Welcome to the A&A archives. There are currently 461 reviews in this section. Click on an artist to jump to those reviews, or simply scroll through the list. All reviews written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.

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  • D.I.
  • D.O.A.
  • D.O.P.E.
  • D.R.I. (2)
  • Paquito D'Rivera
  • Dabrye
  • Daddy Longhead
  • Daddys Hands
  • Dade County Resistance
  • Dag Nasty (2)
  • Daily Plannet
  • Daisycutter
  • Dakind
  • Dali's Dilemma
  • Dallas Orbiter (2)
  • Dalton Gang
  • Dama
  • Damaged (2)
  • Damnation (3)
  • The Damned (2)
  • The Damnwells
  • Damone
  • Michael Dean Damron and Thee Loyal Bastards
  • Dance Hall Crashers (2)
  • Dance Hall Pimps
  • Dangaru
  • Danger Doom
  • Dangerous Ponies
  • Dangerous Toys (2)
  • Jennifer Daniels
  • Danko Jones
  • Danzig (3)
  • Daredevils
  • Darediablo (2)
  • Dark Room Notes
  • Darkest Hour
  • Darkest of the Hllside Thickets
  • Darkthrone (2)
  • Jason Darling
  • Darlington (3)
  • Dartz!
  • Dash Rip Rock
  • Nick Dastardly and the Escape Artists
  • Data Cadet
  • Daubert & Holcombe
  • Daver
  • Dave's True Story
  • David Wax Museum
  • Guy David
  • Dave Davies
  • Duf Davis + the Book Club (2)
  • Geater Davis
  • Davis Waits
  • Dawn
  • Day of Reckoning
  • Dazzling Killmen (3)
  • dB Function
  • DC to Daylight
  • Christophe De Babalon
  • Lisa DeBenedictis
  • Mike DeLaCerda
  • Dead By Dawn
  • Dead Fly Boy
  • Dead Fucking Last (2)
  • Dead Heart Bloom (3)
  • Dead Horse
  • Dead Industry
  • Dead Meadow
  • Dead Orchestra
  • Dead Rat Orchestra
  • Dead Red Sea
  • Dead Voices on Air (4)
  • Dead World (4)
  • Dead Youth (2)
  • Deadbolt (5)
  • Deadguy
  • Deadspot
  • Deaf Judges
  • Dearly Beheaded
  • Arron Dean
  • Death (2)
  • Death Engine
  • Todd Deatherage
  • Death in the Park
  • Death in Vegas
  • Todd Deatherage
  • The Deathray Davies
  • Death Ride 69
  • The Death Set
  • The Deaths
  • Deathstar
  • Sara DeBell
  • Doug DeBias
  • Deceased (5)
  • Dan DeCellis
  • Billy Dechand (2)
  • Decomposure
  • Deconstruction
  • Deep Jimi and the Zep Creams
  • Brian Deer
  • Deerheart
  • Deering and Down
  • Defecated Corpse
  • Defecation
  • Defiance
  • Deicide (5)
  • Del Rey
  • Delerium (2)
  • The Delgados
  • Delirious?
  • Deliverance
  • Kevin Dellinger
  • The Delta 72 (3)
  • Demolition Hammer (2)
  • The Demon Beat
  • Gitane Demone
  • Demonic
  • Demons & Wizards
  • The Demos
  • Denison/Kimball Trio (2)
  • Sam Densmore (3)
  • Departure Lounge
  • The DeRita Sisters and Junior
  • Derjason
  • Jon DeRosa
  • Rick Derringer (2)
  • Will Derryberry Band
  • Deru
  • Desar
  • Descendents
  • Desert City Soundtrack (3)
  • The Desert Fathers
  • Desoto Jones
  • Despair
  • Alice Despard (3)
  • Destroyer
  • Desultory (2)
  • The Details
  • Deutsch Nepal
  • Deviate
  • Willy DeVille
  • Kevin Devine
  • Devo
  • Devon
  • deVries
  • Dewey Defeats Truman
  • DFA
  • Dial M
  • Alpha Yaya Diallo
  • Dianogah (3)
  • Diatribe
  • Ernesto Diaz-Infante (11)
  • Dick Justice
  • The Dickheads
  • The Dickies
  • Didjits (2)
  • Dido
  • Die Kreuzen
  • Die Krupps (4)
  • Die Monster Die (2)
  • Die Warzau
  • Dielectric Minimalist All-Stars
  • Diesel Boy
  • Diesel Machine
  • Diesto
  • Diet Kong
  • The Difference Machine
  • The Diggers
  • Digital Blue
  • Digital Poodle (2)
  • Henri Dikongue
  • Sandy Dillon
  • Dime Bag
  • The Dimes
  • Dimmu Borgir
  • Din
  • The Dingees
  • Dingle
  • The Dining Room Set
  • The Dinner Is Ruined
  • Dio
  • Dipnoi
  • Dirt Cheap
  • Dirt Fishermen
  • Dirt Mall (2)
  • Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Dirty Rotten Imbeciles
  • Dirt Mall
  • Dirty Three (5)
  • Disembowelment (2)
  • Disengage (2)
  • Disgorge
  • Disgust
  • Disharmonic Orchestra (2)
  • Disincarnate
  • Dismember (5)
  • Dismemberment Plan
  • Dissection
  • Dissent (2)
  • Dissidenten
  • The Distance Formula (2)
  • The Distillers
  • Distorted Pony
  • The Distraction
  • Ditch Witch (3)
  • Dive
  • D!v!s!on #9
  • Divit (2)
  • The Divorce
  • The Dixie Hummingbirds
  • The Gabe Dixon Band
  • DJ Andy Smith
  • DJ Cam
  • The Delta 72 (3)
  • DJ ELI
  • DJ Logic
  • DJ Mark Farina
  • DJ Methodikal
  • DJ Sun
  • DJ? Acucrack
  • DM3
  • Do or Die
  • Doc Hopper (2)
  • Dr. Bob's Nightmare (2)
  • Dr. Dan
  • Dr Frank
  • Doctor Hadley (2)
  • Dr. Octagon
  • Dr. Squish
  • Dr.roberts
  • Dog Eat Dog (3)
  • Dog Faced Hermans (2)
  • Dogbowl
  • Doghouse Swine
  • Dogmatics
  • Dogon (2)
  • Mary Dolan
  • Dolour
  • Don Caballero (6)
  • Donald Wilson
  • The Donnas
  • Donovan
  • Dave Doobinin
  • The Doormats
  • The Doosies
  • Dope Body
  • Doppelganger
  • The Dorks
  • Dos Coyotes
  • Double Ought Spool
  • Doughnuts (2)
  • Down By Law (5)
  • Download (3)
  • Downset (2)
  • Downside Special
  • Downstroke
  • Downtime
  • Drag the River
  • DragKing (2)
  • Dragonfly
  • The Dragons (2)
  • Arizona Dranes
  • Linda Draper (3)
  • The Drawing Room
  • Drawn from Bees
  • Dread Motif
  • Dreadful Shadows
  • Dream Into Dust (4)
  • Dreamfield
  • DreamLand
  • The Dreamside
  • The Drift (2)
  • Drip Tank
  • Dripping Goss
  • Ryan Driver
  • Driver of the Year
  • Pete Droge & the Sinners
  • Dronen
  • Drop Acid
  • Drop Hammer
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Dropsonic
  • Dropzone
  • Drown
  • Drowningman (2)
  • Drug Money
  • Drum Machine Technicians (3)
  • Drumhead
  • Drums and Tuba (3)
  • Drunk (2)
  • Drunken Boat
  • The Drunks
  • Drywater
  • Drzhivegas
  • Todd Duane
  • Chris Duarte Group
  • Dub Club
  • Dub Gabriel
  • Dub Syndicate
  • Dub War
  • Dubadelic
  • Dubious Ranger
  • Duck Butter
  • Jim Duffy (2)
  • Dufus
  • Duh
  • Duke Fame
  • Dumm Dumms
  • Dumpster Juice
  • Dumpster Juice/Godplow
  • Dunderhead
  • Trevor Dunn
  • Dunwich
  • Duotang (4)
  • Duraluxe
  • Durdy Birdie
  • Dureforsog
  • Liz Durrett
  • Dustbowl Revival (2)
  • Duster
  • Dutch Kills (2)
  • DuValby Bros.
  • David Dvorin
  • The Dygmies

  • D.F.L.-see Dead Fucking Last


    D.I.
    State of Shock
    (Doctor Dream)
    reviewed in issue #55, 5/31/94

    Straightforward melodic punk from a few folk who have been doing it a while.

    The production is a little raw, but that's certainly nothing to bitch about. The lyrics get a spot contrived at times, but that's nothing unusual, either.

    I guess the thing that bugs me is the lack of a distinguishing characteristic. This is good punk stuff, but there's a lot of that going around now, and I can't find a spark here. This edition of D.I. is merely above average.


    D.O.A.
    13 Flavours of Doom
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #24, 11/15/92

    After recording a fine EP with Jello Biafra, D.O.A. roar back on their own (and on AT) with this great album. There are no Canadian punk bands even close to this, and damn few American ones. This is as tight as …Missing Neighbors and just as fun. It outstrips the album they had on Restless, Murder, easily. They sounded tired then. Now the energy's back and so are the tunes.

    In an issue with a ton of hard core reviews, this is a real standout (not to put anyone else down). No posing, just jams.


    It's Not Unusual... But It Sure Is Ugly CD5
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #32, 4/15/93

    It would have been real interesting to see how they fit five tunes on a vinyl seven-inch, but I am rather grateful for the CD service.

    The title track, a rather straight (punk-wise) cover of the Tom Jones tune, is pretty decent. The other four originals are straight, by-the-book punk musings, which, of course, make me hop all over the room.

    A lot of you didn't get into 13 Flavours of Doom, and you missed the boat. These guys have been around with various configurations for almost fifteen years, giving rise to the question many in MaxRNR have been asking: "What do you do when you're a 40-year-old punk?"

    D.O.A. have a few years to ferment before then, but they don't seem to have aged a day yet.


    The Only Thing Green 7"
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #41, 1015/93

    Preachier than your average punk band, D.O.A.'s new single (with an album due later this month) is a benefit for the Friends of Clayoquot Sound. That's the big body of water near Vancouver, if I can read a map correctly.

    The rant is a fun one against rich people who like to fuck the environment to make more cash. Let's all go grab some 12-gauges and shoot out the windows of the local Wal-Mart (not mentioned in the song; just my idea).

    The flip is yet another cover of "Folsom Prison Blues". I guess I never realized how influential Johnny Cash was to the past two generations of loud music heroes (not to mention pretentious Irish twits). Smiles all around.


    Loggerheads
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #42, 10/31/93

    Another slab from the band that keeps the preach in punk. If you like your messages blunt and to the point, you can do no wrong here.

    The lack of subtlety is nothing new, and the music does seem a little more sophisticated than previous efforts. Many tracks here have a heavy environmental theme, which was foreseen by the seven-inch.

    In general, I found Loggerheads a lot more interesting than 13 Flavours, and I don't know why. It might be just a weird mood, or maybe I'm just feeling a little holier-than-thou today. Whatever. I've got the volume up to eleven.


    D.O.P.E.
    Resination
    (Anti-Gravity)
    reviewed in issue #72, 3/15/95

    What if King's X grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple instead of the Beatles and Sly and the Family Stone? Well, they might have turned out like D.O.P.E.

    J.C. Stokes does a passable Doug Pinnick imitation (and he does sound a lot like Pinnick), and the rest of the band cranks out bass-heavy metal anthem after metal anthem. Sorta like if Pantera lost the guitars or something. And when you hear a guitar, it sounds like a pale imitation of the effects Ty Tabor puts on his.

    King's X is a fine band to emulate. But D.O.P.E. needs to expand its sound past the anthem stage and find its own niche. These folks make up a good band. They just need to mature a little.


    D.R.I.
    Definition...
    (Rotten Records)
    reviewed in issue #23, 10/31/92

    You know, I remember when D.R.I. was an amusing hardcore outfit who really didn't know where they stood in the musical food chain. Now that they're an amusing metal outfit who still haven't figured out who to munch on, I'm still not sure what I think of them.

    This album is not as metal as "Thrash Zone," and the move to Rotten has served them well creatively. This sounds real good, and the lyrics are very good, which is not something you might always expect from these guys.

    But this isn't hardcore. And it's not really metal. I hope you folks play this, because it is very interesting and at times real good. It sure is loud. And D.R.I. have achieved legendary status just for hanging as long as they have.

    They aren't what they used to be, but they just might be better.


    Full Speed Ahead
    (Rotten)
    reviewed in issue #98, 2/5/96

    You know what happens after making albums for 12 years? You get to be an institution. Hell, I remember when the paper boy came to our house when I was in high school (mid-80s--yow!) with a D.R.I. t-shirt. And this was in the wastelands of eastern New Mexico. So they've obviously sold out and moved on, right?

    Well, those Metal Blade records might be considered sell-out, I suppose. But the sound hasn't really changed, except that the songs sometimes approach three mnutes in length. And that's been the case for ages.

    No, D.R.I. doesn't rip off these super-speed-demon riffs for songs at a time anymore. The folks have slowed down and gotten a touch more tuneful. And now that punk is cool again, people are even buying the CDs.

    Full Speed Ahead is cheesy at times, I guess, but the sound is a nice approximation of that snotty thrash stuff that hardcore bands cranked out in the mid-80s. And let's get real: this is much better than that shitty Circle Jerks reunion disc from last year. D.R.I. never quit. And it's still a real deal.


    Paquito D'Rivera
    100 Years of Latin Love Songs
    (Heads Up)
    reviewed in issue #173, 12/14/98

    Ten songs, each from a succeeding decade. Paquito D'Rivera generally plays the soprano saxophone, but he also picks up an alto and a clarinet from time to time. These songs were popular hits of their times, which means they aren't necessarily the most sophisticated tunes around. Could make for some treacly listening.

    Sometimes, particularly on the pieces which feature a full string orchestra, but producer Bob Belden generally manages to imbue his arrangements with more of a jazz feel than they probably had originally. D'Rivera does his part, providing soulful playing without pandering. These are songs which, indeed, express the many lights of love.

    An ever-complex subject, and these renditions are faithful to both the originals and the intent of the project. To provide an introduction to the wide influence Latin music has had on "American" culture. I recognized many of these songs, even some of the older ones, and these performances are certainly the best I've heard.

    High on the schlock potentiometer, D'Rivera, Belden and company instead deliver a fine album with all the grace and beauty such an endeavor requires. Difficult, but mission accomplished nonetheless.


    Dabrye
    Instrmntl
    (Eastern Developments Music-Hefty)
    reviewed in issue #231, July 2002

    A little one-off--Dabrye is still hanging his shingle out with Ghostly International. But first, some work for this new "feature" imprint from Hefty.

    Dabrye's realm is electronic. He dabbles in funk and hip-hop and isn't afraid to throw a little jazz in besides. His pieces have a thick sound, but they're never cluttered. Every bit is organized down to the last byte.

    There's no getting bored with these fun jams. Sure, Dabrye insists on crafting original beats and clever asides. His experiments simply merge into the smooth flow that he's created. This is music for a mellow, but not calm, evening. If you know what I mean.

    And if you don't, well hell. Dabrye's got soul coming out of every electrode, and he's not afraid to infuse his pieces with that emotion and desire. Just makes me like the stuff that much more.


    Daddy Longhead
    Supermasonic
    (Honest Abe Custom Records)
    reviewed in issue #131, 3/31/97

    Texas blooze 'n' boogie, filtered through a heavy psychedelic filter. Featuring Jeff Pinkus, he once of the Butthole Surfers, which makes sense once you hear this.

    Kinda like if Kiss (with Gene singing) played ZZ Top, with Kramer producing. It sounds like a good idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The songs are not terribly well fleshed out, and the production has left everything under this layer of haze.

    Alright if you really like this sort of thing (and old Surfers fans just might, though I'm not betting on it), but just too mundane for me. Daddy Longhead simply never gets anywhere.

    And I'm not sure if the guys are really trying that much. Stirring the sludge is an interesting experiment, but it doesn't cut it with me here.


    Daddy's Hands
    Tutankhamun
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    So imagine if Deadbolt utilized a cheap keyboard sound and dropped in vocalists that sound like the B-52s on X. I'm not even going to talk about the lyrics. When they make sense, they're dreadfully out there.

    All of which, of course, makes this somewhat compelling. Not unlike your average car wreck, I suppose, but still, boring it's not. Daddy's Hands never gets dull.

    Which is not to say that what's going on here is untrammeled brilliance. There are some nice moments (probably the last words the band members want connected to their work), and even some kooky little bits that work. But most of it is a bit too close to dada for comfort.

    Weirdness without a point doesn't get me off. Perhaps there is a message within this madness, but I didn't divine it. Fun for kicks, but not much more.


    Dade County Resistance
    with Burns Out Bright and Last to Know
    Twelve Step Program
    (Three Day)
    reviewed in issue #227, March 2002

    Who knew that Columbia, S.C., was such a haven for great emo? Well, there have been signs. A while back I was pretty well knocked out by Burns Out Bright, and it's pretty rare that a scene has only one good band. If there's no competition, it can be hard to really be inspired to work on your chops.

    And once again, Burns Out Bright blows me away. Without sticking to any one particular emo ideal, the boys do a nice job of hitting the sound just so. The depth of the ideas in the songs is most impressive.

    Dade County Resistance is a bit more limited in its approach, sticking to an uptempo, melodic feel (not unlike a rougher-edged Ataris, say), but these guys do have four great songs here. Same goes for Last to Know, who whipsaws from contemplative to blistering (sometimes in the same song).

    The production values are a bit limited (particularly with the second two bands), but the songs are great. And isn't punk supposed to be just a little ragged on the edges? I thought so. I wish more bands and labels would put together projects like this. It's always nice to have a snapshot in time of a particular scene.


    Dag Nasty
    Four on the Floor
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #7, 2/14/92

    The second half of my Saturday serendipity (see Bad Religion review if you don't understand). Not a reunion as much as meeting cemented by Mexican food (so the press states). No, they will not tour or even acknowledge the real existence of the band (or even necessarily use their real names, due to major label contracts with other bands). But there's the problem of this album, you see...

    And what a problem. Punk is not dead, and today it seems to be the source of the best pop songs out there. While not as fast as many of their hard core buds, Dag Nasty have aggression to spare and great tunes to boot. While many alternative bands are selling out and adding lots of crap to their music, it's refreshing to see Dag Nasty sticking to simple roots.

