Record Reviews

Hello Bastards
Jade Tree Records
2310 Kennwynn Road Wilmington DE 19810
Lifetime came out of the 1990 New Jersey straight-edge scene, "with the intent of creating the perfect blend of melody and aggression," as the liner notes to last year's Tinnitus 7" indicate. In the beginning, they sounded like post-Judge hardcore with singy vocals and emotional lyrics. As their records have grown steadily more melodic, they've evolved into something more like pop-punk with mosh parts. I didn't expect anything could successfully follow up such an amazing record as Tinnitus, but damn was I surprised. This, their second LP, is their poppiest yet, so much so that some songs even resemble Screeching Weasel until the drummer goes into manic flailing hardcore mode, the tempo quadruples and your body starts to pogo around the room entirely of its own accord (Rodeo Clown). Other songs tend towards the crunchy-guitar, midtempo emo that has become popular in the wake of Lifetime, Endpoint, and Split Lip. Still others keep the energy level high with frantically fast slamming rhythms and melodic breakdown choruses. The only part that bugs me is the short length 23 minutes (for twelve songs!). Otherwise, gorgeous packaging and great music add up to an essential record. -fourfa

Le Feu du Tigre
Cuneiform Records
PO Box 8427 Silver Spring MD 20907-8427
A cello-clarinet-drums trio who play highly melodic and rhythmically complex tunes. Yes, this is French prog rock. The drummer was in the amazing Etron Fou Leloublan (rough translation: The Mad Elusive Sheep Shit) and his presence lends a bit of that band's silly and obscure sense of humor. Other features include Tom Cora-like idiosyncratic cello playing, clarinet lines ranging from light folk melodies to skronkier improv stuff, and occasional preachy and almost painfully French-accented rants. Also an excellent cover of Skeleton Crew's Coca Cola. This is very intentional, careful music that manages to maintain an air of playfulness throughout. -Kitty.

The Tiki Men
Twelve Dusty Diamonds
Hillsdale Records
PO Box 641592 San Francisco CA 94164
The Tiki Men's Twelve Dusty Diamonds chronicles the dark, dirty, raw adventures of a wave-loving surfer stranded in the desert. Armed with only some beer and a guitar, his journey is all about finding meaning in a waterless world.

Well, maybe I listened to it too many times, too late at night. Either way, this is one hella fine album of instrumental surf music. The Tiki Men combine undeniably catchy hooks with rough lo-fi production in an album which varies in mood and intensity, taking you from irreverent excitement to loneliness and despair, and back again. As the title suggests, this is a musical diamond in the rough- check it out.

-Lizzie Boredom

Jim Infantino
The World of Particulars...
Gadfly Records
PO Box 5231 Burlington VT 05402
Singer-Songwriter from Boston. Urban folk may be the best description, but does it really matter? Not when you have a collection of such wonderful, lovely, cranky, introspective, self-mocking, catchy songs. The first track, "Shoebox Bird" is easily one of my top 5 songs of the year. It's an ironic, self-pitying song about how he has to save his girlfriend from herself and the possible fatal mistakes she might commit daily. He ends by telling us about the wounded birds he would take home in a shoebox and try to nurse back to health. The album is full of very different tracks that all work, including the manic and hilarious live track "Addicted to Stress" and the lulling title track that Dar Williams sings back-up on. This is the stuff. This is what I wait for; smart, poetic lyrics and a collection of songs that sound decidedly unique. -Kara Whacked

Appeal to Human Greed
Big Cat Records
PO Box 2020 New York NY 10013
Five remixes of tracks from the Anatomy of Addiction album. If you're not familiar with God, they are a loose supergroup currently including Justin Broadrick (Napalm Death, Godflesh, Final, Techno Animal), Kevin Martin (Ice, 16-17, Techno Animal), Tim Hodgkinson (Henry Cow, The Work) and Alex Buess (16-17, Ice), among others, that use noisy sax and clarinet mixed with droning guitar and bass to create all sorts of industrial and prog that is sometimes as ambient as it is aggressive. In general, the remixes tone down the aggressive nature of the original tracks. Gold Teeth, remixed by Lumberjacks, is the most changed by taking out the guitar, bringing the snarled vocals to the front, and adding a laid-back hip-hop beat. Bill Laswell does his token job to Bloodstream mellowing it out and drowning everything in bass reverb. On All Fours is perhaps the least changed from the original as Justin Broadrick keeps the original herky-jerky structure and gives the guitar sound more of an edge. Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) does a remix of Tunnel. Quite an amazing EP. -Chanel

Swing Kids
Justin Pearson
PO Box 178202 San Diego CA 92177-8202
Wow! One of the best hardcore 7"s I've come across in a long time. Formed of most of Struggle and a guitarist from Unbroken, Swing Kids leave us with only this to remember their short existence. Raging guitar thrash reminiscent of Econochrist, vocals and tempos like End of the Line. My favorite song, Disease, (a better-recorded version than on the Food Not Bombs benefit LP) starts off with upbeat bebop jazz, seamlessly blending into fast screaming hardcore, if you can believe that. Trust me, it works and it's amazing. The Joy Division cover, Warsaw, is great too.


