs for a Blue Guitar. More than half covers, Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer features beautiful renditions of three AC/DC songs (the rocking title track and “You Ain’t Got a Hold On Me” fare better than the lackadaisical “Bad Boy Boogie”) and a beautiful John Denver tune called “Around and Around.”
If Kozelek’s recent acting debut as Stillwater’s bassist in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous proved one thing, it’s that his ability to capture sepia-tone pictures about painful life tragedies in song, as on “Find Me, Ruben Olivares,” is an art far superior to looking stoned on a tour bus.

Grade: A-
-Neal Ramirez
Lenny Kravitz
Greatest Hits

Seeming at first to be a premature collection from the retro poster boy, Greatest Hits is a testament to how many tight compositions Lenny Kravitz has delivered in such a short amount of time.

Greatest Hits is full of straight-ahead hard rock and pop balladry, lyrical yearnings and deep personal introspection.

From the funk sounds of “Always on the Run” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” to the heart wrenching and confessional “Stand By My Woman,” Kravitz never falters from his groove.

On the unreleased, “Again,” a relatively new song left over from the 5 sessions, Kravitz once again bares his soul and lays his emotions out, pining for an improbable relationship where the only sense is to make it last forever.

If anything, “Again” proves that Kravitz still has that touch where he makes something old something new, borrowing from the 70s and making them his blues.

Grade: A+
-Michael Christopher
The Quiet Vibration Land
(Amazing Grease)

Neal: Dude, Joel, so there’s this band from San Francisco called Oranger. Never heard of ’em, but their CD just came in the mail and I thought you might like to discuss it with me. What do you say?

Joel: Well, ok I guess. Can I sell the CD at CD’s To Go when we’re done?

N: Wow, I’m glad you’re so excited about co-reviewing it with me. Okay, here we go. Whoa, this first song is really weird. I feel like I’m in some 70s-themed submarine where the soul of early Aerosmith lives on.

J: Really? Earlier, I felt like I was trapped in the opening credits to the Wonder Years. Geez…These guys need to put a choke chain on their guitar player. This tune’s a little better though.
N: I’m kind of hearing some Sloan mixed with Beulah on “Suddenly Upsidedown.” It’s weird because something tells me I’d never listen to this band but I really want to like them.

J: I think you’re being a little too generous. Remember Enuff Z’nuff?

N: Not really, but I like where this is going. On “Falling Stars” I hear some dreamy bits of Apples in Stereo in there. I’m a bit of a sucker for indie bands attempting different styles and no matter how hard they try coming out sounding like another indie band. One could argue Oranger is proficient, yet clueless.

J: I don’t think there is anything inherently indie about Oranger. I think this is the ESPN Jock Jams answer to the Lilys. I respect this for not being generic guitar rock, but I maintain that the current psychedelic revival as brought to you by Elephant 6 Recording Co. is going to end in tears.

N: Who’s tears though? Maybe you would like them if their name utilized a fruit more suited to your taste palate like Outrageous Cherry or the Figgs? Who knows? I do hear some second rate, “untucked shirt” Lilys in here, but a little grime with the glitz can’t hurt. One thing that I will say is that some of these songs are just pointless and meandering. Why can’t there be a 10 song per album rule? Am I being a fascist?

J: Outrageous Cherry is different. Music is just something for them to do when the bowling alley is closed. They are the true rock martyrs, not Brian Jones.

N: I cannot contest that point. All I can say is that Oranger is a band people might want to check out if their tastes fall under the “indie rock” umbrella. It’s obviously never going to sell as many copies as the last Pavement record. Perhaps we should have compared The Quiet Vibration Land to Terror Twilight? I must admit I like comparing things…

J: Sure, whatever Neal. All I know is that the singer just rhymed “feeling halfway dead” with “visions in your head.” What are we, in a 10th grade creative writing class?

N: Okay, well time to wrap it up. How about we grade the album on its unlisted bonus track and average the grade?

J: Splendid.

Grade: B+
-Neal Ramirez and Joel Tannenbaum
Paranoid Landscape
Dakota Suite
Signal Hill

From the Badman recording label come two somber acts with seemingly opposite messages. Subzone is an instrumental, beat-driven group that sound like potential energy personified. They have some interesting hooks and ideas but the ideas don’t really go anywhere, they just go around in circles – slow, frustrating circles. While listening to this album, I constantly pricked up my ears at the sign of a change in tempo or rhythm only to sigh when realizing it wasn’t to be.

While Subzone dig themselves into an hour-long ditch, Dakota Suite do their best to rise above. Main songwriter Chris Hooson wrote these songs after a bout with depression and tunes such as “Close Enough to Tears” and the title song discuss how he recovered. His songs have simple messages like in the last song, “When Skies are Grey,” a tribute to the Everton Football Club fanzine. All the songs on Signal Hill are slow but Hooson’s sweet singing voice, acoustic-driven compositions, and comforting lyrics make the album a unique listen.

