Record Reviews by Joel

STEREOLAB
Sound Dust
  (Elektra)  2001      
              
            
           
           
      

This band is certainly one of my all time
favorites.  Album after album Iíve been blown away by the musical
innovations of Tim Gane and the French-English vocalizations of
Laetitia Sadier.  Stereoís hip-trip-pop-funk-euro-jazzy-swagger of
late is mature and 30 nothingish.  This latest work ìSound Dustî
is perhaps the bands most lyrical and musically complex (listen to me I
sound like I should be writing for Opera Monthly).  I recently
checked out the band at The Fillmore in San Francisco.  It was a
sold out Monday post- September 11th gig (excuse the clichÈ) and as
usual,the band projected their casual poise.  Iíve heard rumors
that Gane and Sadier bring their baby along with them on tourócould
this be a sign that the lab folks are mellowing out?  Heck no,
they pulled out all the stops with a prolonged Metronomic Underground
encore jam that taught some of the more dysfunctional dancers in the
crowd how to bop.  I often complained to friends that Iíve never
had the chance of seeing Stereolab with a backup horn section, but in
this show Sadier busted out with a trombone and filled in with some
decent riffage.  I could go on for pages about Stereolab, but
honestly, if you donít own ìDots and Loopsî or at leastìEmperor Tomato
Ketchupî or any of their albums, well, your obviously not evolving
properly. (J.A.)


DEAD MOON

Trash and Burn 
(eMpTy)    2001          
              
              
              
      

Youíve gotta love this band.  Theyíve been together
for almost fifteen years and have put out a twelth record.  Fred
Cole, the main man has been in rock bands since the 60ís with Lollipop
Shoppe and The Weeds.  He and his wife Toody have been hiding out
in Clackamas, Oregon after splitting from a contract deal with big
label execs.  They are huge in the Netherlands, Eastern Europe and
Australia and theyíve got an underground following in the U.S. but
their biggest fans live abroad.  Perhaps itís  because their
sound doesnít live up to current recording standards or because
American audiences are too spread out in taste, but Dead Moonís sound
is unapologetic.  In fact like track 3 states the music is just
ìThe Way It Isî.  Fred Coleís raunchy vocals spew passion and the
lyrics posses a medevil poetic style depicting regret, death,
anti-capitlalism and raw love.  The band masters all their
recordings and have absolute freedom of press.  Their sound does
conjure up memories of AC/DC but much less produced.  Do yourself
a favor and check out Hard Wired in Ljublajna (eMpTy, 1998)  for a
good idea of their live show sound which are what they are most
cherished for.  Also, try out this recording, itís vintage Dead
Moon and an experience and a half.–(P.O.Box 12034, Seattle, WA
98102)–JA


QUASI 
The Sword of God  (Touch
and Go)  2001      
              
              
              
      

Portland seems to be the perfect location for a
band.  I say this for two reasons: 1) It must be pretty cheap to
live there (no sales tax whatsoever!) and 2) If you want to tour,
youíve got Portland, Eugene, Eureka in Northern California, San
Francisco, or north instead which includes Seattle, Vancouver and the
Islands.  Of course Portland is not as central as living in Jersey
or New York, but you donít have to put up with the pollution. 
Quasi is a two-person outfit made up of Sam Coomes of Donner Party and
Heatmeiser fame and his one time wife Janet Weiss (drums) from the ever
popular Sleater Kinney avenue band.  These two were once a part of
another outfit titled Motorgoat.  Youíve got to wonder how this
divorced pair work together.  Quasiís central sound is based on a
70ís synthesizer called a Roxichord.  Itís got a great sound but
you canít rely on it so much, I say.  I love some of the tunes on
this album.   ìFuck Hollywoodî  the second track has a
real catchy melody and pop-ee vocals similar to Elliot Smith
offerings.  In ìA Case of No Way Outî  we hear a harmonic
duet by the two that touches upon the concealed side of life with the
advise being ìIf you never taste it you donít know what itís
aboutî.  Iím most enamored of Janetís voice.  Itís subtle and
unwavering.  Overall, the songs on this album are quaint and
pretty and at times lascivious.  Iím not sure if theyíre still
together but they are definitely worth checking out. (P.O. Box 25520
Chicago, IL 60625) –JA


SCARED OF CHAKA

Crossing With Switchblades  (Hopeless) 2001

This is the sixth full length release by that Land of the Lost
reference band.  Hey that reminds me of the opening sequence of
Land of the Lost  that featured a rafting excursion gone awry with
the three main characters (some old guy with an incestuous duo) holding
on for their lives.  Saturday morning cartoons seems so infantile
when you had this classic to look forward to.  And like SOC I too
was afraid of the hairy little guy.   But, unlike little
hairy boys this bands got some hairy wiffle balls.  ìIím Atomic,
Babyî blasts out as the opening tune with a punk rock guitar call and
vocal response pound.  This is followed by a second body stomper
ìwhy are you weirdî –feed back guitar with pop punk energized drum and
vocals. This album would probably sound cooler on vinyl, but you get a
good vinyl quality feel on this CD.  The title song on this album
steps into the rock ballad realm but gets out of it without some lame
ass repetitive chorus.  I dig this band.  They cover The
Zombies ìitís alright with meî on track 11 with distinction.  Iíve
seen pictures of SOC and can honestly conclude that if I had an extra
month or so Iíd drive their van and share some smokes. (P.O. Box 7495,
Van Nuys, CA 91409-7495) -JA

