lunes, 29 de marzo de 2010

The Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen (1993)

The Afghan Whigs' sound was growing larger by the release during the days on Sub Pop, so the fact that Gentlemen turned out the way it did wasn't all that surprising as a result ("cinematic" was certainly the word the band was aiming for, what with credits describing the recording process as being "shot on location" at Ardent Studios). While Gentlemen is no monolith, it is very much of a piece at the start. While "If I Were Going" opens things on a slightly moodier tip, it's the crunch of "Gentlemen," "Be Sweet," and "Debonair" that really stands out, each of which features a tightly wound R&B punch that rocks out as much as it grooves, if not more so. Greg Dulli's lyrics immediately set about the task of emotional self-evisceration at the same time, with lines like "Ladies, let me tell you about myself -- I got a dick for a brain" being among the calmer points. The album truly comes into its own with "When We Two Parted," though, as sad countryish guitars chime over a slow crawling rhythm and Dulli's quiet-then-anguished detailing of an exploding relationship. From there on in, things surge from strength to greater strength, sometimes due to the subtlest of touches -- the string arrangement on "Fountain and Fairfax" or the unexpected, resigned lead vocal from Scrawl's Marcy Mays on "My Curse," for instance. Other times, it's all the much more upfront, as "What Jail Is Like," with its heartbroken-and-fierce combination of piano, feedback, and drive building to an explosive chorus. Dulli's blend of utter abnegation and masculine swagger may be a crutch, but when everything connects, as it does more often than not on Gentlemen, both he and his band are unstoppable. Source: [AMG]

The Afghan Whigs - Debonair

Track Listing
1. If I Were Going
2. Gentlemen
3. Be Sweet
4. Debonair
5. When We Two Parted
6. Fountain and Fairfax
7. What Jail Is Like
8. My Curse
9. Now You Know
10. I Keep Coming Back
11. Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer


domingo, 21 de marzo de 2010

Body Count - Body Count (1992)

Divorced from the controversy that surrounded its release, Body Count's self-titled debut is a surprisingly tepid affair. Apart from the previously released "Body Count" (which appeared on Ice-T's 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster), the record is devoid of serious commentary, trading intelligence for a lurid comic book depiction of sex, violence, and "Voodoo." All of Ice-T's half-sung/half-shouted lyrics fall far short of the standard he established on his hip-hop albums. The controversial "Cop Killer" -- which is nothing more than a standard thrash metal chant -- stands out because it is one of the few tracks that doesn't rely on garish, cartoonish imagery. There's the saga of "Evil Dick," which tells Ice-T not to "sleep alone." There's "KKK Bitch," where he crashes a Ku Klux Klan meeting and screws the grand dragon's daughter. There's "Voodoo," where a witch doctor cripples our hero with a voodoo doll. There's "Mama's Gotta Die Tonight," where Ice-T offs his mother cause she's a racist. By the time the band works around to the power ballad "The Winner Loses" and Ice-T is crooning "My friend's addicted to cocaine," it's unclear whether the record is a parody or a horribly flawed stab at arena metal. It would help if the band wrote riffs that were memorable or if they conveyed a sense of kinetic energy instead of tossing out their riffs in a workmen-like fashion. Perhaps Body Count was intentionally humorous -- although the group's follow-up, Born Dead, suggests that it wasn't -- but in any case, the record was simply embarrassing. After "Cop Killer" was pulled from the album, it was replaced with a bland version of Ice-T's rap classic "The Iceberg" recorded with Jello Biafra. Source: [AMG]

Body Count - Cop Killer

Track Listing
1. Smoked Pork
2. Body Count's in the House
3. Now Sports
4. Body Count
5. A Statistic
6. Bowels of the Devil
7. The Real Problem
8. KKK Bitch
9. C Note
10. Voodoo
11. The Winner Loses
12. There Goes the Neighborhood
13. Oprah
14. Evil Dick
15. Body Count Anthem
16. Momma's Gotta Die Tonight
17. Ice-T/Freedom of Speech


sábado, 6 de marzo de 2010

Redd Kross - Show World (1997)

Kicking off with an exuberant version of the L.A. power pop-classic-that-almost-wasn't, "Pretty Please Me" -- and unsurprisingly Steve and Jeff McDonald and company rock the bastard to the ground with a smile this time around -- Show World is yet more fun from a band who dedicates themselves to a smart good time. In ways, Redd Kross had found history catching up to them by this time -- any number of bands had stumbled across the loud and brash- '70s pop-punk approach that was the group's raison de etre. But the fact that they hadn't gotten the attention they deserved for it didn't keep them from still going at it with gusto; Bless their hearts. If songs like "You Lied Again" and "Vanity Mirror" didn't introduce any curveballs to the basic sound, they still sounded pretty damn fantastic, singalong energy overdriven up to ten and beyond. Slightly slower tracks like "Girl God," the mega-orchestrated ballad "Secret Life," and the handclap crazy "Follow the Leader" showcase the band's calmer side well enough -- again, no surprises, but none were expected or needed. Best song title of the bunch this time around: "One Chord Progression," which lives up to its name just so. "Teen Competition" lets them cock rock out with the best of them, but doesn't forget the sugar in the chorus even as the distortion completely screws with the mix at one point, while "Get Out of Myself" has one brilliant moment with so much hyper-flange that why the speakers don't melt upon contact is a mystery. Source: [AMG]

Redd Kross - Mess Around

Track Listing
1. Pretty Please Me
2. Stoned
3. You Lied Again
4. Girl God
5. Mess Around
6. One Chord Progression
7. Teen Competition
8. Follow the Leader
9. Vanity Mirror
10. Secret Life
11. Ugly Town
12. Get Out of Myself
13. Kiss the Goat


lunes, 1 de marzo de 2010

Superchunk - No Pocky For Kitty (1991)

Where Superchunk's self-titled debut otherwise failed to live up to the brilliance of its anti-anthem centerpiece "Slack Motherfucker," the follow-up No Pocky for Kitty is a complete and fully realized statement of purpose -- opening with the dizzying "Skip Steps 1 & 3," the disc never lets up for a second, crackling with an energy and breathless abandon that underlines the sheer exuberance at the heart of even Mac McCaughan's most superficially bitter songs. Although No Pocky for Kitty successfully channels the sound and spirit of punk's heyday, for all their whiplash guitars and spitfire rhythms Superchunk's songs derive their power not from nihilism and ennui but from optimism and passion -- implicit in McCaughan's lyrics is a belief in creation over destruction, hope over cynicism, and love over hate. Credit too Steve Albini's no-frills recording for the live-wire snap and crackle of standouts like "Seed Toss," "Punch Me Harder," and "Throwing Things" -- for all its earthy simplicity and everyman conviction, No Pocky for Kitty positively soars. Source: [AMG]

Superchunk - Cast Iron

Track Listing
1. Skip Steps 1 & 3
2. Seed Toss
3. Cast Iron
4. Tower
5. Punch Me Harder
6. Sprung a Leak
7. 30 Xtra
8. Tie a Rope to the Back of the Bus
9. Press
10. Sidewalk
11. Creek
12. Throwing Things