August 17, 2000, by Bill Ribas
Perforated Head, Maybe I'm Mayonnaise
The Regressives, The Miracle Vending Machine
The Killingtons, The Killingtons
Halley DeVestern, Live at the Towpath Inn
Lourds, Limited Edition Basement Tapes
Good Grief, It's a Dilly, Yo!
Ernest Woodall, 13
James Michael, Inhale
Perforated Head, Maybe I'm Mayonnaise (© 2000 T. Lott and I. Last)
Once again, here's a four-song EP that leaves the listener clamoring for more. My only guess is there was a limited budget here, and the money was spent on production. If so, it was money wisely spent, as producers Brian Sperber (Everclear) and Mike White (Lisa Loeb) squeeze the max out of this band. The songs are a mix of old and new sounds the old is vintage '80s new wave/alternative (the good stuff even the college stations didn't play much), while the new is Garbage-like, thick layers, vocal harmonies sweeping back and forth like beacon lights during a prison breakout, guitar hooks that'd land salmon in Alaska. Singer Tim Lott has that gravelly, smokers rasp coupled with the tone of an indifferent Brit, and when keyboardist Lois Last starts singing along, it's like a musical orgasm. Can you tell I like these crazy kids?
The Regressives, The Miracle Vending Machine (© 2000 Bedspin Records)
You listen to this once, hear something, listen again, and hear something else. It's something of a rarity, when a disc confounds you as you try to get a feel for what it's all about. The mostly folk-rooted, vocal-prominent music seeps out of the speakers and slowly takes hold of you. While some songs sound at times like a mix of America and early Bowie, they could change course dramatically by the time the chorus comes around. After repeated listening, you get a sense these guys are artists in the truest sense of the word the vocal lines, the musicianship, the song arrangements, there's a feeling that a lot of hard work went into the 13 tunes here, and it was time well spent. Oh, and they have a good sense of humor too (listen for the toilet flushing). Confused? Get the disc and work it out for yourself.
The Killingtons, The Killingtons (© 2000 Meg)
This California-based band plays emotional, guitar-heavy music, with a deft understanding of dynamics. Songs rise and fall like tides at Malibu, as in "Time Set to Kill," about a troubled relationship. Jangling guitar bits give way to space, quiet vocals, until all heaviness weighs in, a dissonant, crashing (hmmm, like surf) guitars beat their way into the picture. A lot of times it feels moody and introspective, but about the time you're feeling weepy, they bitch slap you with Les Pauls to keep you honest. If you're the moody and introspective type, this may act as therapy for you. If you're not, enjoy the music, and take delight knowing there are a bunch of moody and introspective people out there getting therapy, and you're miles ahead of them.
Halley DeVestern, Live at the Towpath Inn (© 2000 DeVestunes)
Presented with two of DeVestern's CDs, I chose the live disc over the studio. And although the instrumentation is light on the live disc, one only look back to the landmark case (the People vs. Milli Vanilli) to understand that if you can't cut it live, you can't cut it period. And she cuts it like the knife fight in West Side Story. With just guitar, fiddle, and drums, the disc proves to be a thumping, bluesy ride that actually benefits from the sparseness by promoting her voice. And her voice, when mellow, reminds one of Natalie Merchant, until she gets cooking, at which point she takes the road less traveled by the former, and sings from the gut like Janis Joplin. Heck, I almost felt like taking a pull off a bottle of gin. DeVestern was also part of the Indiegrrl circuit, and when success hits, which should be soon, she'll be packing the big houses on her own. Strong, soulful stuff.
Southfourth, Revolution (© 2000 Photon Records)
With guitars so clean they sound like they're going straight into the board, Southfourth's debut launches like ice cream trucks in summer. The vocals, by AnnMarie Bugler, are clean and clear as well, even when she's doubling up doing harmonies. The songs are lightweight, and that's not to be taken as detrimental. Somedays you're in a mood for something heavy, like steak, and somedays you'd rather have something refreshing, like club soda, all bubbly, and no calories. Southfourth just happens to be more like club soda. The third cut, "Perfect Everything," is riding up the charts, and it's a likable, fresh song. Sonically speaking, most of the songs are similar in tone and tempo, which is a bit distracting. "Rapture" gasses it up a bit when the chorus comes to town, but for the most part, the overall feeling is carefree and happy. And that's not bad at all.