Cesaria Evora
Cesaria Evora
Nonesuch Records
75 Rockefeller Plaza New York NY 10019
One of the main reasons I hang out at KZSU is to listen and learn about music. Every now and then I listen to a record and am captivated straight off the bat. Cape Verde's Cesaria Evora's new release is such an album. If you are a fan of Brazilian music, you'll love it, too. She sings in Portuguese and the music is reminiscent of Choro and Bossa Nova.

Evora has a rich melancholy voice with a rough edge that comes with age. Her singing has a bittersweet quality to it. Even if you don't understand the language, her sincerity will make you believe every word she sings; be it sad or upbeat, about every day life, or a political statement. -Ofer

Malformed Earthborn
Defiance of the Ugly by
the Merely Repulsive
Relapse Records
PO Box 251 Millersville PA 17551
You might think that a side project made up of Shane Embury (Napalm Death), Danny Lilker (Brutal Truth, Exit 13), and Scott Lewis (Brutal Truth) would put out some pretty aggressive grind, but Malformed Earthborn is far from that. Industrial-style loops and samples are the basis of the music with dancebeats, Godflesh-style guitar, and extremely distorted vocals appearing on various tracks. Some of the tracks (De Vermix Mysteriis, Cross of Victims) even remind me of Ghost-era Techno-Animal, as repetitious sounds that evolve slowly. By far, my favorite is Nailed Savior which has an extremely catchy metallic schwooshing sound in the midst of dancebeats and distorted vocals. Intoxicating Touch of Freedom sounds exactly like a cross between Dead World and Godflesh as it shares the "this will hurt someone" sample from the Dead World track of that name and the trademark Godflesh guitar sound. If you like lots of repetitious structures, this album is quite enjoyable. -Chanel

Earth Crisis
Destroy the Machines
Victory Records
PO Box 146546 Chicago IL 60614
Earth Crisis made their reputation combining brutal metallic hardcore with extremely controversial, intolerant lyrics. Consider these gems from past records by these vegan straight-edge eco-warriors: "For the fetus, for the rat, for the cow, for the rat/ For innocent victims we will attack, we will attack" and "Poisoned tears fall from a corroding sky to a tortured earth... to end the enslavement and slaughter the antidote is veganism." This, their first full-length, is no less extreme: "Reject the anthropocentric falsehood that maintains the oppressive hiearchy of mankind over the animals," and my favorite, "Severed locks, doors wrenched from hinges... vivisectionists dragged into the street and shot as flames engulf the laboratory." Yikes. The thing is, like their past two 7<=s, the music is awesome. I heard they listened to nothing but Carcass before recording this LP, and it shows. It is metal. But metal in a good way- fucking powerful guitars, lots of double bass action, loads of heavy mosh and low-E chunk, and (thankfully) no guitar solos. And they've retained enough hardcore punk to be palatable to the political scenesters that might take their lyrics seriously. If you can look past the ridiculous lyrics, you'll find an enjoyable and extremely powerful record. -fourfa

It Came From Memphis
Upstart Sounds
PO Box 44-1418 West Somerville MA 02144
Robert Gordon put together this amazingly varied companion CD to his book of the same name, which celebrates the unsung heroes of the Memphis music scene. The compilation includes everything from snippets of radio shows by the legendary 1950s DJ Dewey Phillips to an ethereal synthesized composition by William Eggleston. In between, you get fine specimens of blues by the likes of Furry Lewis and Jessie Mae Hemphill, the good-time garage holler of Flash and the Memphis Casuals, punk scree courtesy of Drive Inn Danny, two songs about drunkenness, and liner notes that will not fail to educate and amuse you. With something for all tastes, the album is as essential as the book that preceded it. -Trixie

Flying Nuns
Matador Records
676 Broadway New York NY 10012
If you like Superchunk, Pavement or Archers of Loaf, then be sure to check out the Flying Nuns. This three-member band rocks on this five-song EP. Bass, guitar and drums all kick into high gear on the opening song Submarine. All songs have hooks that bring you in and make your head bop up and down.

I think it's the interchange between the thumping beats and classic jangle guitar that keeps me interested. Frank, the second song has a thick heavy bass sound, while Shades is more of an all out rock feast. Shades is my personal favorite because you can hear the torment in Kevin Sweeney's voice (lead vocalist). "I'm just filled with hate," he sings over top of a thick-sounding Archers type of song.

Carousel of Freaks, the fourth song starts slower and builds nicely into a great pulsing song. The final song, Life On The Ground is a mid-paced song with good, thumping drums. "It's so nice to get along" sings Kevin on this, a great way to end a wonderful EP.

-Scotty M.