    If you can't find room for bands like Bad Religion and Dag Nasty on your loud music shows, then you are really missing out. You'll not only be depriving deserving bands of airtime, but you'll be depriving your listeners of some of the best music around.


    Minority of One
    (Revelation)
    reviewed in issue #232, August 2002

    Another "comeback." Another label. Another good album. So what if it's been 10 years since Four on the Floor? Some punks do get better with age.


    Daisycutter
    Cavity

    split 7"
    (Starcrunch)
    reviewed in issue #128, 2/17/97

    I accidentally listened to the Daisycutter side first (it's not like there are any clear markings or anything--I had to read the vinyl etchings). Daisycutter deals in sludge, cutting the mess with samples and some other weird stuff that simply happens by. The song was a bit dirge-like, and I'm not sure why. Let's just say I didn't like it.

    Cavity, though, does the same thing, only better. The music moves just a bit faster, and the absurd rant that is laid over the music is just coherent enough to be amusing. Excessive use of the word "motherfucker" that borders on language abuse. So right there we're in good company.

    I figure I'd like some other stuff that Daisycutter does; this song just didn't appeal to me. But the Cavity was damned exciting. They split the rating, but this slab is worth checking out if you're into the unusual.


    Dakind
    Dakind
    (Foot Shakin' Music)
    reviewed in issue #129, 3/3/97

    Way out off the trendy road, Dakind flicks off the rap-metal-funk trip like Infectious Grooves, Scatterbrain, Love/Hate and others. Not the commercial stuff of latter-day RHCP, but the stuff that has never quite broken into the mainstream. And Dakind does it fairly well.

    Oh, the waves of excess are apparent and annoying. Dakind doesn't try to pretty anything up for the masses, and the band insists on making its own way through the a morass of unpopular music. This is compliment, so don't take me wrong: Dakind is precisely the sort of band that my brother Matt (the Lies guy) would love to front.

    I find this sorta stuff fairly cheesy most of the time, but Dakind is damned impressive. Whenever I think I can predict the band's next move I'm surprised. The mark of fine songwriters.

    And they didn't skimp on the recording budget, getting Steve Albini to work the knobs. You can hear Albini's contribution in the rich guitar sound and the wild diversity of sonic textures. And the vocals are astonishingly good for an Albini recording.

    Far better than I would have expected, especially if I had been given a description before listening. I have no idea how many people would appreciate this sound, but Dakind makes it as attractive as is possible.


    Dali's Dilemma
    Manifesto for Futurism
    (Magna Carta)
    reviewed in issue #179, 3/29/99

    Just in case you miss Fates Warning (say, the 1991 vintage or so), here's Dali's Dilemma. Could a band with such a name play anything other than prog? I doubt it.

    For the most part, these guys manage to hold a groove constant in each song, even while going through all the prog machinations (stop-start drum licks, etc.). This is where keys and a good singer come in handy. And Dali's Dilemma is blessed in those areas.

    Tight harmonies (tight everything, of course) and some strangely inspired riffage. Dali's Dilemma doesn't break out of the genre, but it does the sound about as well as it's gonna get done. Most impressive for a first album.

    Most impressive, period. Most prog albums require a bit of work to get into. Dali's Dilemma allows many access points, making it that much easier to get within the sound and enjoy the technical brilliance which, of course, must be displayed. Well put.


    Dallas Orbiter
    Magnesium Fireflies
    (Princess)
    reviewed in issue #263, April 2005

    There's something about Minnesota that seems to inspire kids to play uptempo, off-kilter music. Think about it; even the most famous musical denizens of the Twin Cities are considered weird, if not demented. And hell, anyone who would call an album "Magnesium Fireflies" can't be all well.

    That's cool with me. Dallas Orbiter does depart a bit from the formula I described above. While the songs here are decidedly off-kilter--trending somewhere between straight up psychedelia and simple dementia--the boys aren't afraid to be contemplative when necessary. Always, though, with an attendant boot to the head.

    These boys aren't weird for the sake of being weird, though. There's a method to the lunacy. The songs make more sense than the sounds that make them up, if that makes any sense at all. Sometimes it helps to be able to assemble a song after it has passed, but hey, isn't that exactly the sort of band music critics love?

    Of course. Dallas Orbiter doesn't make things easy for its listeners. But it does reward the adventurous with a journey that is well worth the fare, one that improves in value every time you take it. Get lost. And don't come back until your head has been rearranged.


    Motorcycle Diagrams
    (Princess)
    reviewed in issue #295, April 2008

    Loopy math-ish stuff. Reminds me a lot of Brainiac. I guess that reference may be lost on some of you. Too bad, man. Brainiac was the shit.

    What I like is that these guys mix their obvious proficiency and inclination toward analytical sounds with what can only be described as a deranged sensibility. There is no sense to a fair portion of this, except within the minds of the folks propagating it.

    And even when Dallas Orbiter retreats into geekland, the songs are engaging. There's always an interesting rhythm somewhere, and the sense of melody here is involved, but rarely convoluted beyond the realm of reality.

    Sure, it's a little weird. And it's guaranteed to reduce your chances of romance. Sacrifices must be made if good music is to survive.


    Dalton Gang
    Miami Shadows
    (Second Step)
    reviewed in issue #83, 8/21/95

    Willy Dalton may be the namesake of the band, but his guitar takes a second seat to the horn members of the gang.

    For the most part, this is that sort of music I like to call (derisively) happy jazz. But instead of making sublime standards saccharine, Dalton merely writes his own cheesy pieces. So one notch higher on the ladder.

    I like the emphasis on the horns, but the 70's Latin funk fusion style that the Gang plays is not one of my favorite idioms. The playing is competent and even occasionally inspired, but there is this nasty Tower of Power feel to things that makes my skin crawl.

    Many folks dig this sort of thing. I don't. To me, this seems like pandering to commerce instead of creating. But that's just me.


    Dama
    2000 A.D.
    (Eterniti)
    reviewed in issue #184, 7/5/99

    Some of that Jesus Lizard Chicago-style noisage, with a definite SoCal touch. I know, Rage is from the East Coast, but the mosh rap groove has been appropriated and updated by folks across the country.

    The band is tight, and the songs are also tightly penned. At times I'm a bit concerned that nothing is really being said, but the music does sound reasonably good.

    The modifiers are telling. Dama is good at what it does. But there isn't enough here to stand out in any particular way. Good, but kinda generic. I'm not hearing the fire of originality which would really kick me over the edge.

    These boys are solid, though, no doubt. And maybe it's my jaded palate which is the problem here. Quite possible. Dama just doesn't get me off.


    Damaged
    Token Remedies Research
    (Rotten)
    reviewed in issue #146, 10/27/97

    Mixing the noise metal of Eyehategod with the metalcore drum grooves of Pro-Pain, Damaged kicks out some serious rhythm-laden goo. And they're Australian to boot (as if that means anything).

    I'm already getting cute, and that's one thing Damaged is not. This is sludgy stuff that probably would have been called death metal a couple years back, though it's more like Buzzov*en than Incantation. And while the drums have been mastered to a strange, artificial quality, those skins power the songs.

    Everything else kinda revolves around that percussive center, sometimes actually even cooperating with the other instruments. Often enough, though, anarchy reigns. I'm not opposed.

    A glorious mess. I think the band should, you know, act like a band and play as a unit a bit more than actually happens, but the resulting cesspool is still fun to play with. I can only imagine the live show.


    Purified in Pain
    (Rotten Records)
    reviewed in issue #207, 10/30/00

    Riding the modern edge of the extreme, Damaged combines the full-throated aggression of old school death metal with the somewhat more hyper intensity of bands like Hatebreed and Earth Crisis.

    These guys almost always find their groove, too. The songs are tight and generally short, focusing on one musical thought at a time. That keeps the focus lean and the intent mean.

    Sharply-produced, too, which leaves the sound fast and crunchy. Not a mess by any means, Damaged has some ace players who can play well even as the tempos spin faster and faster.

    Yeah, it's just a modern sheen on an old sound. But boy, it sounds great. Damaged knows what it's doing and it does this oh-so-well. Top notch aggression.


    Damnation
    Beelzebubble Gum 7"
    (BYO)
    reviewed in issue #177, 2/22/99

    Kinda like a slightly more manic Ramones, Damnation kicks through three "demonic" songs, with clever lyrical and musical references.

    Like, say, the riff on "Sympathy for the Devil" which introduces "666 13" on the flip. So light it threatens to fly away, but still worth a smile or two.

    I like the way the guys all weapons at their disposal to get some humorous points across. Top marks.


    Drunk & Stupid EP
    (R.A.F.R.)
    reviewed in issue #189, 10/11/99

    EP? Try six songs in less than eight minutes. With titles like "Fucked," "Hell Race" and the title track, you know you're not in for an evening of discussing the great Greek philosophers.

    What can be found are six hi-octane punk rawkers, each charming in its own way. Basic basic, but amusing as well. My only real problem is with the sound. This thing sounds like it was recorded in a padded cell. All of the sounds are rather muffled for a professionally-recorded set.

    Ah, well. It is punk, after all. Can't have everything. I'll take the adrenaline and cheap three-chord symphonies just fine, thanks.


    The Unholy Sounds of Damnation
    (R.A.F.R.)
    reviewed in issue #236, December 2002

    Cheap 'n' sleazy rock and roll. Not exactly punk and not exactly metal, but rather a muscular fusion of the two. Think of early Crue--with a sense of humor. Indeed, most of the songs here are wry enough to bring a smile to the faces of the most jaded.


    The Damned
    Not of This Earth
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #115, 7/29/96

    Exceptionally crisp and refined, this "here we go again" reunion studio album brings together most of the original line-up (even if Brian James is merely a guest) to crank out stuff that does sound something like what we now know as the Damned.

    Dave Vanian's vocals are in fine form (though a bit high in the mix, if you ask me), and there's plenty of fine guitar work from former Godfathers (he quit that band before Unreal World) Kris Dollimore. Now that I think of it, the hack and slash guitar sound the Damned promulgated twenty years ago is a ready precursor of what Dollimore played with his old mates.

    Fun, easy, and kinda forgettable. It doesn't suck, and it doesn't excite me, either. While certainly a record worthy of the Damned above the title, it would have taken a really great album to extend the legend further. That didn't happen.


    Shut It 7"
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #120, 10/7/96

    "Shut It" has been mixed by Die Krupps, but it doesn't sound much different than the album version. The song is a decent punk raver, but not particularly wonderful. The new mix doesn't change that.

    The flip is just the album version of the same song. You can do a little comparison for yourself. Apart from emphasizing the lead line a bit more, the Die Krupps boys didn't do much at all.

    For die-hard fans only.


    The Damnwells
    PMR + 1 EP
    (In Music We Trust)
    reviewed in issue #237, January 2003

    I'm not a patient man. I am a fan of abstract music, but when it comes to pop music I much prefer getting hit over the head. Give me the hook, give it to me fast and keep beating me until my brain bleeds.

    The Damnwells don't play that way. These boys work their way slowly into songs. Sometimes there really isn't a discernible hook until the piece is more than halfway done. And worst of all, the pieces are decidedly slow.

    Of course, all of this is done with such immaculate precision that I have to choice but to praise it lavishly. I hate it when that happens. These folks are too good for their own, um good. And as a side note, despite the clever little bit in the liners about how six-song releases aren't necessarily EPs (preferring to call them poor man's releases, or pmr for short), I'm calling this puppy an EP. Sue me.


    Damone
    From the Attic
    (RCA/BMG)
    reviewed in issue #238, February 2003

    Every once in a while a major label sends me a disc. Every once in a great while I actually like what they send me. Damone is one of those bands.

    Rather than stick to the under-produced sound of the current garage trend, Damone plays the style but goes for the over-the-top sound (mixed by Tom Lord-Alge, which is really all you need to know there). Full of reverb, with lots of extras on the edges. And then there's the vocals of a certain Noelle, who is apparently still in high school. Even though the guys in the band appear to be well toward 30, if they aren't there already.

    I don't say this to be mean. It worked for Garbage, right? And anyway, I really like this stuff. It's simple, it's loud (almost glam metallic at times, which is perfectly cool with me) and there's serious amperage in the playing. A fine rush.

    Okay, maybe I wouldn't have gone for the tenth vocal overdub on a couple of these songs. If you want me to be picky, that's about what I have to work with. I'm not in love, but I'd sleep with this band in a minute. Cheap and slutty is a fine way to go.


    Michael Dean Damron and Thee Loyal Bastards
    Bad Days Ahead
    (In Music We Trust)
    reviewed in issue #298, July 2008

    It's hard to imagine, but Michael Dean Damron has gone solo and nonetheless managed to come up with a more unwieldy moniker than his old band, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House. Interestingly, he's also tightened up his songwriting and pumped out his first really great album.

    There's a definite New Faces meets Replacements (and run through an americana filter) feel--I don't know about you, but just the thought of such a thing sends a shiver up my thigh. Damron has a stellar rasp, and this time he's set it to some first-rate songs.

    Damron wrote a number of excellent songs with ICLASITH, but those were often overshadowed by a few too many car wrecks. Those excessive tendencies have been pruned from this set, and what's left is an album chock full of rootsy, rockin' goodies, delivered with some of the grainiest vocals in music today.

    Just beautiful. I'd been waiting for Damron to finally come through, and he has. The ever-present talent has finally produced something spectacular. Lovely, lovely, lovely.


    Dance Hall Crashers
    Purr
    (Pink & Black-Fat Wreck)
    reviewed in issue #187, 8/30/99

    Pink & Black is Fat Wreck Chords' new imprint designed to showcase female-led bands. And for a splash, why not the first post-major label release from the Dance Hall Crashers?

    For those unfamiliar (and given the level of ska awareness out there, my guess is there aren't many in that category), Dance Hall Crashers start with the vocals (tightly-written parts) and then add a basic guitar-drum-bass trio backing. The stripped-down style belies the lush vocal arrangements.

    A nice dichotomy, one that would make the band attractive, even if the songs themselves were merely mediocre. That's not the case, though. Stripped of the major-label production excess sheen, Dance Hall Crashers really rip through these solid tunes. Probably the band's most immediately arresting disc ever.

    At the top of its craft, let me be the first to say. This puppy just screams pure joy. Play it loud, and sing along. If you dare.


    The Live Record
    (Pink and Black)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    The big question here: Can the Dance Hall Crashers sustain their vocal brilliance in a live setting? Well, that one is answered immediately in the affirmative. Not only that; the live arrangements take a little bit of sheen off the songs, which makes them even more warm and approachable.

    Also, these arrangements are rather faster than the studio versions. There are 25 songs here in a bit less than 70 minutes, and the pace never slows down. Even the "witless banter" advertised on the cover zips by quickly.

    So this serves not only as a cool live set, but a more-than-decent DHC compilation. Certainly it's a fine advertisement for the next show in your town. If this is any indication, the live is the best way to experience the band.

    Few live albums are worth the time of day. This one is one of the best I've heard. Top quality all the way.


    Dance Hall Pimps
    Beast for Love
    (Lakeshore)
    reviewed in issue #335, March 2012

    Cross banjo picking with hard rockin' riffage and an almost impenetrable rhythm section and you're starting to get the idea. This is the worst band name I've come across in ages, but the music more than makes up for that. The center of these songs is pure rockabilly, but the middle is thicker than Alex Ovechkin's thighs.

    What I like is the way that the old time rock and roll manages to outdo the heavy-handed production. And with a bit of banjo and piano leavening the mix, these songs really roll down easy.

    The band is relatively new, but the members have been around since forever. Jeff Jourard was in the Motels (among others) and just about everyone else has a similar story (the name Tom Petty keeps dropping everywhere). In short, we're talking about session guys who are having a blast doing their own thing. Singer RJC (R.J. Comer) has a fine rasp, even if he hasn't been singing for quite a while.

    As might be expected, there is a by-the-book feel to a few of these songs, but the performances are so solid (particularly the reed work of Steve Carr) that it's much easier to get carried away than bogged down in details. Let the good times roll.


    Dangaru
    Dangaru EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #209, 12/11/00

    A few guys from the city formed Dangaru after they "had grown tired of sitting around the house after their bands had broken up." That same sort of basic attitude is reflected in the writing and playing.

    Just yer basic rawk with some nice flourishes (these boys do know how to use distortion as a melodic element). The hooks are loose, but sweet. There's nothing spectacular going on, but the songs are fun and they've all got a nice, live feel.

    I'm constantly amazed by the number of bands who can't figure out how to play simple music. Dangaru knows the secrets, most of which involve not sweating the details. Just have a little fun, and the music will reflect that. And Dangaru is nothing if not fun.


    Danger Doom
    The Mouse and the Mask
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #270, November 2005

    Collage fans exult! Danger Mouse and Doom come together to salute "Adult Swim." Yeah, it sounds silly, and so it is. And rather than try to dignify this concept with some sort of meta interpretation, Doom and the Mouse embrace the silliness of it all.

    The cultural references (many hailing from universes far removed from Cartoon Network) fly almost as fast as the beats--precisely the sort of zeitgeist surf fans of these guys expect. No disappointment there.

    Or anywhere. The beatwork and production are stellar, and the sound is smashingly smooth. This album has that loopy cocktail hour feel, the sort of thing you might play if serving bubble gum martinis.

    Like I noted up top, this stuff is utterly silly. And that's cool. Why make this any more than it is: An exceptionally silly, fun and infectious album.


    Dangerous Ponies
    Dangerous Ponies
    (Punk Rock Payroll)
    reviewed in issue #325, March 2011

    Raucous, messy and often scintillating indie pop. Dangerous Ponies fail to adhere to any particular song construction style, but the almost omnipresent walking bass keeps everyone in line.

    Jaunty is another fine word for many of these songs. It's difficult to avoid smiling when this album trips across the ears. The general disorder of the proceedings tends to charm rather than annoy.

    And the sound? All over the place. Sometimes sharp, and sometimes much more muted. Dangerous Ponies connect almost none of the dots and seem to be eternally reaching for more material. Somehow, that all works.

    I suspect the astounding energy levels of the band has a lot to do with that. This stuff is crazy crazy, but mostly crazy good.


    Dangerous Toys
    Pissed
    (dos/DMZ records)
    reviewed in issue #58, 7/15/94

    Yes, I played "Sport'n a Woody" just like everybody else. I even bought a t-shirt with the same slogan at the concert. It was dumb, but certainly entertaining. Then came the follow-up, whatever it was called. Yeecch!

    A few years on down the road, Dangerous Toys resurfaces.

    The title track is about the catchiest thing here (or maybe the stuff just starts to wear on me after a few songs). Still, it is damned entertaining, and you will find yourself singing it over and over again. Until you barf.