GUITAR WOLF
Jet Generation  (Matador)  1999

Japanese never sounded so French.  Iíve kicked myself in the ass
many times for missing these guys live.   Their albums are so
thrashy and post-decibel that It must drive club owners mad when these
guys roll through.  I donít think ear-plugs would suffice (hope I
didnít offend any of the purists).   In their bio by Matador
the record company claims the album Jet Generation to be the loudest
record ever recorded.  Thatís impressive, but not as impressive as
playing the loudest album at the highest level possible my stereo can
tolerate. Iíve also been told that the only true musicians in this band
are Seiji and Toru who have only been playing a few years?  Well
Iíll add that all three of these guys rock, musician or no
musician.  Theyíve got rock n roll attitude and thatís two-thirds
of the stuff you want. They must spend a pretty penny on their leather
and hair grease to attain that Johnny Thunder-Elvis offspring
look.  (625 Broadway NYC 10012) -JA

Guitar Romantic
The Exploding Hearts (Dirtnap Records) 2003

Youíll find nothing new here.   No massive bombing
campaign.  No blood dripping heartache massage pyrotechnic
rock.  No forced harmonies, hour-long guitar riffs or senseless
drum fills.  The Exploding Hearts give you good home cooking
hop-bopping rock (a sort of beef stew or beer batter meat loaf
concoction with no side dish). Sure you could make endless comparisons
to the Jam, New York Dolls, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, and even Adam
Ant, but thatís not fair to them or to you, the consumer, the listener,
the discerning audiophile, the neo-bourgeoisie bike messenger
types.  No sir, this bandís got pop.  My favorite track is
ìSleeping Aides & Razorbladesî because I can dance to it.  I
like dancing when nobodyís home.  Itís been a while since Iíve had
that feeling.  These guys must make their music in some garage or
Winnebago in Portland, Oregon but if you happened to find yourself
stumbling past their practice space you might be transported back to
the curb in front of CBGBíS circa 1977.  —NOTE:  This
review was written before the tragic van crash tha claimed the lives of
three band members RIP. (PO Box 21249, Seattle, WA 98111)-JA

Junction 18
Heroes From The Future EP
(Fearless Records) 2003

An EP from Fearless with great harmonies on the borderline between pop
punk and a more progressive/alternative sound referred to in some
circles as melodicore.  Here youíll find traces of Elvis
Costello,  Bad Religion and Unwritten Law.  They hail From
Boston and do most of their touring on the east coast and Canada. 
Theyíve been together since 1996.  Their first Record ìThis
Vicious Cycleî won them much critical acclaim and praise.  With
ìHeroes From The Futureî you get the feeling that these guys are not
your ordinary pop-punk crew that get followed around by young skate
boarders and runaways.  Their lyrics are beyond ìbubblegumî and
ìgirlfriendsî and venture into the realm of the ethereal and
philosophical:  ìThereíd be an angel high above you but you
smashed him long agoî Or take for example some from ìFlooding Up the
Deep Endî: ìGood evening I just turned 63 Believe me itís never what it
seemsî.  What does all this self-reflection and old age crap
mean?  Donít worry ladies, these boys are not old and thereís a
lot of verbiage in this album that calls out to you and your breaking
heart.  Not only that, Junction 18ís got a great sound. 
Thereís nothing gratuitous about Junction 18.  In fact, their song
writing is genuine and their sound is well aged and tight.  I
wouldnít normally subscribe to a band like this, but Iíve got to admit,
I have a new respect for this brand of punk. (13772 Goldenwest Street
#545 Westminster, CA 92683)-JA

Guff
The Guff is a Disaster EP (Go-Kart Records) 2003

Young men from Athens Georgia, rock on!  Guff should change their
name to Huff or Puff because they seem to have no luck with their van
as is apparent from the booklet art and from their fan page. 
Theyíve had to cancel tours a bunch of times as a result, but they are
certainly hard working rockers who just canít seem to put enough
together to buy a reliable vehicle.  But thatís how it goes when
youíre young, punk and Indy.  Life is hard especially when you
rely on living from show to show.  These guys have been forced by
necessity to work in a laundry room once and even submit their bodies
to a medical research project in Austin just to fix their van!  So
if you see these guys coming down the road after a hard night of
rocking, wonít you please offer them a place to stay, some warm soup
and a hug! The angst in their songs and playing is so thick you wonder
what they do to relax?  Itís like the Clash on too much
Mocha.  The songs are fast and jugular and would make a great
soundtrack for a breakup or a Haight Street revolution. (PO Box 20 NYC
10012)-JA