Rock Head

Mick Harvey
Intoxicated Man
Mute Records
140 West 22nd St New York NY 10011
Mick Harvey, guitarist for The Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds, and Crime & The City Solution, has undertaken a one-man tribute album to Serge Gainsbourg. Harvey and his collaborators have rewritten in English the lyrics to several of Gainsbourg's French hits so that Anglophones can get some of that patented Gainsbourg lechery, perversity, and American iconography which we've been missing all these years. Certainly it's unfair to sum up Gainsbourg's long career in music with one example, but it was obviously the provocateur in Gainsbourg which led him to write and record with his daughter a song titled Lemon Incest. Unfortunately, young Charlotte's voice was quite wretched, detracting from the black humor inherent in the song's lyrics and poppy arrangement. Harvey has chosen to strip down that song to a slow and quiet affair, eliminating the female vocals completely, so that the song is now wistful, rather than leering or dangerous. No matter, though. On other tracks, Harvey and chanteuse Anita Lane have stuck more closely to the originals, with particularly beautiful results on the ode to America's most romantic gangsters, Bonnie And Clyde. Harvey's deft feel for what to redo and what to leave alone yields excellent results. And his voice ain't half bad either. -Gabe

The Bats
Mammoth Records
Carr Mill 2nd Floor Carrboro NC 27510
One of New Zealand's finest bands are back with an excellent indie, well almost indie (Mammoth Records), pop record. It's been a few years since we've been blessed with the Bats trademark jangle guitar sound. Couchmaster has them returning to their traditional big hook, upbeat sound on songs such as Afternoon in Bed and Land O Lakes.

Most of this effort is spent on light pop ballads like Around You Like Snow or ShoeShine, which will have you tapping your feet as they plow along with lead guitar getting the preference and a standard rock beat keeping the pace. My personal favorites are Chain Home Low and Knowledge is Power. Chain Home Low is a great campy song with bits of violin effects and French horn blending nicely with the guitars. On Knowledge is Power, the Bats get bold and say "Damn" a few times. It's a fun song filled with excellent, intelligent lyrics. Overall this effort is a welcome return.

Another interesting song is Smorgasboard, which sounds like a Smiths song. You expect to hear Morrissey chime in at any moment, but it turns out to be a short instrumental. If you like safe, light pop music with intelligent, well thought out substance, then this is the record for you. Couchmaster has 17 tracks, totaling 52 minutes of pure entertainment. If you enjoy this record, then be sure to check out other artists in the New Zealand scene like The Clean, The Chills, Look Blue Go Purple and Chris Knox. -Scotty M.

Blast First available through:
Mute Bank Mail Order
429 Harrow Road London W10 4RE
Hummmmm-m-m-m-mm-mm-mmm- m-w-m-w-m-w. Thk-k-k-k-thkk- k-hum-thk-k-k-k-hum-hum-hum. Buzzzzz. S-k-s-k-sssk-sss-k-k-sss-k-k. MMMMmmmm k k k k k-k k k k k-k. Take early Kraftwerk and excise the few melodic elements. You're left with a series of beeps, hums, burbles, and of course, scratches from playing those old LPs for twenty years now. There you have Panasonic, the soon-to-be-litigated-out-of-their name group from Finland. Most of their instruments are homemade and of course, analog. Some tracks, notably the monotone and duotone hums can be quite irritating when played at high volume. The buzzscratch-buzz tracks are suitable for accompaniment to your morning shave. And as the tempos of some tracks increase, you'll find yourself doing whatever it is that you're doing at twice or thrice the normal speed. Better than Muzak, this CD. Sheer brilliance!


Sumatra: Batak Music
Maison des Cultures du Monde
101 Blvd Raspail 75006 Paris France
If I had to name my favorite album for 1995, this would be it. Batak Music is a collection of traditional music of the Batak people, who live on the northern part of the island of Sumatra. This mostly instrumental music usually accompanies ritual dancing, and it's performed by various ensembles that include deep, resonant gongs, tuned drums, metal percussion, oboes, and sometimes lutes, xylophones, and flutes. The diversity of sound and mood is extensive and ranges from slow, hypnotic processionals to the controlled abandon of spirit possessions. Layers of sound and rhythm create intricate, shifting webs, intense and bewitching. The accompanying liner notes satisfy the inevitable curiosity that arises from a first listen, but you'll have to listen many, many more times before you're sated. -Mary

write to: Prolapse Info c/o Turk
47 Avenue Road Extension
Clarendon Park Leicester LE2 3EP
This is the second simmering cauldron of Scots angst from this group. They've toned down lead ranter Mick Herrick's heavily accented and difficult to understand proclamations here (too bad), but more than made up for what would be the resulting lack of tension by the strengthening of the rhythm section, particularly the bass. Even on the restrained parts of this CD, the bass is churning with a restlessness seldom heard since the heyday of The Birthday Party and Joy Division. It's those simple, relentless riffs which really give this album an edge, even upstaging song titles such as Radio Drown Therapy and Every Night I'm Mentally Crucified (7000 Times). -Gabe

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