    My musical tastes have evolved since I dug the first DT record. I don't listen to Cinderella anymore. But I jammed the advance twice, which means I did like it the first time (and the second).

    It's cheap and easy and kinda dumb. But it is also fun, without crossing the line over to stupidity. Eat it like Chili Cheese Fritos.


    The R*tist 4*rmerly Known as Dangerous Toys
    (DMZ)
    reviewed in issue #88, 9/25/95

    The press claims a different musical direction. Well, the production has added heavier edges and the occasional grunge feel (and sometimes a little of both), but the base of each tune is still that patented DT take on glam metal.

    And, actually, I prefer the tunes that stick closer to the older roots. I mean, why should Dangerous Toys really want to sound like Pantera (check out "The Numb")? And sometimes, as with "Take Me Swiftly", the boys find a sound that mixes the catchier elements of glam and drum machine-driven industrial grooving. The glam-grunge of "New Anger" and "Cure the Sane" is also most appealing.

    There's still a ballad and lots of other stuff that sounds calculated. But if you have to pick a glam record this week to dig, then the Dangerous Toys is head and shoulders above that Tattoo Rodeo crap. This is not a great album, but it's certainly worth a spin or few.


    Jennifer Daniels
    Dive and Fly
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #221, 9/3/01

    Jennifer Daniels is certainly ambitious. This album ranges widely both in terms of lyrical and musical content. Daniels is, in a way, a typical singer-songwriter. In that she sings her own songs, anyway. But all the stops were let in the production of this album. Hardly an amateur effort.

    When I talk about the production, I'm not saying it was overdone. It's simply that the sound is full and lush, even when it's just Daniels and her guitar. Sometimes a veritable orchestra surrounds her, and sometimes she stands alone. In every song, Daniels is the center of attention.

    Precisely how it should be. The songs are the stars and she is the lead instrument. All of the accompaniment in the world couldn't hide bad writing, but in this case there's no need. Daniels is adept at penning perceptive and evocative--yet not cloying--pieces. These songs get right to the heart without playing silly games.

    Not just well done, but greatly done. Daniels has the ear to know exactly how to sell her outstanding songs. She's put together a first-class album. Someone ought to take notice.


    Danko Jones
    Danko Jones EP
    (Sonic Unyon)
    reviewed in issue #158, 5/4/98

    Basic, exuberant rawk. Disjointed as all hell, but still compelling. The songs revolve around the exhortations of the singer (no band credits in the liners), a guy who sounds like he¹s trying out for the MC5.

    The music follows in the same vein. Sludgy, driving riffs that never let up. The jerky style is a bit off-putting at first, but once I found the groove and settled in, the ride was fine.

    Retroid as hell, but still amusing. A nice little pick-me-up for a blue day.


    Danzig
    Danzig III - How the Gods Kill
    (Def American-Warner)
    reviewed in issue #18, 8/15/92

    Okay, so I'm one of those fools who thinks Glenn Danzig hasn't done anything useful since the disintegration of the Misfits all those years ago. But he comes close here.

    Certainly the best of the Danzig albums (the stupidity of the first and incoherence of the second are not present here). Musically, the band has coalesced it's sound into a more definite time and place (say, May 1980 in Seattle). Still listening to too much Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton, but you can almost taste the beginnings of today's ugly Athens-acne case.

    As for the lyrics, well, they aren't quite as dumb as in the past, so Glenn scores points there as well. I don't know if four stars is right (especially when the same RS issue gave the Poster Children two stars for an album that was released almost a year ago), but life rolls. And Danzig gets more and more popular. Many worse things could happen.


    Thrall-Demonsweatlive
    (Def American)
    reviewed in issue #35, 5/31/93

    Thrall is a set of three studio tracks. The first two sound just like the Danzig you know (and love, I assume). The third, "Trouble", is a cover of a song I think Elvis did first. I'm a little hazy on that particular part of rock history, but I know most of his early stuff was written by the team of Leiber and Stoller, who penned this thing.

    The Live (Demonsweat, if you must) has four songs, all sounding amazingly like the studio stuff. The way live stuff gets cleaned up these days makes it sound like the studio track with crowd noise pumped in (and I think that's exactly what Vanilla Ice did on his last thing, like you care). Glenn always shouts, and there are signs of some overdubs. Oh well, that's the biz.


    Danzig 4
    (American)
    reviewed in issue #63, 9/30/94

    It really is fruitless to try and review Danzig from a musical standpoint. After all, since the beginning all the band has done is rehash Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and other seventies axe-heavy outfits while Glenn spewed his malevolent silliness.

    The more important question is can we still believe this persona? Glenn Danzig as the embodiment of evil, or at least an icon of the same? Does it wash?

    He has the posturing; that's for sure. And the music is entertaining, if nothing spectacular. After all, this is an entertainment industry. And if things get a little silly, well, try and remember that a band called Soul Asylum used to known as a hard rock band.

    I digress. Glenn Danzig was once a hardcore horror hero. Now he's a metal pinup. The music (including lyrics) may be some of the silliest recorded, but the kids like it. If you fall for the romantic fantasy, dig in. If not, then chill out and listen to something else. Why harp?


    Daredevils
    Hate You CD5
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #106, 4/15/96

    Brett Gurewitz has finally gotten tired of just running the most successful punk label in the universe. So he put together this band, made up of a few survivors from the L.A. scene.

    Perfectly catchy pop stuff (with oddly mean lyrics). Gurewitz's voice sounds odd on top of two songs that are unmistakably his. This does sound like Bad Religion with a new lead singer. And his voice is fairly weak, which doesn't really help move the songs along.

    Gurewitz still hasn't rediscovered the fire (the lack of which plagued his--and Greg Graffin's--later songwriting with Bad Religion). This is fine for someone who hasn't written such punk classics as "You" and "Walk Away". But Mr. Brett has a past to live up to, and this doesn't quite cover. But it's also only two songs. Let's see what the forthcoming album (due in the fall) has to say.

    See also Bad Religion.


    Darediablo
    Feeding Fenzy
    (Southern)
    reviewed in issue #245, September 2003

    Remember that great British hard rock from the early 70s? Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and all that? This unconventional trio (guitar, drums and keyboards) replicate those thick, fuzzy sounds and actually improve on them.

    First, there are no vocals. This means that the riffage (be it guitar, organ or whatever) has center stage. Second, it means that the music never slacks off for a moment. These boys know they've got to keep the pedal to the metal just to keep these songs together.

    Man, what a rush. The inspiration may be 30 years old, but the execution is ultra modern. Darediablo isn't afraid to bring things down a notch in decidedly non-hard rock ways, and it's also quite happy to throw in all sorts of quirky thoughts into the mix. Loud, heavy and damned creative. Quite the combo.

    Yeah, it helps to have a soft spot for cheesy hard rock. But Darediablo is inventive enough to impress even the most jaded critic. This stuff is not just technically brilliant, it's a big wad of fun as well. Now, where the hell's my lighter...


    Twenty Paces
    (Southern)
    reviewed in issue #261, February 2005

    SAT nostalgia time: another analogy. If Capillary Action represents the pleasant, rounded edges side of geek rock, Darediablo is the band on the edge. This trio takes the Trans Am vision and then burns holes in every expectation.

    This is music that excites on all levels. There's the visceral rush of the riffage, which is consistently awe-inspiring. And then there are the softly-spoken lines in the background, the stuff that is worth pondering for an age or two. Some albums simply scream "Listen to me again and again" from the first note. This is one of those.

    The sound is heavy and sharp, and the use of keyboards (a synth, I assume, as the keyboard sound morphs from organ to electric piano to a wide variety of artificial sounds as well) isn't a mollifier. Rather, these keys are played to their full effect, blistering holes in the ozone layer as they spread their destruction. The overall sound is so enthralling I simply cannot imagine anyone failing to be taken with it immediately.

    Yeah, but then, somehow, there are some people didn't like Pulp Fiction. Fuck 'em. This is one of those albums that ought to tear the ears off just about everyone. If there's a fault to be found here, I don't know where it is. Pretty damned fine.


    Dark Room Notes
    We Love You Dark Matter
    (Gonzo Records)
    reviewed in issue #309, August 2009

    Take the patented New Order electronic sound and apply it to a more traditional indie rock construction. Dark Room Notes uses guitars, keyboards, a bounding bass and drum machines about as well as anyone, and the songs are bright and buoyant.

    The key to this type of songwriting is to keep things simple. Don't get tricky; simply focus on the groove and let everything flow from that. Dark Room Notes does wander into a bit of electronic experimentation from time to time, but by and large it keeps its collective ear on the prize.

    The sound is nothing new, and in truth, I wish the band had worked a bit harder to find its own niche. This sounds just like New Order, even if the songwriting is in a different style. There are a myriad of ways to make small changes and create a more unique sound. Perhaps Dark Room Notes will do that in the future.

    Of course, this is a tried-and-tested sound, and the band does it well. The songs are well-crafted, and the album romps by almost effortlessly. Solid and fun.


    Darkest Hour
    So Sedated, So Secure
    (Victory)
    reviewed in issue #219, 7/16/01

    Blurring the line between extreme hardcore and death metal almost to incomprehension, Darkest Hour is probably best described as simply "mean." These songs rumble and thrash past with not so much as a passing glance.

    Cascading drum breaks and melodic lead guitar lines provide most of the easy access points. Past that, Darkest Hour delves into maelstromic washes of excess. Perhaps the songs could be centrifuged out, but I doubt it. This stuff is stuck in permanent solution.

    Which is not to say I don't like it. Quite the opposite. Darkest Hour isn't one of those bands that switches gear constantly. It's always pushing the pedal to the floor, and that sense of forward motion serves the sound well. Onward to the apocalypse, man.

    I'll follow. So what if this is pretty much an album of hoary rants? That works for me. I've bitten into the adrenaline wire and now I can't let go. Too much pleasure flowing into my veins.


    Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
    Cthulhu Strikes Back
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #82, 8/14/95

    Four guys who really dig H.P. Lovecraft ("Without whom we'd be singing lame love songs", the liners say) and, obviously Star Wars. I can empathize.

    The music is highly-polished punk-pop harmonized stuff, rather addictive and astonishingly accessible. And, much like a Christian rock band, there are notes on each song telling us what Lovecraft story (or merely a pithy paragraph on pretty much nothing) that we should read to understand the lyrics.

    The packaging is dead on, and the music is simply divine. This is fun3. Really. If you have this, then play it. If you don't, you simply must find it. Darkest of the Hillside Thickets must be heard to be believed. And once the sonic force has cruised your ear, then nothing can be done. The invasion is complete and you are helpless. That's how these things get started, anyway.


    Darkthrone
    A Blaze in the Northern Sky
    (Peaceville/Caroline)
    reviewed in issue #11, 4/15/92

    "Darkthrone plays unholy black metal exclusively." That's what the end of the liners says. And when they aren't going for the world speed record, they sound great. The "Satanic poetry and haunting chants" are the best part of the album. But when they keep it slow(er) and simple(r), they really excel. When they speed it up a lot, they sound rather generic.

    Cruise through this disc. There are some truly inspired moments. The opening of the album does have a Warrior Soul-like quality, but most of the rest of the thing ignores that stuff. Hey, if you're looking for pretty weird, possibly satanic, lyrics and cool music, this is the place.


    Transilvanian Hunger
    (Peaceville-Fierce)
    reviewed in issue #70, 2/14/95

    There are lots of reasons I can't take black metal seriously. For one, it's just damned silly. But then, you could say that about the origins of grindcore and death metal years ago. So there must be more.

    And there is. Unlike death metal and grindcore, black metal isn't a radical music change. Most of it is cheap thrash. In Darkthrone's case, it's cheap thrash sequenced by a cheap Casio. Or at least it sounds that way.

    For you who really like this stuff and know what I'm talking about, four of these songs were written by the infamous Count Grishnackh, who is still in jail for generally being a dick (and for murder, too, I think). Since the lyrics are in Norwegian, it's kinda hard to tell exactly what they're about.

    "Darkthrone is for all the evil in man." Um, okay.


    Jason Darling
    Underground
    (Surprise Truck)
    reviewed in issue #207, 10/30/00

    Acoustic guitar-driven rock, very much influenced by Neil Young. Jason Darling acknowledges as much with the first song, placing Young dead center in the piece.

    But the real link is the poetic way Darling expresses himself. The lyrics (and the guitar work, occasionally) don't always follow an obvious linear track. The stuff can get a bit expressionistic at times.

    The only way to make that work is for the poetry to resolve itself. In other words, the shit had better be good. And Darling is. He slings his songs with a easy intensity, the kind of delivery that's impossible to teach. He is his songs.

    Kinda cool when that sorta thing works out. There aren't many people who can pull off an ambitious set of songs like this. Hell, most wouldn't even try. Darling succeeds in spectacular fashion.


    Darlington
    Girltroversy
    (Last Beat Records)
    reviewed in issue #156, 4/6/98

    The latest in a line of pop culture-frenzied pop music. Nerf Herder, Size 14, you know the names. Darlington (previously known as Mess, not to be confused with The Mess). The first tune is "Jodie Foster", and there are also homages to Judy Jetson, espresso and Baltimore (well, the song doesn't actually mention the city, but whatever). Mostly there's songs about longing and loving and eating and crashing about with no particular destination in mind.

    The songs are breathless, crunchy trips through power pop land, with easy hooks and very basic songwriting. Sometimes the simplest things work the best.

    Oh yeah, and Darlington is not complicated at all. Strip away the odd esoteric reference and this is three chord heaven. Basic, but too solid to dismiss.

    Summer, summer, summer all year long. Stuff that will inspire folks to take a chainsaw to the roof of the Cavalier and spend a blissful topless summer. The sort of harmless anarchy that makes this world so much fun.


    Mess You Up
    (Melted)
    reviewed in issue #180, 4/12/99

    The boys are still on Last Beat, but this album comes out here. In lieu of liner notes or lyric sheets, per se, the guys simply included a glossary of all the hip phrasings they utilize.

    As in: "Gelatin: Jeffrey Dahmer's favorite snack". C'mon, these guys are fun and the riffs shine all night long. Yes, almost all of the songs concern weird segments of American culture (Marcia Brady, NASA, Christmas, etc.). That's the whole appeal.

    Clever? Definitely. Classy? No. Vulgar? You bet. Darlington has no sense of shame (the three--male--members of the band appear on the back cover in panties and curlers), and that's probably why I like this stuff so much. Silly and quite possibly inane, sure, but big-assed smiles all the way.

    And should we ask for more? Perhaps, but I'm not in the mood to do so. Nope. I'm just gonna turn it up a bit more and hit repeat. Smiles are always worth the effort.


    Split LP with Huntingtons
    (Melted)
    reviewed in issue #195, 2/14/00

    A couple of pop punk bands do the split album thing. They each cover one of the other's songs and then add seven or eight others.

    The Huntingtons are the poppier of the two, almost Queers-like in their bouncy hooks. There is, of course, a strong Ramones feel as well, but not so much as to get annoying. Cheap and easy, sure, but with a nice gooey filling.

    Darlington cleans up its act a bit (musically, anyway) with these tunes. There's a tribute to Donna A. of the Donnas, a nod to the Ramones with "Pogo Beach" and then lots more of what Darlington does best. I do wish there was a bit more guitar (that sound is a bit thin), but the songs are as tight as ever.

    Perhaps cotton candy isn't filling, but it's sure a load of fun to eat. Likewise, these two bands aren't the most adventurous around, but they sure know how to knock out a hook or few.


    Dartz!
    This Is My Ship
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #292, December 2007

    Perky mathy stuff, with some nice dorky hooks to go along with the technical riffage. The playing is precise, but the spirit is loose.

    I like that, myself. This is the sort of sound that appeals to folks who like to think of themselves as intellectual, but in real life would much rather pound some beers. That's me straight down the line.

    There are lots of interesting things going on within the musical lines. Dartz! doesn't play anything straight, and there's plenty to discover within the layers. In the end, though, there's this joyful vibe that's hard to shake.

    Don't know why you'd want to shake it, though. Joyous music is hard enough to come by as it is. And if there's some serious heft tagging along for the ride, well, that's pretty much irresistible to me. Fun for all centers of the brain.


    Dash Rip Rock
    Tiger Town
    (Doctor Dream)
    reviewed in issue #45, 11/30/93

    There are few absolute truths in this life, but one of them is never miss a Dash Rip Rock show. If you haven't been following this admonishment, then get with the program.

    This is their first release for Doctor Dream (they were most recently on Mammoth), but they share the one characteristic I've heard from DD artists: good songwriting.

    Whether the inflection is C&W, punk or just plain pop, DRR tear through the patterns to create a whole new suit. And this is no exception to their career so far. Some bands are best described as bar bands. The kind of band that plays music you think you've heard before, but in fact the music is so infectious you just don't realize it's original. When you're sloshing around in front of the stage with a beautiful girl, and the bands seems to read your mind and play a song like "True Drunk Love".

    That's why you never miss a Dash Rip Rock show.


    Nick Dastardly and the Escape Artists
    Let Go of My Bruised Wing
    (Parachute Entertainment)
    reviewed in issue #170, 10/26/98

    Speaking of using backbeat and harmonies to a cloying effect. Well, actually, there isn't much in the way of harmonies, but still. This is right down that Blues Traveler-Hootieman-etc. alley.

    The songs have rather intriguing titles (they're all quite long--see the album title for an example), but what lies within generally doesn't live up to the hype. And let's just say I'm not the biggest fan of blown up roots music.

    Which is too bad, probably. Dastardly (or whoever) has a good voice, slightly raspy when he needs some edge, and the band is more than solid. The sound is good, bringing out the right parts at the right time. It just...

    I don't particularly like acoustic guitars with my backbeats, y'know? It sound arbitrary, I'm sure, but that's just how it is. I can't dig it, man.


    Data Cadet
    Life*Pod 7"
    (Westside Audio Laboratories)
    reviewed in issue #152, 2/9/98

    Languid, but still rockin', noise stuff, replete with whorls and squelches of distortion and lots of fine riffage. Goofy and intense, with plenty of punch.

    Kinda like listening to a radio station which keeps going in and out of phaze between a radio station playing Space Streakings and another playing some 70s lite rock. Each is just out of range, sometimes bleeding into each other and sometimes utterly fading to black, with an omnipresent layer of white noise coloring everything.

    Wonderfully disturbing fare, completely askew from the normal, acceptable standards of society. There comes a time when lunatic rantings begin to make sense. We just might have reached that point.


    Daubert & Holcombe
    Lennon, More than a MemoryCD5
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #196, 3/6/00

    Just yer basic tribute song, aping the style of the object of affection and working in as many references to his works as possible.