For information on these acts go to

Paranoid Landscape Grade: F
Signal Hill Grade: B-
-Maureen Walsh
Tidewater Grain
Here on the Outside
(Ruffnation/Warner Bros.)

Philly-based Tidewater Grain’s first major label release, Here on the Outside, comes off as your standard, type-A, commercial radio-friendly rock. Although the band’s music can be placed in a multitude of musical categories ranging from “classic rock” to “alternative,” there is nothing strikingly original about their sound.

Tidewater Grain offers some nice guitar work, featuring not one, but two guitarists – quite a novelty in this day and age of the rock genre relying heavily upon a more synthesized and sampled sound. There are some nice harmonies and a few good tunes such as the catchy title track and “One Man Show,” a mid-tempo lament which showcases the band’s better qualities nicely.

On the downside, Tidewater Grain’s vocalist and primary lyricist, Kevin McNamara, is somewhat limited in his vocal range and songwriting abilities. At times McNamara’s voice borders on whiny and at others is fairly monotone, scrambling to make some of the harder-to-reach notes. It is this quality which does little to differentiate Tidewater Grain from the current batch of pseudo-pop/rock sharing the airwaves alongside the rap-metal trend.

Grade: C+
-Lana Cooper
Wesley Willis
Rush Hour
(Alternative Tentacles)

He really rocks the house.
With a new album, you can’t go wrong.
He has shown me happiness,
And made me laugh with his songs.
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
He really whips a horse’s ass.
He is going to beat me with a 2 x 4.
He rocked this motherfucker apart,
As I fell to the floor.
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Rock over London, rock on Chicago
Wesley Willis, he’s what’s for dinner
He whipped Batman’s ass.
His records are a lot of fun.
Buy his album now.
There can be only one.
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
The voices in his head
Help him with the songs he’s sung.
He obsesses about Pontiac
And is going to shoot me with his BB gun.
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Rock over London, rock on Chicago
For all you do, this Wesley is for you.
He’ll knock your block off.
Fuck with him and find out.
He is a rock; he is a roll,
And a schizophrenic, no doubt.
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Wesley Willis, Wesley Willis
Rock over London, rock on Chicago
Wesley Willis, he’s the breakfast of champions.

Grade: B+
-Steve Mowatt
Shanti Project Collection 2

The Shanti Project “is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life, improving the well-being, and promoting the independence primarily of people living with HIV disease and AIDS.” Badman Recording Co. donated a portion of the proceeds from its first compilation with artists like Red House Painters, Low and Idaho to aid this noble project.

In the fine tradition of compilation sequels that actually come out, this second volume features all female artists – the suitable yin to the first CD’s yang.

The best tracks come from Low’s Mimi Parker, Edith Frost and the too-depressing-but-somehow-still-stunning Julie Doiron. On the downside, solo Kristin Hersh doesn’t do justice to her Throwing Muses days and a couple of songs from ex-Spinanes singer Rebecca Gates are too ethereal for their own good.

While not earth shattering, Shanti Project Collection 2 is a great idea for a great cause. If you own at least one Patti Smith album, you might want to check this out. Oh and congratulations Badman. You have been nominated for the “new 4AD” award. Just keep up the good work…

Grade: B
-Neal Ramirez
Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors

On Stoned Immaculate, the eternally in-the-works Doors tribute, acts both old and new try to channel the spirit of the dark 60s band and find a little bit of Lizard King in themselves.

Most surprising is the number of young acts who show up the music veterans. Artists Oleander (“Hello I Love You”), Train (“Light My Fire”) and Creed (“Riders on the Storm”) manage to stay true to the original feel of each song while deftly infusing their own respective styles into the mix.

On the other hand, aging rockers Aerosmith fall flat with “Love Me Two Times,” a cover that used to be a highlight of their live shows. A ridiculous John Lee Hooker duet with a Jim Morrison vocal track on “Roadhouse Blues” has the elder bluesman as if he’s singing along with a song he has heard only once or twice on the radio. Bo Diddley reveals that Bo don’t know Mr. Mojo as he ruins “Love Her Madly” with terribly cheesy backing vocals that ends up with a perhaps unintended gospel choir-like feel.

The Cult provide two major highlights: a scathing version of “Wild Child,” and lead singer Ian Astbury aided by the surviving members of The Doors on “Touch Me.”

The Doors appear on each cover in some form or another, never becoming overbearing only making their presence felt slightly.

The two standouts on Stoned Immaculate fall completely upon The Doors themselves. “Under Waterfall” and “The Cosmic Movie” aren’t so much new Doors songs as they are familiar riffs and pieces of older ones looped over and over under a Morrison rant. The remarkably modern sounding result is nothing short of astounding, effectively making this a tribute to their own vernacular and historical importance.

Grade: B
-Michael Christopher

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.