Lourds, Limited Edition Basement Tapes (© 1999 Visceral Music)
If you've ever seen "The Simpsons" intro, where Lisa walks out of band practice playing as the spirit hits her, then you've got an idea of Lourds' real-life experience. Declared a child prodigy, she was also told by a conductor that she was making fun of classical music when she danced as she played. Anyway, this fiddle-playing vixen has a big voice, a real rock voice, and she can rip lines like, well, it's kind of hard to find a violin player in a rock context for reference (maybe Jean-Luc Ponty, but that's a different direction).
Her songs are well written and fit her like a glove, and her classical training shows through, as the songs are more, hmm, theatrical sounding overall. "That Girl," for example, sounds a bit like "My Way" when Sinatra sang it, and could be heard on a Broadway stage with nary an eye blink. Then again, a song like "Kiss Me, Kiss Me," is a scorcher. Not your average rock and roll, and definitely worth hunting for.
Motochrist, 666-Pack (© Dr. Wu Productions)
If you've been bored with the quality of rock lately, well, here comes Motochrist to kick your ass bloody. They're heavy, fast, loud, and guess what? They're melodic and write hooks too. Weaned on a diet of the Ramones, AC/DC, the Dead Boys and the like, you'll be banging your head and smiling. Heck, there's even a country sound to "Hellbound," but you'll still hear picks zoom-scraping the strings. They have a quirky sense of humor too, as seen by "We Came, We Saw, We Drank," another blistering cut. Actually, they're all fire-breathing tunes. There's even a song about motorcycle jumper Evel Knievel. For now the boys are based out in California, so unless they come to town you'll have to get by with the CD. Just be careful once it gets on your player it may never leave.
Good Grief, It's a Dilly, Yo! (© 2000 Good Grief Music/Fat Bowl Records)
Although this is a low budget affair, and the sound is, well, low budget, there's something likable about the effort. It's speedy stuff, the chord changes are fast, the vocals shouted, and you won't find a hook anywhere near the tunes. But for, well, speed punk, I suppose is what you'd call it, it's engaging, if hard to listen to due to poor production. "The Public Fornicator Song," for example, clips more than a marine barber, but it's a fun song to listen to. And like all fast punk discs, it's over in about 25 minutes, so it's not that painful. Are they good? Depends, I suppose. If they took the time to record the stuff so you could listen to it well enough to make a judgement, it'd be easier. Let's see what happens next.
Ernest Woodall, 13 by Ernest Woodall (© 2000 Earnest Woodall and Zephyrwood Music)
For fans of the avant garde out there, you're well aware that this genre isn't too popular. With the music bordering on a fence with insanity on one side, and genius on the other, it's sometimes difficult to tell exactly which way the songs or pieces are leaning. I do know that with junior balling his brains out upstairs, the 13 disc calmed me down quicker than liquid valium. This effect, of course, indicates that there is something there in the, uh, music (at least for me). Who knows, maybe Ernest has insight on how neurons react, and what effect tonality has on the human brain. In any event, it's an interesting listen, and revisiting the disc yields more surprises. My only question is, how does he go about naming these "tunes?" For example, "Spilling of Salt," which is devoid of lyrics, and a 2:25 romp with an electric piano.... Pick it up yourself and find out.
James Michael, Inhale (© 1999 Beyond Music)
Michael, on the verge of quitting the music business, thought of all the crap he'd been through over the years, and sat down and wrote the songs on this disc. I say, he should get pissed off more often. There's some great power pop/rock and roll here, and this will be one of the discs I keep playing over and over for months to come. Really. He went to college for music, and unhappy with the academic slant, turned to the rock world. On "Inhale," he plays many of the instruments himself (which, as a humorous thought, would make for an interesting stage show), and the sound is seamless. Production is beautiful, from the title track opener, to "Say It Once More," a ballad that closes the disc. The tunes are sensitive, smart, and well written, and hey, he even covers Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him," doing a respectable job with the cover. Here's another disc to put on your wish list.
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