    The synthesized production is lush, but the processed horns and strings are a bit tinny. As for the song itself, it sounds like a generic John Lennon song. That might be the aim.

    I wish the song was more personal, that it gave a few reasons why the writers love Lennon so much. This is more of a mass market kitsch run.


    Daver
    PopArt
    (Modern Relic)
    reviewed in issue #193, 12/20/99

    I got this CD in an LP sleeve. Sez it's the compact disc version of the double LP. There certainly are enough songs and enough time. And despite the some what whimsical cover, the music is a lot more subdued.

    Is that the right word? Dunno. What this isn't is effervescent and silly. The songs have a contemplative bent and the lyrics tend toward the serious. Oh, there's a little sarcasm here and there, but this is more in the grand statements sorta realm.

    And it works well enough there. This is fairly strong lyrically. I do wish a little more attention had been paid to the music, but it hasn't been shortchanged too much. Even if the results don't always measure up to the ambition, Daver does fine.

    And that's really the deal. This doesn't bowl me over, but it's pretty good. I'm all for ambition. Even when it isn't fully realized, ambition means the artist is working his ass off. That does show.


    Dave's True Story
    Sex Without Bodies
    (Chesky Records)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    The "alternative" bands at the forefront of the whole loungecore movement (a term I despise, by the way) seem to think that the idea is to play mellow music with horns and hope the listeners are too drunk on their martinis to notice that they're merely purveying schlock. Which is too bad, because some of the most talented songwriters of this century wrote songs that have been cast in this sound. I mean, if you want to say that Billy Corgan is a better lyricist than Cole Porter, fine, but don't run into me after I've had a couple beers.

    That tangential extended introduction is my way of saying that Dave's True Story understands that mellow, pseudo-jazzy music doesn't have to be insipid. The lyrics are clever and evocative, delivered by Kelly Flint's versatile alto. Not husky, but plenty of verve. The Dave in question is David Cantor, who wrote all the songs (with the exception of a cover of "Walk on the Wild Side") and played a sly guitar.

    The songs run from spare arrangements to full lush orchestrations, but what always sparkles are the lyrics. These songs really aren't even aimed at the current trendy lounge crowd. I mean, how many of them would recognize the reference in the song "I'll Never Read Trollope Again"?

    Truly sophisticated, even as the lyrics undercut that high life with biting sarcasm. In other words, great stuff. Intimidating, challenging and glorious. There's nothing even close.


    David Wax Museum
    Everything Is Saved
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #325, March 2011

    David Wax is half this duo, but Suz Slezak more than holds up her half of the partnership. Together, they make some of the most joyous, unselfconscious americana I've heard in ages.

    The folk is real folk from Mexico and the U.S., not some ersatz coffee house sorta stuff. These songs were written to be played. Played with an almost unimaginable amount of verve.

    The album sounds like it was recorded live in a hall of some sort. There's a bit of echo in the drums and vocals. I don't know exactly how this came together, but I sure like the result. It's easy to see how the band's live shows have already become the stuff of legend.

    Live, the Museum is a much fuller outfit. More raucous. More fun, even if that's hard to imagine. The first track starts somewhat conventionally, but it morphs into the bounding wonder that this album becomes. Even when introspective, it is hard to contain the wonder. Fabulous stuff.


    Guy David
    Legend Music EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #219, 7/16/01

    On the cover, he's billed as "Non DJ" Guy David, but I figured I'd list this under his regular name. Call me anal or whatever. David may not be a DJ, but he does traffic in electronic music. Panoramic dry techno, to be more specific.

    Very much from the German school. The sound is about as artificial as you can get. I'm not complaining; I'm just describing. In fact, David has a real nice feel for this kinda stuff. The lines move in abstract ways, with his beats keeping the pieces together.

    Real nice. Four songs that fit together well without sounding alike. David does have a nice handle on this sound, and he knows how to put his own music together. Fine work.


    Dave Davies
    Unfinished Business 2xCD
    (Velvel/BMG)
    reviewed in issue #174, 12/28/98

    The first disc is a set of "Kinks Kronikles". The second is a set of "Solo Kronikles". The first set includes a few early hits (including "You Really Got Me"), but most of it focuses on later works or latter-day live recordings of the hits, though skipping such songs as "Lola" and "Come Dancing". Actually, that's fine with me. The hits are easy to find.

    Quite honestly, though, the amazing thing is that Dave Davies has been able to sustain a career all this time at all. Or that the Kinks, who did have a hell of a run in the mid 60s, still tour and sell out shows. As anyone who has heard a Kinks album in the last 15 years will tell you, there's not much to hear. Generic is a kind word.

    The Kinks were heroes of the garage sound, and when they learned how to properly speak and play their instruments, well, they lost the only thing they had going for them: Their ragged energy.

    Listening to the "solo" disc is almost embarrassing. The stuff is so dull, even when Davies manages to howl. Hey, I dig those old Kinks songs as much as anyone. "Lola" maybe be the best rock song ever (it's certainly in the running). But there are plenty of places to find the good stuff. There's too much filler here.


    Matt Davignon
    Music at 1/2 Speed
    (Edgetone)
    reviewed in issue #253, May 2004

    Matt Davignon was just sitting around, bored off his ass (I'm extrapolating ehre, of course), when he decided to pop a 4-track into a regular cassette player. Whoa! The mind boggled. He reached back, found these recordings from the mid-90s and mastered them to half speed.

    Instead of the Chipmunks, we have the Narwhals. Or something like that. Some of these pieces were experimental to begin with. It relatively easy to pick those out. They make no sense at all. But there are a few former pop songs in there, and those turn out so damned cool. You can imagine what these things might sound like at speed (making them an octave or two higher in pitch).

    I dunno. Maybe I'm just a jaded music critic who latches on to anything that doesn't sound "normal." But I think Davignon is really on to something here. Slow down songs, and you start to really delve into their inner secrets. That or, as I noted, I'm simply trying to justify the preferences of my burned-out brain.

    Nah, this stuff is great. Once you get a load of the blown-out harmonica in track two, you'll agree. This album is an experience that never fails to excite.


    Living Things
    (Edgetone)
    reviewed in issue #315, March 2010

    I suppose you might call this a concept album; every piece is named after something that is alive, be it mold, a snowshoe hare or a mesonychoteuthis. That last one, by the way, is the Colossal (not giant) Squid. It's big.

    And this album is big, too. Davignon processed it through a drum machine, but the sounds here are melodic as well as rhythmic. Suffice it to say, though, that the relation of the piece to its title can sometimes seem a bit abstract.

    But listen all the way through. Hear what Davignon does. I'd hesitate to call this experimental--the song structures aren't entirely obtuse--but it does reside comfortably in the avant garde. Nonetheless, these are not improvisations. Davignon obviously had a plan when he recorded each song, and I'd say he executed marvelously.

    Patience is necessary, of course, but it will be rewarded many times over. Let the pieces wash over you, ponder the titles if you wish and then see where your mind has wandered. You'll be most pleased with the result.


    Duf Davis + the Book Club
    Shut Up and Detune Your Guitar
    (Orange Entropy)
    reviewed in issue #190, 11/1/99

    The title does have some bearing on the sound of the album. The guitars are acoustic, and they're not always immaculately tuned. In fact, they're often used to a jangly ukelele effect.

    It works. I mean, I can't really believe it, but this sometimes utterly bizarro strumming thing really works. Vocals or no, the songs manage to convey some truly intense messages. In fact, the non-lyric-bearing songs are rather more intense.

    Alright, this isn't Jim O'Rourke picking, but actually, the disorienting effect is in the same ballpark. The sometimes less-than-tuned guitars can get spooky, and certainly, the sound can get violent. Really, I mean that. There's some heavy stuff here.

    It just keeps burbling out. Davis says he only releases this stuff to satisfy his need for attention. Well, the songs deserve it. This is wacked stuff, sure, but vital in its rage. Betcha never heard acoustic guitars sound so menacing.


    Murdertainment
    (Orange Entropy)
    reviewed in issue #214, 4/2/01

    Another set of deceptively menacing songs from Duf Davis and friends. The vaguely-tuned acoustic guitar is still strummed to strange effect. I still get a little creeped out by the whole thing.

    That's good, because I think that's what Davis wants. He's not trying to make happy, cheery music here. He's trying to express a number of different ideas, and his hyperkinetic strumming helps to get those thoughts across.

    Really, though, the star here is writing. Davis has a warped way of penning lyrics, and he and his pals then paint some of the more intriguing musical pictures you'll ever hear.

    Some folks might find Davis' idiosyncrasies a bit off-putting. Annoying or aggravating, even. Life goes on. I really like the way Davis and friends express themselves. Period.


    Geater Davis
    The Lost Soul Man 2xCD
    (AIM International)
    reviewed in issue #275, June 2006

    The term "soul music" means many things to many people. Most folks can agree on Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye. After that, well, you get in trouble.

    Geater Davis is from the second generation. He uses plenty of rock and blues in his songs, and he's not afraid to shift from Muscle Shoals-esque horns to electric piano jams. What carries through every song is his utterly pure voice. Listen for two seconds, and there's no doubt he's a true soul man.

    He's something of a growler and a wailer, not unlike Edwin Starr or, more correctly, Bobby Womack. These are songs of love and loss--and more loss than love, to be sure. If Davis had been 20 years older, he would have been a blues man. His songs still retain many blue touches, but by and large he remains committed to the soul side of the tracks.

    These songs date from 1970 until Davis's death in 1984. As the liners note, he was making his music during a time that didn't want to hear it. If he'd managed to last just a few more years, he might've seen some daylight toward the end of the 80s, when soulful bluesmen like Robert Cray scraped some success. Nonetheless, we've got the songs here. And they're something to behold.


    Davis Waits
    The Evolution Of...
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #187, 8/30/99

    A band, by the way. Playing the songs of Ken Kunin (Kunin does the singing and plays guitar, too). Some of the pieces are from Kunin's solo album and from his previous band, Jet Jaguar. These are new recordings, I think. In any case, they are new to me.

    But I wish they weren't. This stuff, something in that electronic-tinged California roots rock phase. Kunin has a knack for writing off-the-cuff choruses which wiggle straight into your head. They don't leave.

    Not that I mind. Not in the least. These are great songs, heavy with cynicism but buoyed by moments of guarded optimism. I can identify with that approach to life. Maybe that's why I'm so knocked out by these songs.

    Or maybe, just maybe, this stuff is really great. I've got enough objectivity to say that the latter is probably true. Davis Waits (or whatever it is Kunin is doing) plunks down a large set of incisive and insightful tunes. With just enough of a commercial edge to be attractive to the regular set. An altogether enrapturing set.

    See also Ken Kunin.


    Dawn
    Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)
    (Necropolis)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    Produced at Peter Tagtgren's Abyss studios, these Swedes show that black metal isn't necessarily crap. Slaughtersun doesn't quite out do the fine work Tagtgren has done with the Abyss (a sidelight of his Hypocrisy duties), but it's pretty damned good.

    Sounds a lot like Iron Maiden playing black metal, without much keyboard interference. The drums eternally cascade and the guitars whipsaw through a series of triplet runs. Really loud? Yep. Nutcrushing? Sure. A complete and utter adrenaline rush? Abso-fuckin-lutely.

    Adherents to the original black metal ideal will cringe at the thought of, say, songwriting or the acoustic interlude "To Achieve the Ancestral Powers". Actually, Dawn sounds a lot more like latter-day Hypocrisy than anything else. Though that makes sense, and I'm not complaining too much.

    The sort of album that will appeal to more traditional metal fans. A sell out? More like an evolution. The ultimate extreme will always fall to the center. A musical law of entropy, or something like that. There's an old joke about inevitability, but I'd best not repeat it. Just sit back and enjoy.


    Day of Reckoning
    I'm Not a Strong Swimmer
    (Blood)
    reviewed in issue #66, 11/15/94

    Good melodic pop, at times as punchy as early Superchunk, but often mellow enough to just roll along.

    Folks speak of summer records, and this is one of those. There isn't the big standout track, just one upbeat sing-along tune after another. The kind of tape you throw in the deck and drive out to the beach with. Of course, it's still 85 degrees here, and there's only mile after mile of beach ten minutes away. Hmmm...

    Yes, DOR passed that field test. Perhaps not the most distinctive band, these boys have crafted some fine tunes that will make most anyone smile.


    Dazzling Killmen
    Medicine Me 7" and comic book
    (Skin Graft)
    reviewed in issue #32, 4/15/93

    A brutally intense band live (take Helmet and pump the adrenaline a bunch). The a-side is a real mess, with a ton of noise and absolutely no direction. Fuckin' cool.

    The b-side is a P.I.L. cover, and everything seems to be in slow motion. Personally, I've heard these guys do much better live, but I'm not complaining. As for the comic book: completely tasteless art combined with irresponsible story lines.

    If I didn't get this sent to me, I woulda bought two (but feel free to keep sending 'em!).


    Face of Collapse
    (Skin Graft-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #51, 3/31/94

    Perhaps the one band that Steve Albini can produce perfectly. The minimalist approach Albini takes to everything but guitars captures the pure sonic intensity of a Dazzling Killmen show.

    And if you have been privileged enough to catch one, you know how manic they can be. Leave you in a cold sweat. I first saw them open for Poster Children, and the Poster Kids were rather impressed as well.

    Yeah, some say grindcore is the most extreme form of music around. But Dazzling Killmen matches up very well against such sonic disrupters as Zeni Geva, and if you think that because you can hear space between the instruments this is weak, don't be silly.

    They will never be mainstream, but Dazzling Killmen is destined to be legendary.


    Recuerda
    (Skin Graft)
    reviewed in issue #121, 10/21/96

    The final word on one of the best bands in recent history. When I heard of the band's demise soon after the release of Face of Collapse, I was seriously bummed. This only makes the wounds worse, because genius resides in its collection of singles, compilation tracks and live takes of tracks from the very hard-to-find first album.

    And as amazing as the throbbing buzzsaw musical world of Dazzling Killmen can be when recorded, the real joy was watching (and hearing) the guys play live. The energy was positively contagious. No one I knew walked away from a show disappointed.

    And now we're left with a final reminder of how great this band really was. The music still sounds current, and almost any band today would love to be able to put out a set of songs with this much power. Sure, the live tracks are not recorded as well as they could have been (the sound is a bit flat, but not terrible), and a couple of the other tracks don't quite measure up. This disc testifies to the greatness that was Dazzling Killmen.

    I called it way back when, and I'm happy to have more folks on my side today. All hail Dazzling Killmen.

    See also Brise-Glace, Gastr del Sol, Yona-Kit and You Fantastic.


    dB Function
    Wrong CD5
    (Syntax)
    reviewed in issue #190, 11/1/99

    You know the Bernard Sumner track on the latest Chemical Brothers album? dB Function sure does. The title track is nothing if not a similar updating of the New Order sound. Highly infectious and terribly sterile. In a good way.

    Which makes the second song almost inexplicable. It's a basic pop song without much of a chorus or hooks in general. Just psychedelic emo guitar licks and something which sound very much like... real drums. Is this the same band?

    I guess. It IS the same single. The voice does sound right both times, but everything else is different. Except, of course, that both songs are pretty fucking cool. Maybe it is the same band.


    DC to Daylight
    Xmas Murder '74 EP
    (Urban Cheese)
    reviewed in issue #239, March 2003

    Talk about riding the bottom end. DC to Daylight rocks out a series of fine r&b riffs and then turns the whole sound pyramid upside-down. All the fuzz is in the bass, which makes the uptempo attack that pervades this disc even more astonishing.

    Think the last Laughing Hyenas album, or maybe something from the Delta 72. And then add a bizarre sense of humor (the pseudo-ska beat and Jimmy Buffett-style organ in "My Way to Hell" ought to clash blindingly with the rest of the album, but the song becomes something of a touchstone nonetheless) and then simply let these boys roll.

    In all honesty, this short piece of mutant music speaks for itself. I can try to describe what I hear, but in no way can I capture the strange appeal of these songs. One note (seriously!) and I was hooked. Even more impressively, the disc tightened its grip as it played. Compelling doesn't even begin to tell the story.


    Christoph De Babalon
    If You're Into It, I'm Out of It
    (Digital Hardcore)
    reviewed in issue #170, 10/26/98

    The sort of music I'm used to getting from the Cold Meat Industry label. de Babalon crafts intricate electronic soundscapes, full of re-engineered sounds, washes of distortion and the occasional implied melody. Oh, yeah, and some of that killer hardcore electronic percussion work.

    The best part about the disc is its diversity. The tracks do not sound alike in any way, shape or form. There is a spirit of experimentation and adventure here that is generally lacking in most works. De Babalon is not afraid to try new things or to put those attempts down on tape.

    I simply enjoyed letting the songs track down, hearing what would flow next. The influences come from all over the electronic and gothic landscape (gothic like Brighter Death Now, just so you understand what I'm talking about here) and are merged into a nice quilt of sound.

    Almost too much. This is an album of uncompromising vision and power. Mainline it and see what happens.


    Lisa DeBenedictis
    Tigers
    (Magnatune)
    reviewed in issue #272, March 2006

    For those who don't know, Magnatune is one of those newfangled online labels. The folks have an interesting idea. Check it out. As for Lisa DeBenedictis, she's got some interesting thoughts of her own.

    One is that lots of synthesizers go well with a folk sensibility. Maybe she's been listening to some of the more recent Emmylou Harris albums. In any case, I'm apparently one of the few who found the slightly sterile sound of this album bracing. Kinda like a cool amalgamation of new wave and folk.

    As for the songs themselves, they're far-reaching beasts. There's a lot more going on here than navel-gazing. Rather, DeBenedictis tries to find some answers to important questions. I'm not convinced she does every time, but since she always shows her work, I'm happy.

    This one sneaks up on you slowly. Let it. And then roll with the waves. Most intriguing.


    Mike DeLaCerda
    American Gypsy
    (Vision)
    reviewed in issue #257, September 2004

    Mike DeLaCerda sounds an awful lot like Jimi Hendrix. His voice, that is. His guitar is pure white-boy blues--well, as white as Buddy Guy, I suppose. DeLaCerda does bow to convention and construct most of his songs along blues 'n' boogie lines--definitely on the rock 'n' side of the divide--but his playing has soul to spare.

    And then there comes some like "Tribute to George Harrison," which is as fine a guitar noise composition as I've heard in a while. It doesn't sound a whole lot like Harrison, even when he's borrowing a bit from the Dark Horse, but it is inspired nonetheless.

    What I like is the ringing tone he gets on his guitar. He's not afraid to play loud or heavy or anything like that, but his playing always dances rather than pummels. For me, that's the key difference between rock and blues. Both can be exceptional, of course, and both are inextricably intertwined, but there are differences. At the heart of things, DeLaCerda proves himself a bluesman.

    And an accomplished player and songwriter. He does have a few covers here (including an interesting take on "Are You Experienced?"), but his songs shine as well. DeLaCerda has obviously put in his dues. Now he's ready to roll.


    Dead By Dawn
    After I Eat Your Brains
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #126, 1/13/97

    Merging a grunge drone and glam whine with really silly lyrics, Dead By Dawn almost manages to capture my imagination. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite over-the-top enough.

    The music is pretty damned near insipid, really. I know, I know, grunge is a man's music, and I shouldn't bitch about it, but these faux-Iommi riffs have been getting on my nerves for a while now.

    Like I noted, though, a saving grace is this odd tendency to warp into a glam metal groove every now and again. And, of course, the lyrics are completely retarded, which also helps. I mean, if you can't do anything else, laugh.

    For a self-produced disc, this sounds really great. Everything is sharp and in focus, which probably is a detriment, because I can hear exactly what the band tried to do (all that stuff I didn't like). Almost fun; almost enough.


    Dead Fly Boy
    Self-Titled Debut (advance cassette)
    (Sector II-Futurist)
    reviewed in issue #50, 3/15/94

    I can see Beavis & Butthead bobbing and weaving, going "this is cool." It is catchy, but I'm kinda tired of this particular guitar sound right now.


    Dead Fucking Last
    Proud to Be
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #81, 7/31/95

    I can't recall Epitaph ever releasing an old-school NYC hardcore disc before, but then, perhaps the fact that bassist Adam (Adrock) Horovitz co-produced the studio tracks had something to do with it.

    By the way, I guess you have to refer to the band as DFL on the radio. Oh well. But now to a real dissection of the contents therein.

    Well, phrases like "a sloppy Murphy's Law" come to mind. This doesn't suck, so don't accuse me of slagging the disc, but DFL isn't exactly at the forefront of the hardcore movement, either.

    I personally liked the last track, "What's the Difference", an interesting deconstruction of hardcore itself. And the rest of the disc is decent fluff, but certainly nothing more. Plenty of snotty attitude to pass a sunny Sunday, but no meat and potatoes. Yeah, this is a sure-thing sales-wise, but the music is passable, too. Ignore celebrity status and make up your own mind.


    Grateful..
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #132, 4/14/97

    I suppose the most amusing notation on the package is the DFL web site. For one of the most lo-fi (and generally low class) hardcore outfits around, this is simply too much.

    Impossibly sloppy, and with a truly maddening feature: all 16 song consist of one track on the CD. So people like me can't simply skip through the bastard when we tire of one rant or another.

    Anyone who's curious can find out the superstar connection to this band (it's pretty obvious just listening, really). Like I said when the last album appeared, I can't find a whole lot of reasons to buy this.

    It's not that I'm against utterly messy hardcore, but on top of the musical hamburger, DFL doesn't have a damned thing to say. Punk for punk's sake, though I have to say the Red Aunts do this sort of thing so much better. I can't think of anyone who does it worse.


    Dead Heart Bloom
    Fall In EP
    (KEI)
    reviewed in issue #299, August 2008

    Sumptuous rock and roll, played with solid orchestral backing through the occasional scrim of distortion. The sort of sonic perfection that stops the heart. Over and over again.

    Dead Heart Bloom is releasing three EPs in the near future, and this is the first. God help us all. If the next two are as good as this one, the combination of the three might be more than civilization can handle.

    Anyone who can channel Bowie, early U2 and My Bloody Valentine--in the same song--deserves plenty of attention. Brace yourselves. There might be new heroes in the big rock game. The next two EPs will tell the story.


    Oh Mercy EP
    (KEI)
    reviewed in issue #301, October 2008

    The second of three Dead Heart Bloom EPs scheduled for release this year. This set finds the boys deep into Bauhaus/Black Sabbath/Cure territory. Not sure what territory that might be? Think lurching, oft-snarky pieces with stellar fuzzy riffage.

    This is, of course, a somewhat different sound than Fall In, and I dig it just as much. Dead Heart Bloom is obviously all about power, and it seems to know a thousand ways to deal it.

    Not many folks trust rock and roll enough to go all out like this. Fabulous. I await the final chapter with baited breath.


    In Chains EP
    (KEI)
    reviewed in issue #304, February 2009

    Dead Heart Bloom finishes up its triple EP cycle in style, meandering off into even more genres unknown. I said it a year ago, and now that I've heard the full run I remain convinced: These three EPs make for one hell of an album.

    The EP form has allowed for a bit more experimentation, of course. This one is more rooted in the early 70s. A bit of Nick Drake here, a bit of Big Star there. In fact, "Halfway Gone," the middle track and centerpiece of this set, reminds me a lot of what it might sound like if Elton John had tried his hand at an Alex Chilton piece back in 1973. The sound is lush, but the melodies are tight and inviting.

    Pretty cool stuff. I don't know where these guys are going next, but I'm with them all the way.


    Dead Horse
    Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers
    (Big Chief)
    reviewed in issue #1, 10/31/91

    As with any band on Big Chief, after you first hear Dead Horse, you cock your head and sort of turn it sideways. Then you realize all is not normal. Sure, there are very rough vocals, almost death-style, but the rhythm section has it together. And although it is close to grindcore, there is much too much sense of melody in the riffs and lead work.

    Some of my reporters have already discovered these guys. Good for you! This is a really fun album. Folks at my station are wearing out their cover of "Rock Lobster" (along with "the Pee-Wee Herman Rap" and, oh, some other song as the three tunes I would never dance to in high school). Finally a decent version! Awe-inspiring cuts: "Cod Piece Face," "Like Asrielle," "Snowdogs," "Alpo" and of course the B-52s cover.


    Dead Industry
    Born of Creation
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #128, 2/17/97

    Apocalyptic, industrial death metal. Sounds a lot like Dead World, except without the little things. Those little things mean a lot.

    The sound is just a little overly sequencer driven. A little sponteneity help, especially at the slow speed of the songs. In general, the music is decent, if nondescript. The lyrics need a good bit a work to rise above the middling range. Of the three tunes, the third, "Spineless", is easily the best. There's some real good work there.

    One bright point in the overal package is the production, which is well above demo quality. And "Spineless" is good enough to show some potential. Lots of work is needed, though.


    Dead Meadow
    Dead Meadow
    (Tolotta)
    reviewed in issue #209, 12/11/00

    Let's see. The song titles are things like "Sleepy Silver Door" and "Dragonfly Lady" and "At the Edge of the World." Is that stoner rock, dude? Well turn it up!

    To Dead Meadow's credit, the only bit the band seriously cribbed is the fuzz-laden sound. In fact, one thing that's missing is serious guitar pyrotechnics. There's not even a lot of singing. Just a few ponderous musings, separated by the odd vocal bit.

    And unlike most other bands in this genre, Dead Meadow has worked hard to make its sound as hypnotic and engaging as possible. I mean, these songs work. They're extraordinarily simple in construction, and the production is pretty damn basic as well, but that works.

    I really can't imagine a more stripped-down approach to stoner rock. But then, I haven't enjoyed such an album as much as this one in quite some time. Just let the chords roll on through.


    Dead Orchestra
    Sounds Like Time Tastes
    (Choke Hit)
    reviewed in issue #46, 1/15/94

    Technical deathly thrash, the kind Europeans and a select few Americans still get off on.

    With 18 songs, you have plenty to choose from. All are fairly tasty, but some just jump out right from the title. "Satan Loves Me", "Attack of the 500 Foot Hippie", "Lesson 39 on How to Annoy" and "Five Young Vikings" prove that a sense of humor is always in vogue.

    Right now, the only way to get this stateside is straight from the band in Wichita, but hopefully a deal will be forthcoming. Their last album was available in the U.S. on New Renaissance, which as we all know took a dive some time ago. If they haven't gotten this to you yet, be sure to give the good folk a call.


    Dead Rat Orchestra
    The Guga Hunters of Ness
    (Critical Heights)
    reviewed in issue #338, June 2012

    There's the whole rootsy/americana thing, and there's the whole drone/soundscape thing. Dead Rat Orchestra brings traditional instrumentation into an area that has long been dominated by electronics, and the results are stunning.

    Americana isn't the worst description of the rootsy flavors of this band, but since these folks hail from England perhaps we might find another word. Choose your own, I say. The name of the band fits very well, though, as these conceptual pieces have a strong orchestral feel to them.

    Slowly, with intent, each of these pieces comes to life. This is not an album for the attention-deficient. This is an album for contemplation and rumination. And then, just when you think you might have wandered a bit too deeply into the frontal lobes, there are double shots of beauty.

    All told, one utterly original effort. You won't hear another album like it this year. That alone recommends it to me, but for those who need more, I'll vouch for the quality as well. Slow down long enough to enjoy this, and you'll be well rewarded.


    Dead Red Sea
    Birds
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #223, 10/15/01

    Gently rolling emo. Dead Red Sea lolls around, slowly churning out duly satisfying songs. Very deliberate, but that in no way takes away from the joy of these pieces.

    The song construction is simple and direct. Almost in the realm of alt. country singer-songwriters, though the sound itself is still straight emo: Vaguely atonal guitars, less-than-perfect vocals, strident rhythms.

    Makes for a good mix. Dead Red Sea veers from influence to influence, depending on the needs of the song. The overall sound is thick and full; more of an emo feel. Which only makes sense.

    I like the way these songs have come together. It's hardly typical, but close enough to be comfortable. I surely would like to hear how these boys develop their ideas in the next couple of years. Could be most interesting.


    Dead Voices on Air
    Halfted Maul
    (Invisible)
    reviewed in issue #70, 2/14/95

    Only for the connoisseur. I'm a big fan of experimental sound construction, so I like this a lot. DVOA is Mark Spybey, a guy from Vancouver with apparently far too much time on his hands.

    Spybey keeps things fairly loose and unassuming. The samples come from everywhere, but rarely does one element drown out the rest.

    I can listen to this sort of thing for hours, trying to figure out how someone collected all the sounds and put them together the way they did. This is not mere experimentation; there is an attractive end product.

    But DVOA has no intentions of attracting even mainstream college listeners. You must be prepared, and if you are, you will be rewarded.


    New Words Machine
    (Hypnotic-Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #73, 3/31/95

    Back with his second selection of tape-loop noise in two months, Mark Spybey (with cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy on three tracks) creates six new sonic sculptures.

    The tracks on this set are more moody and less intense than those on halfted maul, but engaging nonetheless. As for Key's contribution, I can only guess. I don't hear much difference in the composition of the tracks on which he guests.

    Once again, a warning to those who may not be expecting this: Dead Voices on Air does not create nice little pieces of mind-numbing music. This is seriously experimental industrial noise, and you should adventure at your own risk. I'm taking the full safari tour, myself.


    Fast Falls the Eventide 2xCD
    (Lens)
    reviewed in issue #311, October 2009

    Mark Spybey has been making extremely experimental electronic music for more than 15 years. I reviewed a couple of his discs back in 1995, and now here's another set (the second disc is a re-issue of a G.R.O.S.S., a tape he put out in 1994).

    Even within the decidedly eclectic world of electronic experimentalists, Spybey is way out there. I saw him live back in the mid 90s, and I was underwhelmed. He can't do it all on stage, or, at least, he couldn't do it all back then. Put him in a studio, though, and the rules change.

    These are aggressively indulgent pieces, full of dissonance and a general sense of instability. One of Spybey's strengths is to bring together disparate sounds and ideas and somehow craft them into a coherent piece. Judging by this set, he's gotten a whole lot better at that over the years.

    This is some fine work, stuff that pushes up against (and might even occasionally cross) the frontiers of music. These ideas are not for the weak or simple minded, which is true for just about anything worth hearing. Exceptional.


    The Silent Wing LP
    (Tourette)
    reviewed in issue #320, September 2009

    Mark Spybey still has it. DVOA has been the gold standard in electronic experimentalism for almost two decades, and that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon. This album is much more introspective than last year's Fast Falls the Eventide, but to my ear that simply makes it more DVOA. It's oh-so-easy to simply fall into this album and never hit the ground. Lovely and intriguing.


    Dead World
    Collusion
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #19, 8/31/92

    Death/doom/industrial (as in machine head) for Dead-heds. The next time you've taken a dose and you don't want to listen to more MBV or Jefferson Airplane, put this disc on. It meshes well with the new Type O Negative. Both are so far out there you don't know if you can reel them in.

    Or, do you really want to? This is not radio-friendly music, although at KCOU we have two hours set aside every week for just this sort of in-house studio experimentation.

    While this doesn't always translate well to recorded material, bands like Einsturzende Neubauten and the aforementioned TON do a really good job of making me listen. And Dead World are pretty damn fine themselves. To define this sound would be to limit it, so I'll retract my earlier synopsis.

    I've noticed a lot of you tell me you really like the new Type O Negative, but it never shows up on your lists. The same can be said of My Dying Bride. Shame on you. You are being cultural elitists, saving the best music for only your ears. Hell, as college (or at least "alternative") loud music djs you should be playing the most extreme and innovative music around. Don't cop out.

    This is more than mere music; it is a true experience. Don't ignore this because it is different. Revel in it.


    Dead World 7"
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #37, 7/31/93

    I've heard many of the tracks from their upcoming album, and they are amazing. Side one here does what Godflesh used to do well: slam your head into a brick wall and pulverize your ears. Altogether vicious.

    The flip is a presentation of a great poem over chamber music. This is what I think Dead World does best. Make you distrust reality. Just when you think you know where you are, their music can strip away your perceptions and drive you to despair.

    Cool.


    The Machine
    (Release-Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #42, 10/31/93

    The Machine could refer to lots of things, not the least the absence of former drummer Greg Knoll, who is attending art school not a mile from where I lived in K.C. For an even weirder connection, his boss at the school's computer lab beat me out for a job at a printing service bureau.

    No hard feelings, especially when music like this is involved. Dead World has evolved from simply an industrial ambient group to more of the structured song type, best typified by the first track, "Cold Hate." I've had a tape of this album and other tracks for quite a while (a year?), and that song still brings chills.

    Hard-core brutality. Different but still the masters. Godflesh haven't dared do anything this heavy since Streetcleaner, and only Pitch Shifter could possibly do this well (can't wait for the new disc).

    Want real industrial death? There is no other choice than Dead World.


    This Will Hurt Someone EP
    (Release-Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #54, 5/15/94

    A nice four-song collection from Pennsylvania's industrial gods. The title track is the most club-ready thing they've released. The second track is some very nice noise work. Add in an edit of "The Machine" from the album of the same name and the "Dead World" track, previously only available on a 7" and a compilation, and you get the picture.

    What else can I say. I am completely in awe of what Dead World does. Maybe someone else out there will notice them, too.


    Dead Youth
    Intense Brutality
    (Grind Core)
    reviewed in issue #1, 10/31/91

    This is from the title track: Now I ride a BMX bike/ And mutilate young girls who I can find at night/ I'll pick up your daughter and show her my toy/ After I kill her she'll give birth to a boy.

    Not to call these boys misogynistic; let's just say misanthropic, shall we? The label describes the music, which is rather well-produced and pretty decently performed. You can't understand the lyrics when sung, so you can play them.


    Writhing
    (Grind Core)
    reviewed in issue #33, 4/30/93

    I've been wondering how serious the Dead Youth are; Their stuff is so over-the-top you can't take it seriously, but I wasn't sure. Until I heard the first track of this album. Funny as hell.

    From there it degenerates into muddy grindcore. But there are those lyrics many women love: "I'll crunch your ballsac (sic) whip it into a mulch. Genital juices gurgle and squelch, squeeze your testicles, put them in a vice..."

    Um, apart from the fact squelch means to put an stop to, or something like that, this is real art, man. I'll show you some funky divas, man.


    Deadbolt
    Tiki Man
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #64, 10/15/94

    What's Voodoobilly, you ask? Well, somewhere between Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Great guitar licks somewhat obscured by weird and sometimes funny (always extreme) vocals.

    You do have to be in the mood to really dig this. If for some reason you're just not in the mood for silliness, then wait until such an appropriate time. Everything is pretty low-key, except for the lyrical content, which focuses on, well, voodoo.

    These guys should be awful fun live, and they are pretty amusing on disc, too. The music lays down a nice atmosphere for what follows. If you just float along for the ride, you'll enjoy it.


    Tijuana Hit Squad
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #116, 8/12/96

    Pure lunacy. Take a guitar, fade it to a background echo with a heavy sound. Add in straight 4/4 drumming and a bouncy surf bass line. And then deep, scratchy vocals spewing forth some truly wacky shit. Bingo! You have voodoobilly. And that's what Deadbolt plays.

    Lots of songs about killing folks, bad mojos and the like. Another reviewer in my are referred to Deadbolt as the perfect Halloween party band. I'll concur.

    Deadbolt has been used in ESPN2 promos (I can't remember which, but the music is unmistakable) and this should have garnered a decent national following by now. I don't get quite the cool vibe from this album as I did from Tiki Man, but maybe I've just listened to that album a bit too much. Still a big wad of fun.

    And don't worry; this stuff is good enough to get past mere novelty appeal. The playing is good, the production keeps everything in a smoky room. Just where it should be.


    Zulu Death Mask
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in #164, 8/3/98

    Wonderful psycho surf tuneage with them growly, howly vocals. Yep, it's another turn for Deadbolt. And I'm always happy for the visit.

    Actually, after fifty spins or so, Tijuana Hit Squad lost some of its sheen, something that still hasn't happened to Tiki Man. I'm getting more of a classic vibe from this disc, though I have to admit I'm not going to able to perform the requisite repetitions to properly adjudge such matters.

    This disc is definitely less jokey and more spooky, and Deadbolt's key attribute has always been the creepy factor. Sure, this stuff is a howl, but the band has to play it straight. And Deadbolt is stiff as a rod on this disc.

    More fine Halloween music. I've got enough Deadbolt to get through the first part of a serious party. Of course, I'll be spinning this puppy quite a few times before pumpkin time.


    Voodoo Trucker
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #190, 11/1/99

    You know, it's Halloween, and what should appear in the mailbox but another Deadbolt album. Uneven sometimes, but there's always something good to be found. The stuff is simply too funny to resist.

    Last album was bit heavier on the music. Good stuff. Here, the focus is back on the seriously silly lyrics. Well, if you consider death, dismemberment and demonic possession silly.

    I do. And this disc is perhaps the band's most clever. The real world has been left far behind, and out here on the spooky edge, there isn't anyone who does this better. Deadbolt is Deadbolt, period. And as usual, Deadbolt does Deadbolt very well.

    There comes a point when I can't say anything else about a band. I love these guys, and I listen to their albums more than I should. If you can't imagine possibilities of a spooky rockabilly band kicking out horror stories, well, too bad. I'm hitting repeat, myself.


    Hobo Babylon
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #225, January 2002

    These guys have been making spooky, jokey albums for a long time now. Nothing new here, but still plenty of creepy mirth.


    Deadguy
    Fixation on a Coworker
    (Victory)
    reviewed in issue #95, 1/15/96

    Vicious hardcore that takes no prisoners. At times, Deadguy rivals the best in the business. And then they do silly things like fuck with the tempo and the groove, switching gears. Aaaaaaaaaaa!

    And that's when I want to shoot them. Hardcore and death metal bands (I know the difference) seems to have this problem most often. You get a minute and a half of a cool song down, and you get stuck. So instead of repeating the cool part and getting a great three-minute piece, the band cranks another couple minutes of something else into the song, totally destroying it.

    Deadguy can play fast, slow and in-between very well. And on many of the songs here, one coherent thought permeates throughout and the result is great. But then comes the odd stumble, and I get bummed. Deadguy is just a small step from moving up with the Victory big boys like Earth Crisis and Snapcase. A little more work on the songwriting should do the trick.


    Deadspot
    Built-In Pain
    (C/Z Records)
    reviewed in issue #1, 10/31/91

    Philly hard core gods release another batch of truly inspiring music. Mike Illes' screeching vocals are a nice break from either Bad Religion wanna be harmonies or death metal-style incoherence. The music is top notch, with great riffs abounding and even occasional lead solo work.

    Once again, C/Z has pulled a cool band out of the depths of obscurity (check out their Hammerbox release from earlier this year; it's a must). Produced by Seattle scene guru Jack Endino, Built-In Pain is a treat for the ears.

    Cuts to blast: "Nightmares," "With Your Belief," "Built-In Pain," "Suicide City" and "God Machine" (woo-woo!).


    Deaf Judges
    All Rise
    (Emerald City Ruins)
    reviewed in issue #307, May 2009

    Combining a gang-vocal style highly reminiscent of the Beastie Boys with an embrace of the full range of hip-hop beats from the last 30 years (and then some), Deaf Judges leave quite an impression.

    So you've got some old school slammin' beats and plenty of collage work that brings to mind the Bomb Squad or Prefuse 73 (depending on the song). The rhymes tend to have a point of view (always a plus with me), and they've delivered with style.

    This goes down so easily that I'm somewhat reticent to get excited. Can something this immediately enticing actually have staying power? I think so, mostly because of the quality of the beatwork. This album spins from sound to sound without seeming disjointed. The song sequence has a fine flow.

    That willingness to experiment so freely makes this an obvious pairing with DOOM, but I think I've already exhausted my list of superlative references. Suffice it to say that Deaf Judges ought to appeal to those who prefer their hip-hop with an dash of spice.


    Arron Dean
    MLPS
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #327, May 2011

    Deliberate and desperately earnest, Arron Dean warps the whole folk-pop-americana sound into something seriously eccentric. Perhaps its his jazz background, or maybe it's just the result of moving from South Africa to New York and then wandering through this fine nation of ours.

    The most arresting thing Dean does with his songs is to multi-track his vocals. But most often, we're not talking harmonizing. Rather, when the tracking really stacks up, the effect is one of modest dissonance. It sounds really cool.

    The songs are well-written and performed with precision. I'd like to hear a slightly looser hand on the music, but that would really go against the entire feel that Dean has going. I'll have to live with his need to craft to the nth detail.

    And the crafting isn't annoying, even if it sometimes renders the odd song almost surreal. With so much effort put into the making and producing of this album, almost anything could have gone wrong. Very little did. And that's most impressive.


    Dearly Beheaded
    Temptation
    (Fierce-Futurist)
    reviewed in issue #119, 9/23/96

    Music calculated to fill the pits, running along at Rollins-speed. In fact, there are more than a few similarities... and don't forget the heavy Biohazard influence!

    The main difference is that Dearly Beheaded just can't stay stuck in a rut all the time. The tempo sometimes moves past "dirge", and even the slow mosh works on tunes like "Witness". Yeah, you've heard this before. Metallized hardcore that grinds along just fast enough to keep you regular.

    But after cruising through the album, the most obvious reference point is old Anthrax. Like before Joey, but with better production. So folks don't call this stuff "metal" any more. Could've fooled me.

    Passable, but just not enough originality to really kick me into gear. Not so much generic as just unexciting. I kept wanting to really like this, but to no avail. I'm feeling awfully indifferent.


    Death
    Individual Thought Patterns (advance cassette)
    (Relativity)
    reviewed in issue #36, 6/30/93

    Chuck may have been present at the birth of death metal, but so many bands have passed his, I don't know why he still tries. I wouldn't even call this death metal. More like dull thrash. Retire and become a legend, man.


    Symbolic
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #73, 3/31/95

    When I heard the news a few months ago that Chuck Schuldiner had recruited another set of sidemen to crank out yet another Death album, I was dubious, to say the least.

    I've never been a Death fan, and I thought the last two albums were particularly stagnant in the creative department.

    But I'm pleasantly surprised by this disc. Chuck and Co. have given up on death metal, going for a more speed-prog metal approach, and it fits quite well.

    Death has always been a bit too technically oriented to get me off, and that trend continues here. But Chuck has come up with a great collection of riffage, and for one it sounds like he really tried to write songs.

    This is the best Death album I've ever heard. The performances are great, and the production is clean, which is exactly what this new creative turn needed. While still not exactly my cup of tea, I've got my hat off the Chuck and the boys: a fine album, indeed.


    Death By Chocolate
    Death By Chocolate EP
    (Jetset)
    reviewed in issue #212, 2/19/01

    A multiple contributor to the two most recent Songs for the Jetset collections, Death By Chocolate takes a loopy electronic approach to 60s pop psychedelia. And don't be put off by the lengthy song list on the back. Almost half of those "tunes" are strange little list monologues.

    Perhaps those odd spoken-word bits can be better explained by the fact that Death By Chocolate is Angie Tillett. While I might have guessed that from the fairly minimalist approach to the sound, this in no way sounds like a stereotypical obsessive solo project.

    Indeed, there's a playfulness that emanates from each song, a feeling of joy that is pretty hard to shake. This isn't mindless effervescence, mind you, but a more mature sort of happiness that comes from having been around the block a couple of times.

    Throwback? Nope. Something altogether new and unique. Death By Chocolate does feel like something of a gimmick at first. But then the depth begins to make itself known. That's when the smiles really begin to show.


    Death in the Park
    Death in the Park EP
    (End Sounds)
    reviewed in issue #305, March 2009

    Something of a preview for the upcoming album, this five-song set tell me all I need to know. The sound is fairly commercial emo with plenty of kick. Reminds me a bit of the Ataris, though slightly more technical when it comes to the melodies.

    The key to this sound is fun. If the songs rev up the heart and bring a smile, then the particulars just don't matter. Death in the Park knows how to create songs that simply cannot be put down. I suppose one might whine about commercial aspirations, but I'm much more interested in how the music makes me feel.

    Emo is not about thinking, heavy analysis or musical theory. It's about being alive. And this too-short set breathes plenty of sun into this particularly chilly winter.


    Death in Vegas
    Dead Elvis
    (Time Bomb/BMG)
    reviewed in issue #145, 10/13/97

    Once known as "Dead Elvis" (the name was changed to arouse less ire from fans of the corpulent one), Death in Vegas consists of a DJ who likes to be called Richard Fearless and another guy named Steve Hellier. The sound is somewhere in the new electronic universe, though more roots-laden than chock full of throbbing beats.

    This shares a lot with that Style Scott/Bill Laswell disc I reviewed last month. The grooves are thick in the South (from Memphis to Kingston, and often both at the same time--check out "GBH"). The songs are loose arrangements of tight rhythm structures. The guys give the stuff time to develop. And they don't overload with bombast, which keeps the sound in the land of the real.

    They've toured with Lionrock, a band which shares many of these same attitudes. After all, just because you're using technology, you don't have to create an album that sounds like it was shit out of an Amiga, now do you?

    No, it's actually possible to make a highly pleasing song using electronic cut-and-paste. String enough of those together and you get a great album. Like we've got here.


    Death Engine
    Mud
    (Throatruiner)
    reviewed 4/6/15

    Wow. This stuff is amazing. It's been a long time since I've heard something truly fresh in the whole metal/extreme/screamcore/etc. arena, but Death Engine turns the trick. Okay, the name is not very interesting, but ignore that. The title of the album is more instructive.

    Using metal textures, including a startling analog version of the (generally electronic) flat repetitive snare attack of black metal, Death Engine creates some of the most vivid and engrossing sonic waves that I've come across.

    There's no doubt this is metal. And in its own way, this is just as meticulously-crafted as the Mars Volta. Except that the vocals are straight screamer, and instead of prog the band has opted for curtains of noise. The arrangements are almost orchestral in nature; "waves" are perhaps the best way to describe the manner in which these songs fall upon the ears. At times, there's a definite Streetcleaner vibe, but Death Engine is more nimble.

    It takes a certain kind of listener to piece through everything that Death Engine throws out. And just when the pressure has built to the point of breaking, the boys throw in a pretty interlude like "Zero." Just one more sign that this band knows exactly what it is doing.

    I'm happy to be manipulated. My fingers are bloody from holding on while navigating the crests and troughs of this album. I've always treasured the adrenalin rush provided by stuff like this, and I haven't had a better one in years--maybe decades. I still find the name unfortunate (aren't there enough "death" bands already?), but after about twenty seconds of "Medusa," that concern had been rendered irrelevant. The power of this music is undeniable. The only question is how many people can withstand the attack.


    Todd Deatherage
    Dream Upon a Fallen Star
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #245, September 2003

    I've got this theory that Uncle Tupelo serves the same role today that Big Star did when I was in college. Back in 1988, Big Star seemed almost ancient--having broken up some 14 or so years previous. Uncle Tupelo broke up in the summer of 1993, so maybe my theory is a bit premature. And then again, listening to folks like Todd Deatherage, maybe not.

    Deatherage and pals don't ape Farrar and Tweedy, but the twisting of country and roots with more contemporary sounds of all sorts kinda found its critical mass in the late 1980s with bands like the Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo and a bunch of other bands I saw just about every weekend during my five years at the University of Missouri.

    All of which is more than enough about me and my theories. Deatherage is as likely to whip out some western swing as he is to toss off a nice little two-stepper. And while each of these songs sounds decidedly straight on the surface, there's always an odd little aside rumbling in the underbrush. The songwriting is superb, and the performances are similarly superlative.

    Did I mention that Deatherage and friends are from New York? I swear, there are more great alt. country types in New York than the rest of the country put together. If this is the hot sound up there, I'm at a loss to explain why the rest of the nation hasn't caught on. Todd Deatherage proves with this album that he belongs in the first rank of modern country artists (or whatever you want to call this sort of stuff). Heartbreakingly gorgeous, it is.


    The Deathray Davies
    Without a Trace 7"
    (Has Anyone Ever Told You?)
    reviewed in issue #225, January 2002

    Some of the atonal, strident lines of emo imported into a clunky roots-pop style. All done up pretty-like. The Deathray Davies are much more ambitious than this fairly stripped-down style.

    There are all sorts of little quality touches. The organ on the flip. A refusal to stay straight on tone. The barest hint of emotion. Subtlety rules.

    And subtle pop is fine stuff, indeed. This puppy takes a couple spins to set its hook, but once ensnared, you'll find it hard to leave.


    Death Ride 69
    Screaming Down the Gravity Well
    (Fifth Colvmn)
    reviewed in issue #114, 7/15/96

    A My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult side project that suffers from much the same problem as the main act: lack of a point.

    As less money went into this set of tunes, the production isn't so grossly overdone (leaving a nasty glossy hangover), but the general lack of creative thought in the songwriting is pretty distressing.

    Sure, this makes for decent mindless club usage. Get enough beers in me and I'll step out with this stuff. But that doesn't really excuse the lack of quality. Recycled guitar riffs over recycled beats, with inane vocals to boot. I know why this was made (plenty of folks still inexplicably subscribe to the MLWTTKK gospel), but that doesn't mean I have to dig it.

    This didn't have to be so dull. Sounds like someone scraping the bottom of the barrel.


    The Death Set
    To
    (Rabbitfoot/Morphius)
    reviewed in issue #274, May 2006

    New wave meets no wave. The Death Set uses bouncy keyboard riffs and increasingly strained vocals to create a grating and exhilarating album. This disc might be that one night stand you can't resist--even though you know you'll be paying for it in the morning.

    Manic, crazed and yet surprisingly tuneful. If I were in a sillier mood, I might call these songs goofy. But I don't think that's quite right. Nonetheless, these folks visit the rational world infrequently.

    Which makes these songs that much more exciting. Sane people wouldn't make stuff like this. I have to admit that guessing which mental disorder is most prevalent in the band is a lot of fun. Mania is winning out right now.

    The vast majority of people will run screaming from this album. And they should. The Death Set is for true believers only. And if you can figure out exactly what to believe after hearing this set, you're way ahead of me.


    Deathstar
    Deathstar 10"
    (Silver Girl)
    reviewed in issue #131, 3/31/97

    Noisy and raucous pop, punctuated with a nice punk feel. Really messy, though that does lend a sort of charm

    The real problem is that Deathstar never really seems to kick out a very good song. Oh, there are occasional good moments, but nothing even close to great. And even the good moments are easily overrun by the mediocre.

    I do like the sound, though. Very live and very touchable. This slab of vinyl makes it sound like Deathstar is really playing in my living room. Off-kilter harmonies, guitar squeals and all.

    But still nothing exciting in the songwriting department. And to be honest, the playing is just average. Good things going on, but not enough to make me care all that much.


    The Deaths
    Centralia
    (Go Johnny Go/Elephant Park)
    reviewed in issue #304, February 2009

    Pretty, highly-involved pop. The Deaths throw as much as is possible into their sound--orchestration, electronics, distortion, you name it---and then let the almost otherworldly beauty of the melodies blast these songs into orbit. This is, of course, a time-honored technique.

    Most bands tend to screw it up, though. They go for excessive excess, and the only band that managed to pull off that trick was My Bloody Valentine almost 20 years ago. The Deaths are more circumspect in their use of the bludgeon; the songs here actually sound like songs.

    And with a nice, full sound that really fleshes out the writing. There is something beneath all the sonic gimmickry, and it's worth hearing. These are well-crafted songs that are arranged quite nicely for the modern pop setting.

    The album just keeps rolling along. Solid, occasionally inspired, work. I'd have to hear more from the Deaths to make a real judgment, but this is good stuff. Lots here to like.


    Sara DeBell
    Grunge Lite
    (C/Z)
    reviewed in issue #38, 8/31/93

    Who else could make "Smells like Teen Spirit" sound like a 1984-era Madonna song? And the strings on "Even Flow"!

    It is almost impossible to sit through a single song, not to mention the entire album. DeBell did a great job. This is just as annoying as commercial Muzak (a company headquartered right here in K.C., wouldn't ya know).

    I've heard a "real" Muzak version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and of course Guns 'N' Roses "You Could Be Mine" (talk about spooky). Don't ask me where; let's just say it wasn't at home.

    This is a joke. Play it as one. While it's kinda sad this will almost certainly become C/Z's biggest seller ever, there is no other label who has had to suffer more under the grunge plague.

    Let's hope Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots take the hint and get jobs where they are truly qualified: McDonald's.


    Doug De Bias
    Coming of Age in Babylon book and CD
    (New Spring Books)
    reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    The book is a series of essays aimed at teenagers. Yes, another "How to grow up" book, though this one has the sense to tell kids to think for themselves and most importantly, trust themselves.

    The accompanying CD has 20 songs from 20 bands. Some folks I've reviewed before (Three Finger Cowboy with one of my favorite songs of last year: "Kissed", Danielle Howle, the Veldt), a number that I haven't heard. There is a common strain to the music; all of the bands owe something or other to Big Star pop.

    These days, that's like saying the grunge movement owed something to Skin Yard. But anyway. Within that broad classification, the bands manage to wander about quite a bit, or, as the author says, kicking out the poetry of self-discovery.

    I never went for this sort of thing when I was younger (I used The Chocolate War as my manual for passage to adulthood, which is not a path I would recommend), but the book is well-written, and the philosophy cogent without pandering to "modern" conventions. The disc fits in right nicely. A right nice set.


    Deceased
    Luck of the Corpse
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #7, 2/14/92

    The odd great riff dots the landscape of this brutal onslaught. Unlike many death outfits who sound like they were created in a studio, this has a very live sound to it. The tempos are changeable, and these guys let the groove hang out for a while before they speed your brains to death.

    At first this sounded like uncontrolled chaos, but after getting into it, I realized there is direction, and that everything hinges on the drums (very nice work indeed from skin man/vocalist King Fowler). These guys should be amazing live.


    The 13 Frightened Souls EP
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #33, 4/30/93

    Five shades of death. A nice little ep that, while produced rather sparsely, sounds damn nice. While the Voivod cover sounds more like the Accused (which Benediction covered on their new album), it certainly is an interesting take.

    More accomplished playing also is a highlight. As these American bands mature, who knows where they might end up. An almost frightening thought.

    This sounds like an almost punk take on death metal. Of course, where do you think this music comes from? Tight jams here, and they're obviously having fun.


    The Blueprints for Madness
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #74, 4/15/95

    Still pushing the speed envelope, Deceased still violates (on a regular basis) my #1 rule of songwriting: If you got a good groove, don't fuck with it. The intro to "Morbid Shape in Black" is positively stunning. I couldn't believe it, to be honest. And then the band decided to go to grind speed for the verse.

    I know, this is a tradition in death metal, a bad habit picked up from listening to too much Iron Maiden (I still haven't quite forgiven that band for fucking up "Caught Somewhere in Time") and such.

    Some of the prog touches are nice, but Deceased is best when it sticks to one idea at a time. The anthemic agonizing gets a little stale at times. And if you don't believe my Iron Maiden comparison, listen to "Island of the Unknown".

    I keep waiting for that one Deceased album that will really break the band out of the "pretty good" category and into the "fucking amazing" category. The talent is there; I can feel it. After the EP, I thought this might be the album, but...

    Plenty to dig, but this unrealized potential is starting to bug me.


    '95 demos
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #76, 5/15/95

    Obviously this isn't a mass-released product, but just a cheap cassette with three new songs on it. The guys were bummed that I didn't get into the new disc completely, and thus decided to try and make me smile with these three new tunes.

    And it worked, for the most part. I like the looser sound they get with the demos, and, like on the most recent EP, Deceased is sticking with cool grooves and not wanking around so much (though some of those tendencies remain). If the rest of the next project (album, EP, whatever) is up to this quality, it should be a barnburner. I don't know if they'll send out copies of this stuff to radio stations or whatever, but drop a note and see what happens.


    Fearless Undead Machines
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #139, 7/21/97

    King Fowler and company returns with easily the most commercial-sounding Deceased album ever. The thanks yous may still be at death metal-length levels, but the music is very much in the early 80s Eurometal area. Except of course, King is still singing. Of course, he sounds about as tuneful as Iron Maiden's new singer...

    And there are a lot of statements in the thank yous proclaiming the high quality of post-Dickinson Maiden. So all that ties together very nicely. And as surprising as it seems, Deceased pulls this new direction off quite well. The playing, while not masterful, is good enough, and the production leaves the guitar lines clear enough to appreciate. And, yes, King Fowler raises his trademark growl to actual singing.

    This album is supposed to be some sort of zombie horror flick concept album, and that's where I've got the problem. The lyrics are dreadfully silly much of the time, and all the attention paid to this subject matter led to some real songwriting dead-ends.

    It's not Iced Earth or Edge of Sanity or anything close. But this new Deceased sound is still pretty good. Plenty of adrenaline, and that's pretty damned important. A nice rush.


    Dan DeCellis
    (and Aaron Ali Shaikh)
    Under Careful Watch the Spoken Words Fly
    (Sachimay)
    reviewed in issue #259, November 2004

    Shaikh plays sax (alto, soprano and sopranino) and Dan DeChellis plays piano. These are improvisations, and two-man excursions such as this can really get out of control fast if the folks involved don't pay attention to what they're doing. Shaikh and DeChellis don't shy away from pushing the envelope, but they're most meticulous when it comes to keeping their pieces in line.

    Generally, one or the other takes the lead and holds it for an entire piece. The second player on a given song chimes in when necessary and even occasionally wrests temporary control. But that's only temporary. When the crunch comes, the leader is in charge.

    I'm not sure if this is because one or the other has a particular theme or melody in mind before the start of the session (certainly, many of these improvisations do have a variations on a theme feel to them) or if Shaikh and DeChellis simply have a stellar repore. But there is a level of unspoken communication that is impressive.

    Improvisational music doesn't have to be manic (or even egomanical). It can be contemplative at times. The sounds of sax and piano complement each other quite well, and on this set, DeChellis and Shaikh do the same. Fine listening.


    Billy Dechand
    Pop Another Cork
    (self-released) reviewed in issue #192, 12/6/99

    Sorta unusual that the lead guy plays bass (and the occasional organ). And, really, the interesting parts of the songs aren't in the bass lines, either. Dechand trusts his sidemen, and they take great care with his songs.

    Pieces which are somewhat rambling and chaotic in structure, but always emotionally satisfying. And since Dechand prefers to plumb the rich mine of human feelings, well, perhaps this approach is most appropriate.

    Grand, desperate and sometimes both, these songs don't so much lurch as meander. Like someone trying to recover something lost. Or perhaps trying to find something they've never seen before.

    The grand quest doesn't have a conclusion. That's really fitting. Dechand doesn't come to any conclusions or even a stopping point. He just simply allows the journey to continue. The right choice, certainly.


    (as The Billy Dechand Band) Hocus Pocus
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #198, 4/17/00

    Billy Dechand has this way of writing songs... well, it's pretty easy to see what he wants to do. And his side players do a pretty good job of getting there. But something inevitably goes a little wrong.

    For starters, the playing is just a bit too mannered. And I think that does go back to the songwriting, which is perhaps a wee bit too crafted. Just by a hair. Sort of a prog approach to pop music, not unlike XTC. Of course, I've often said the same thing about those guys.

    So maybe this perception of things being not quite perfect is just my own damn problem. Not something to worry anyone else with. As I wander through this album, I'm beginning to think that's definitely the case.

    Perhaps you might want to imagine XTC with a fiddle player. Dechand has a few more influences at work (Dixie Dregs immediately comes to mind), so don't let my dumb references or observations get in your way of enjoying a fine disc.


    Eating Chicken
    (Blank Squirrel)
    reviewed in issue #340, September 2012

    Caleb Mueller, Canadian, is Decomposure. The sounds are nominally electronic, but Mueller does so much vocal multitracking that it can be hard to pick on that.

    So, no, this isn't alternapop. Not exactly. But Mueller has a fine ear for melody and a solid sense of strong construction. And he uses his vocals as an instrument exceptionally well. So why is he called "electronic"? Dunno. But I can't suggest a better category. There's a lot going on here, and it has been well-orchestrated. Mueller knows what he's doing. And he's crafted some seriously fine pop songs.

    Call this what you like. These songs are impeccably attractive, and they make me smile. Mueller has a fine ear for both music and lyrics, and he's put this album together with verve and care. Well done.


    Deconstruction
    Deconstruction
    (American)
    reviewed in issue #59, 7/31/94

    "So that's the Jane's Addiction rhythm section's new thing?" my friend asked. "From what I hear, they didn't have much to do with the band's music."

    "Then it just might not suck," I said. The only thing that raises a red flag quicker in my mind than "featuring ex-members of Jane's Addiction" is "featuring ex-members of Whitesnake". Eew.

    The positive thing I can say is that I listened to the whole album without cringing much. Porno for Pyros absolutely drove me up a wall, what with Perry Ferrell's self-absorbed pile of shit and all.

    Yes, this is masturbatory to an extreme. The name of the band has something to do with their approach to music. Most of this is disjointed rambling, held together by mundane riffage. It's not a garish failure like PfP, but maybe you should at least aspire to something. It sure sucks to try this hard to end up dull.


    Deep Jimi and the Zep Creams
    Blowup
    (Technicolour)
    reviewed in issue #16, 6/30/92

    The name says it all. Sludgy rhythm guitar riff attack with the occasional lead streak. The sound is tres early 70s. Nothing new or inspired here, but not too bad, either.

    But they must have influential friends, as Shimmy-god Kramer produced this live ep. Oh, yes, this was recorded live at CBGB's, and deserves a mention just for that, I suppose.

    And yes, I get the name. It just doesn't seem to be a joke.


    Brian Deer
    Black Cloud Talk
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #258, October 2004

    Anyone who gets Robbie Fulks to pitch in on his album must be doing something right. Add members of Bright Eyes and Sonia Dada to the guest list, and I started to wonder how many pals this guy has.

    If songs could make friends, Brian Deer would have a million. He writes tightly-crafted, easy-going snippets of joy. The lyrics aren't always (or even mostly) joyful, but the end result is happy, nonetheless. It's exceptionally difficult to make such well through out music sound so loose, but Deer does a nice job with it.

    There's still that "I'm a damned good songwriter, and I'm gonna make sure you know it" sheen to many of these songs--and that's alright by me. While the production is sterling (and often quite inventive), this still sounds to me like a collection of demos that Deer plans to send out to the more fortunate (and famous). And while I cringe thinking at the damage Nashville would do to these delicate masterpieces, it would score Deer some (I'm sure) welcome ready cash. These songs are good enough to be destroyed by a "major" artist, but they're probably never going to sound as good as they do here. Most pleasing.

    Contact:
    P.O. Box 1961
    Indianapolis, IN 46206
    e-mail: info@briandeer.net
    www: http://www.briandeer.net


    Deerheart
    Queen, Worker, Drone
    (Goldenrod)
    reviewed in issue #115, 7/29/96

    Another take on the tight-rhythm noise rock concept. Plenty of Jesus Lizard and Killdozer references to keep the silly happy, and enough other shit thrown in to amuse me.

    But come on. Even with cool tunes like "Small Teeth", Deerheart just can't seem to make a coherent statement (even considering the genre). The samples and drum machine stuff that gets thrown in are nice ideas, but nothing seems to jell. Kinda like a stew that just doesn't take.

    I like a lot of the bits, but on the whole this is disappointing. I can hear plenty of great ideas, but for some reason it doesn't speak to me. I'd like to find a better explanation, but at the moment that's what I've got.

    I think Deerheart is a group of folks with plenty of inspiration and potential. All that cool stuff just has to be implemented in a more creative fashion. This puppy sounds cobbled together, and I think Deerheart can do better than that.


    Deering and Down
    Coupe de Villa
    (Burn Barrel)
    reviewed in issue #225, January 2002

    That would be Lahna Deering and the Rev. Neil Down. Deering sings and plays guitar. Down plays guitar. They split songwriting. And what songs they split.

    Raucous blues-infused rockers. Lots of great guitar lines. Plenty of tasty licks to set yer foot a tappin'. The kinda songs that just keep on a rollin' off the disc. Like you don't want 'em to stop.

    Deering has one of those airy-yet-husky voices. She can go from a purr to a growl in a split second. Intoxicating. She sells every song, and that's not difficult. The lyrics are clever and poignant (quite a feat), impressive without stealing thunder from the music.

    A thoughtful good time. This disc just leaps off my machine. The production is first-rate, just enough of a ragged edge to keep the sound in line with the songs. Everything is done just so. And just right.


    Defecated Corpse
    Napalm Scars
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #31, 3/31/93

    Going-for-the-throat aggression, which I rather dig. The production is a little muffled, but pretty decent as demo standards go.

    At eight songs, there is a lot to amuse yourself. And amuse is an appropriate term, as a sense of humor pops up in interesting places. In a genre where some take themselves too seriously, it's awful nice to see an (almost) joke going on. This band doesn't exist any more, but at least three of the members are still around playing in various projects. This was certainly a most worthy one.


    Defecation
    Purity Dilution
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #19, 8/31/92

    Mitch and Mick Harris got together for a few hours over three years ago and cranked this out. It is just now seeing the light of day in the United States, due mostly to the great success Napalm Death is finally having.

    But even if Napalm Death were stiffs, this is a fine album. When so few people are involved, the project can seem even more together, more coherent. It seemed to work very well here. I do wish these folks would have a little humor and come out with an album titled "Mitch and Mick get Laid" or something stupid like that, but I suppose that would undermine the thoughts contained therein. No matter; ignore the tangent.

    And it is not nearly ND sound-related as are the Righteous Pigs. This is really not a slam or compliment. It's an observation. But, of course, any discerning death/grindcore fan will truly enjoy Defecation.

    I like this. It cranks my blood to new levels.


    Defiance
    Beyond Recognition
    (Roadracer)
    reviewed in issue #13, 5/15/92

    This got more response from my listeners Monday night than anything else I've played this year. Really amazing. And from talking to a few of the reporters, this is not an uncommon thing.

    They do have that Bay-area sound, but this is loads better than the last Metallica (dare I blaspheme? sure.) and the new Testament. One of my listeners put it this way: "It's like Pantera, Metallica, Dark Angel and Sepultura all rolled into one unholy ball-crunching machine!" He really said that. I wrote it down, I was so surprised. I don't usually get such testimonials.

    But he's right. And Defiance is even more than that. They aren't some major label-hyped band. Hell, from all appearances, this isn't even Roadracer's top release of the week. But it is far and away the best.


    Deicide
    Legion
    (R/C-Roadracer)
    reviewed in issue #14, 5./31/92

    One of the few truly Satanic bands around. And I do think it's sweet Glen Benton wrote the lead track, "Satan spawn, the Caco-Daemon," for his son. But the real test is the music.

    Not much of a progression from the last one. Very fast and aggressive, but nothing that hasn't been done a thousand times before.

    If you liked their first album, then this is another batch of songs straight from the mold. While tradition is a good thing, in this genre, if you don't evolve and improve, you might as well get out of the way.


    Amon: Feasting the Beast
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #28, 2/14/93

    You've heard most of this on Deicide's first album, but Roadrunner has decided to cash in... I mean reward Deicide's faithful fans with the original demos of Deicide's first incarnation. And I do agree with the liners: these rough cuts are a lot more interesting than the first album.

    Judging four- and five-year-old recordings is always rather difficult. Fans will love this, and those of us still outside that legion can appreciate from whence they came.


    Once Upon the Cross
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #73, 3/31/95

    This sounds exactly like, well, another Deicide record.

    If you are a fan, I can't see how this will disappoint. For me, silly lyrics (if Glen Benton is trying to become the poet laureate of American Satanism, he need to work at that a little more) and pretty mundane death metal combine into mush.

    The production is surprisingly sharp for Scott Burns, and it leaves some of the riffs sounding positively Anthrax-like. Perhaps the music is a little more coherent, but I still just don't get it. All the Deicide fans should enjoy this, but this album doesn't bring any new blood to the camp.


    Serpents of the Light
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #146, 10/27/97

    Back from the dead? Well, not exactly. Scott Burns' increasingly technical style of production does help clean this mess up a bit, but I'm not sure that's what Glen Benton really wants. Tight songwriting and ace playing are not hallmarks of Deicide.

    But, actually, the more precise hand has helped. The songs are still repetitive and not terribly interesting, but at least I can hear what's going on. Benton has cleaned up his vocal style somewhat to the level that a few folks can understand what he's saying without the benefit of a lyric sheet. And the playing is at least proficient (most of the time)

    I still have this feeling that it's too little too late. Deicide ruled in a time when image was everything, and now that this genre has fallen out of favor with most of the disaffected youth, the band has to rely on actual musical chops. There aren't enough.

    From a technical standpoint, this is the best Deicide album ever. That's still not saying much.


    When Satan Lives
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #171, 11/9/98

    First Obituary, now Deicide. It's obvious a trend is on the downturn when the live albums start turning up. Recorded at the House of Blues in Chicago, the band takes many a trip down memory lane.

    With a strangely small sound. The lack of bombast focuses attention on the playing, and despite some initial misgivings, I have to say that works out pretty well. This leaner Deicide sound really suits the band well. Too band the studio efforts are often overblown.

    Of course, no matter how good the playing, the fact remains that Deicide, Glen Benton in particular, doesn't write very good songs. They're mostly rote affairs, with obligatory double bass drum work and speed guitar flashes. And lots of songs about how God is the real son of a Bitch.

    Better than I figured, though the band still has to play Deicide songs, after all. The crowd noise sounds piped up (remember that Scorpions live album? Geez.), but other than that I have to say this is the best sounding Deicide album I've heard. That it's live apparently makes all the difference.


    Del Rey
    Speak It Not Aloud
    (My Pal God)
    reviewed in issue #224, 11/5/01

    I'm thinking I may have mentioned this before: I'm a dead sucker for complex instrumentals that are created when the various members of a band play different lines which occasionally intersect with each other. Del Rey does that.

    I've tries to give a thousand names to this sound, and the problem is that while many bands play it, none do so the same way twice. Take June of 44. Not a bad album in the bunch those guys recorded. But each one was a fair departure from the previous one. Which brings me back to Del Rey.

    These folks play in a meditatively whirling style, with each of the lines revolving (somewhat) around a very loosely defined center. The center is, most often, the drums. Though there are songs where the bass seems to be laying down the law, and there's at least one song where the guitar is in charge.

    All that description, and yet all I can really say is that music like this turns on my brain. It's just the way the different pieces come together; in particular, the points of intersection. There's so much going on that I can play with the sounds all day in my head. Anyway, Del Rey inspired me to get a little wiggy on this review. That's gotta count for something.


    Delerium
    Euphoric EP
    (Third Mind)
    reviewed in issue #6 1/31/92

    I've always found industrial music to be best suited for drinking or playing underneath raunchy comedy albums (There's just nothing quite like some Neubauten driving an old Richard Pryor album - bliss!). You can dance to this, I suppose, but it's not recommended. This is very depressing fare, and there are only four songs; one clocks in at 14:15.

    The title track actually does have some floor potential, as does its side-mate, "Decade," but the second is real dull. Of course, if you like New Order... Nothing too heavy, nothing to differentiate it from the pack. But I think "Grave Mentor" would be perfect background to the first Dice album. Of course, it would be a bitch to air, especially if you live in a populated area...


    Karma
    (Nettwerk/EMI)
    reviewed in issue #134, 5/12/97

    Otherwise known as Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber, who until recently (my spies report) were better known as Frontline Assembly.

    Delerium has always been the most ambient and mellow of the FLA side projects, but this outing is much slicker and (dare I say?) commercial than anything I've heard from these guys in the past. Yes, the songs are still pretty long and the wide range of sample sounds remains, but I have to say this is the sort of thing you might here in one of those Lerner clothing stores.

    I'm not really complaining, of course. Alright, so the almost honey-laden female vocals get on my nerves from time to time. There's room in my musical universe for that and a whole lot more.

    At times, I do yearn for a bare, jagged edge or two to pop up. This is almost too seamless, too pretty. Still, a monster step in a new direction for Rhys and Fulber, even if they won't be working together again for a while.


    The Delgados
    Universal Audio
    (Chemikal Underground)
    reviewed in issue #258, October 2004

    The Delgados have been plying their Britrock sound for some time now, and this album is simply the next in a series of strong efforts. Indeed, there are few bands on any continent who can mix rock, pop and electronic elements into such a stirring sound.

    Just for kicks, I decided to see what people who buy the Delgados also buy. Amazon sez Super Furry Animals, and that's an apt enough comparison (though it might well be a reverse one, given this band's extensive track record). Still, those who can't parse my prose ought to have an idea of what's going on here now.

    Whether jaunty or haunting, the Delgados give each song the atmosphere it requires. The overall sound does have a vaguely gauze-like feel, but the caul is lifted now and again when songs really need to kick into overdrive.

    Yes, yes, these folks are veddy, veddy British. No way around that. Americans are still back in their garages. The Delgados never felt the need to "authenticate" their music by making it sound sloppy, but nonetheless this highly-crafted, exquisitely produced album never sounds stilted. Once again, the Delgados have created something truly otherworldly.


    Delirious?
    Mezzamorphis
    (Virgin)
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    Five British guys doing what comes naturally. That is, crafting catchy pop song utilizing the latest trends. Thus, each song has a kicky electronic backbeat, some gang vocal choruses (a la Chumbawamba) and the usual keyboard orchestrations.

    Unfortunately, this sounds a bit more calculated than most Britpop fare. And it's much more grating. I like the hooks, I can't resist them, but there's too much goop in between. Bleah, bleah, bleah.

    What I do not hear is anything particularly new or interesting. Delirious? simply recycles, and not in any sort of unique way. A real bummer that way.

    Gorgeous sounding, of course, but ultimately hollow. Kinda like a doughnut. After the hooks fade, the stomach ache begins.


    Deliverance
    Stay of Execution
    (Intense-Frontline)
    reviewed in issue #21, 9/30/92

    The thing I like about Intense Records is that they are a Christian label. Now, a lot of you aren't cool with that, and I just won't let you shun this album because of it. After all, you won't see these guys on the 700 Club, and I'm sure Jerry Falwell is not hip to the Intense tip. But the fact is you can put any message in heavy metal, even death metal or grindcore.

    This is not that heavy, not even as heavy as their last, which included a song called "Chipped Beef," which was merely a recipe for that dish put over music. No such humor here. The music tends to heavy Euro-metal, with a touch of the grind at times. But I think these folks have been listening to some Helloween and such lately. I'm a sucker for that. This jams. And you can always read the Bible verses to your listeners.


    Kevin Dellinger
    Kevin Dellinger
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #132, 4/14/97

    Admittedly lo-tech, Dellinger has a nice touch on the whole gothic pop concept. And perhaps his somewhat clunky execution actually make the whole sound better than many technologially superior acts.

    Not unlike if the Magnetic Fields was a goth act, Dellinger incorporates a sparse sound (probably by necessity) into four fairly dreary tunes. This is exactly what is called for, of course, and Dellinger's lyrics aren't nearly so morbidly silly as many in the same circle.

    Perhaps the songs are a bit long, and Dellinger does need to change up his drum machine a bit more between songs (or he'll really start sounding like Gary Numan). These are fairly quibbling points, really. For a one-man effort, this is impressive.


    The Delta 72
    The R&B of Membership
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #109, 5/20/96

    First came the tour. Then a Dischord 7". And now the big bucks as Touch and Go recording artists. Um, well, let's not overstate the point or anything.

    There are vocals and lyrics here, I guess. Not like they're intelligible or anything. Not like I care. Equal parts squeal guitar, thump bass, backbeat drums and mellowtron keys, with a side of harp. Goodness, how the time flies.

    Yeah, so this puppy flies on attitude airlines. If the band wasn't so "in yer face" about the proceedings, then I suppose it wouldn't kick ass so much. But woulda couldas won't get us anywhere. The Delta 72 is pounding on your door. Whatcha gonna do?

    With any intelligence, you'll let the folks in. Boy-girl-boy-girl, so they can slide right into any dinner party you're planning. And if you feed them well and ask nicely, I'd bet they might even play a little music for your guests. And if you like that highly modulated hip-swingin' toss yer best girl over your back kinda 60s pop (with the added benefit of 90s distortion), then you just might have found heaven.

    Highly holy shit. Coming in buckets.


    The Soul of a New Machine
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #138, 7/7/97

    The liners are written by John Sinclair, and now everything makes much more sense. Powered by an infusion of fusion-style horns, the Delta 72 an even bigger chunk of the rock pie this time out, and the results are even more satisfying.

    Kinda like if the Laughing Hyenas ventured to Memphis and ended up arriving in 1966. Lots of noise and other crunchy delights, but filled with a vibrant, soulful feel that pervades every bit of this album. MC5 comparisons are obvious (exhibit A: the liner notes), but the Delta 72 lets the music do the talking, preferring to sing about somewhat more oblique topics.

    Making this at once a more sophisticated and entertaining album. It is an experience for the heart, mind and soul. My guess is that's where the bad wanted to end up, and so it has. Nice when that happens.

    This can only win over new fans. And if you don't believe such ragged music can also be soulful, well, go back and listen to that first Otis Redding album and prove me wrong.


    000
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #197, 3/27/00

    It has to be said: The Delta 72 has smoothed out a few rough edges. Yeah, these guys were always about a raucous approach to soul and blues, but the sound bordered on incoherent at times in the early years.

    That a band like this is still around to contemplate "early years" is amazing. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that in smoothing out the sound in the studio, the Delta 72 was merely getting closer to its live jam sound. And so an album like this arrives.

    There's a bit more of a 60s garage pop sound here, but the blistering blues still come across beautifully. In fact, there are a number of "pretty" moments on this disc, times when just about everything comes together just about perfectly.

    I'd say this is as close as the band has come to recording the album it always knew it had in it. This is one of those "I'm driving for 10 hours with the top down and just this disc in the car" albums. That pretty much says it all.


    Demolition Hammer
    Epidemic of Violence
    (Century Media)
    reviewed in issue #14, 5/31/92

    An extremely strong rhythm section drives Demolition Hammer on to its inevitable mindcrushing musical tantrums. Thoughtful lyrics (even though I don't agree with the point of view of a couple) keep this twisting into form.

    Not just another grindcore/death metal band. The music is sparsely produced, as to bring to mind an engine of some sort. And the vocals are nicely grunted, fusing together the best results of enunciation and traditional death shouts.

    An amazing piece of work. My blood is hot; I want to kill. Or at least feed off the adrenaline. Oh, what a feeling...


    time bomb
    (Century Media)
    reviewed in issue #65, 10/31/94

    Much more metal than death, Demolition Hammer return with an offering as fine as Epidemic of Violence.

    At the time, many old school death metal fans referred to Demolition Hammer as a joke. But in the time since then, traditional metal conventions have been increasingly incorporated into big name death metal albums. You need only check out recent Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Carcass albums for such evidence.

    And now, Demolition Hammer seems to be keeping more of a traditional sound than those bands. And the songwriting is still solid. DH is one of the few bands whose members know how to find a groove within death metal and keep it going.

    No jokes here. Demolition Hammer has returned with a vengeance to claim its proper place.


    The Demon Beat
    Bullshit Walks
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #331, October 2011

    The Demon Beat lives by one credo: If you play a riff often enough and loud enough, people will like it. And damned if they don't have a point.

    This is pretty much by-the-numbers garage rock. What sets the Demon Beat apart is its energy. I'm always shocked at how many garage bands sound liked they haven't quite woken up. I mean, what's the point of playing rough and ready rock and roll while you're yawning?

    The Demon Beat has no such problems. This starts fast and loud, and that's pretty much the sound of the entire album. Are these songs a bit repetitive? Sure. But they've got a verve that few can touch.

    I'm an adrenalin junkie. And these boys come to play. I can overlook some originality issues if a band kicks as much ass as these boys.


    Gitane Demone
    With Love and Dementia
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #76, 5/15/95

    Torch songs sung in dominatrix leather. Former bandmate Rozz Williams helps out on a couple songs (this is a live recording). No, really.

    I'm not sure who thought Demone was the creative force behind Christian Death (I use the term creative with some trepidation). But whoever that is has decided to bankroll her solo career. Not a great idea. Demone is a passable singer (though somewhat flat much of the time). But she has a way of destroying songs that might actually be good. It's just hard to tell with the way she over-emotes every syllable.

    The disc ends with a Christian Death tune (about the only time the band really lets anything out) done by Demone and Williams. Demone mostly wails every thirty seconds or so, letting Williams do most of the work. Just like old times, I guess.


    Demonic
    The Empire of Agony
    (Necropolis)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    Alright, all you black metal fans who found the Dawn album a little, shall we say, unworthy? Try on Demonic for size. Rage and brutality, with no quarter asked for or given. Now, there's still a coherent songwriting style (and still very much Iron Maiden influenced), but this stuff is much more unrefined. As the notes on the back of my promo pak say, an "angelraping sound".

    Heh. Okay, but despite the undeniably more intense sound, Demonic is still a second or third-generation black metal band. This stuff is well-produced (a bit treble heavy, but with all those cymbals crashing and stuff, well, that's kinda natural) and like I said, the songs do follow a structure of sorts. With some awesome riffage grinding the whole process along, I might add.

    A nice wave of agony and pain. I gotta admit that I like the Dawn album better, but I know plenty of folks who will lean to the Demonic side of things. This is the more extreme album, and it's pretty damned impressive.

    Sniff, sniff. Tears in my eyes. Black metal has grown. How can it be? Guess it's time for another past-the-edge form to take its place.


    Demons and Wizards
    Demons & Wizards
    (SPV)
    reviewed in issue #195, 2/14/00

    Take Jon Schaffer (the main guy behind Iced Earth) on guitars and add in Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian on vocals. Well, it's fairly involved Euro-metal, of course. Lots of power, lots of melody and more than a few over-the-top wails.

    See, though, that's one of my favorite comfort foods. Iced Earth is one of the most creative bands around, and while this album is a bit more restrained than IE, the feel is similar. Certainly it's a fine tonic for those who claim that metal is idiotic music.

    Nope, this material is nicely complex, with Schaffer's trademark classical lines. The sound is a bit gauzy at times, but I'm pretty sure that was intentional. It works alright, though I think this fare justifies a cleaner sound.

    Plenty good, plenty good. It's been a while since I've heard truly fine Euro-metal. And this more than qualifies.


    The Demos
    Lovely
    (Young Lion of the West)
    reviewed in issue #329, August 2011

    Few album titles are as appropriate as this one. The Demos play perfectly lovely pop music. Lush harmonies, ringing guitar leads and punchy rhythms. I mean, could anything be better for summer?

    Not that I can think of right off the bat. How deep does this stuff go? Hard to say, though there's enough here to make me like it better and better each time I hear it. That's gotta count for something.

    The sound is indie pop, and so there's not much sheen. Even more stripped down than the first Shins album (and I'm only talking about the sound, because the Demos have very little to do with the former kings of Albuquerque, other than the occasional martial beat), which lets all of the pieces find plenty of space.

    More proof that these songs have what it takes. Solid work. Sunny, rollicking stuff that hit my ears just in time to head out to the beach. Time to pack the umbrella and the beer.


    Denison/Kimball Trio
    Walls in the City
    (Skin Graft-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #63, 9/30/94

    The trio is a duo, and the only instruments around are a guitar, brushed snare, bass drum, bongos and the occasional cymbal. Dull? Not if it's going to be on Skin Graft.

    This is the second Skin Graft jazz soundtrack to an indie movie shot in Chicago in a couple months. The Denison is Duane Denison of Jesus Lizard. Kimball would be Jim Kimball, who was with Laughing Hyenas before he parted ways with Mule. And the Lizard's David Yow has a part in the movie. Sounds damned incestual to me.

    I'd say keep it in the family if it sounds like this. Denison has plenty of great things to say with his guitar, and Kimball keeps the mood moving behind the traps. Like most soundtracks, the music doesn't vary much from the main theme, but Denison and Kimball seem to manage to squeeze one more inventive variation out of the mix.

    Simply cool. What else to say?


    Neutrons
    (Quarterstick-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #138, 7/7/97

    A while back, I described a bad as "Jesus Lizard plays jazz". One of the band members wrote back, saying that the Denison Kimball Trio was Jesus Lizard playing jazz. I said, sure, if you want to take that literally. He seemed shocked that I'd heard of this nifty project.

    And now that Jim Kimball is continuing his run through the Touch and Go lineup by assuming drumming responsibilities for Jesus Lizard (at least for the summer), this appellation is even more accurate. In addition to the rather awesome rhythms Denison and Kimball assemble, Ken Vandermark adds various and sundry reed instrumentation and Tom Bickley joins in on recorder.

    With this fuller sound, DK3 proceeds to eliminate all rational musical thought and travel on some higher plane. Tight and yet utterly free, each song rises from its base concept to fully flower on its own.

    Unsettling, to be sure. But rather worth the adventure.

    See also Firewater, Jesus Lizard, Laughing Hyenas, Mule and Tomahawk.



    Sam Densmore's Silverhawk Flowers in June EP
    (Pop Sweatshop)
    reviewed in issue #211, 1/29/01

    Don't know whether to file this under "Densmore" or "Silverhawk," though since Sam Densmore writes the songs, sings and plays guitar I figured I'd stick it in the Ds.

    Four songs from a three-piece power pop outfit. Densmore writes lean songs. The sound isn't fuzzed out. The harmonies aren't layered. In other words, the writing had better be good, because there's nothing to cover up weaknesses.

    The writing is good. Yes, it's right out of Big Star, and in a good way. Densmore doesn't go right for the jugular, but rather prefers to make small incisions. The sound may be somewhat slight, but the overall effect is anything but.


    Ku-Thar'-Tik (Sad Songs for a Sad World/Cat Years) double EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #337, May 2012

    I think this ended up being released in two pieces, with Cat Years being the more recent entry. Not sure, and it doesn't matter. To my ears, Sam Densmore has finally found himself as a songwriter.

    His stuff with Silverhawk was okay, but generally up-and-down. The work on these two EPs is more subdued, but also much more consistent. He's got a voice now, and his songs work much better.

    The sound is extremely muddled and lo-fi, but that suits Densmore's understated delivery. These songs sound old, and the production plays that up to the hilt.

    Is it folk? Rock? Americana? Something else? Yes. Densmore sounds like he's simply tossing off song after song. But after a while, it becomes apparent how good these pieces really are. No matter how you might classify this release, it's a a winner.


    Sam Densmore & Curtis Irie
    Quit Work Make Music
    (self-released)
    reviewed 1/20/15

    Better known for their own work, Sam Densmore and Curtie Irie get together to record four songs from each. Those expecting Densmore's work to be rootsier and Irie's to be a bit loopier will be surprised. Densmore seems to have calmed Irie just a bit, and Irie seems to sent Densmore in some lovely new directions.

    The set is utterly eclectic, though modern pop is probably the central theme. The sounds range widely ("Who?" can best be described as reggae-inflected laptop pop, for example), and the ideas are similarly expansive.

    Some artists blast out of the gate and then slowly fade. Both Densmore and Irie seem to be getting stronger and more adventurous as time passes. This set is just the latest example of their respective maturations.

    The songs pass by too quickly. Luckily, there's this thing called repeat. And the fact that Densmore and Irie are among the more prolific songwriters around. There's always a new album around the corner (if it hasn't arrived already).

    Quite the lovely snack. I'm in for seconds and thirds, to be sure.


    The DeRita Sisters and Junior
    Too Lazy To Steal
    (Real George)
    reviewed in issue #127, 1/27/97

    Lo-fi, high energy punk. Thirty-two songs in 69 minutes. Now, that's punk (flash to a model in a skimpy outfit with shiny teeth, holding up the CD). Or something like that.

    The playing is rather sloppy, and the recording wisely compliments this attribute. The whole thing is damned noisy and at times incoherent, but the songs are catchy and funny (titles like "Stop Me Before I Fuck Again" and "Shittin' in Tall Cotton" help to keep that impression going). Nothing to complain about.

    This stuff would go real well with that Dr. Bob's Nightmare album I reviewed a couple months back. Bands that don't give much of a shit about anything but having fun playing music. I can't help but bob along.

    I guess the only real failing is that there isn't anything particularly distinctive about the DeRita Sisters and Junior. I'll just have to be satisfied with a good time.


    Derjason
    It Don't Show
    (Smokeylung)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    The "band" is Derek and Jason Richey, with a few friends. The music is loosely-constructed lo-fi beats and plenty of samples. Nothing particularly innovative in the rhythms, but lots of interesting things going on up top.

    Jason did the beats and samples, and Derek did the guitars and singing. What's so interesting about the sampled work is the laid-back way in which Jason incorporates all of his sounds into the music. There's piano, trumpet and plenty of other instrumentation which just falls into the songs.

    Derek's vocals do have something of a Jad Fair quality, though not as quivering. Certainly, they lend to the otherworldly sound of the project. That's the real trick. All of this is just on the other side of normal, and that lends an even more eerie quality to the songs.

    Just on the other side of tomorrow. Or yesterday. Or something. This is the sort of project that improves its stature the more it is studied. Peel it away layer by layer and see what you can find.


    Jon DeRosa
    Anchored EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #334, February 2012

    Pop from the classical chamber. Jon DeRosa prefers vibraphone to organ, and he's not above substituting cello for guitar. Oh, and he throws in as much brass as is possible. These songs use a pop construction, but implement more of a classical instrumentation.

    The songs themselves are introspective musings on the nature of love. Then there's the cover of "Submarine Bells," which is utterly charming. That last doesn't quite fit in lyrically, but musically it's just about perfect.

    A completely understated EP. Intense, especially in the lyrics, but not the sort of stuff to set the feet a-tapping. Rather, this sets the brain afire. I'm all for that.


    Rick Derringer
    Electra Blues
    (Blues Bureau-Shrapnel)
    reviewed in issue #62, 9/15/94

    He has been at this rock'n blues game for a long time. I just wish he would find a little soul.

    Derringer has all of the technical skills necessary to play about whatever he wants to. He's got a pretty good blues voice. He writes all of the songs here, and they're pretty good. Unfortunately, I just don't hear him pouring his heart into either his singing or playing. It's all by-the-note kinda stuff.

    Which means he's about as interesting as the Sunday house blues band at the local metal bar. You can sit and admire his playing all day, that won't change the fact that this is still amazingly average. Yeah, Jeff Healey got by sluffing off emotion, too, but he had a major label marketing department behind him. And where is Mr. Healey today?

    Derringer could do a lot better. I'm holding him to that.


    Blues Deluxe
    (Blues Bureau-Shrapnel)
    reviewed in #164, 8/3/98

    Mostly covers on this set, and once again, I want to hear Derringer actually get the blues. Just a little. It sounds like he's simply running through the chords.

    Too bad, really, since his voice is ideally suited to the sort of rockin' blues that he's been playing of late. His guitar work is solid, if unimpressive. It's just that there's a definite lack of soul here. Pain? Nowhere to be heard.

    Must say that the songs which feature piano (as opposed to more organ-style keyboards) do provide a more authentic feel. Honestly, organ is a great blues instrument, but piano colors the sound better. And since Derringer can't quite seem to convince me he's blue, well, something has to take up the slack.

    Technically sound, but emotionally lacking. There's no primal scream (or even a small yelp) that I can latch onto. And even uptempo blues has feeling.


    The Will Derryberry Band
    LIVE August 31, 1999
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #198, 4/17/00

    Perhaps it's a really good idea for a young band to record a live album. Instead of getting lost behind some producer in the studio, the guys can just sell their songs the way they want them sold.

    Also, instead of getting typecast one way or another, the band is able to move around a bit while establishing its sound. See, I was worried at first that the Will Derryberry band was just another groove band. This first song led me that way.

    It was a decent groove song, actually, but nothing spectacular. Then the band shifted into a full-on blues gear. Yeah, a crafted, white-guy kinda blues, but Derryberry's voice has some soul and the live arrangements don't get excessive. Indeed, I think the live setting may have saved this set.

    As long as Derryberry and company keep this understated sound, they could go far. Just some solid blue hooks sung with intensity and grace. Keep that guitar out front and don't go overboard on the organ. There just might be something here.


    Deru
    Say Goodbye to Useless
    (Mush)
    reviewed in issue #315, March 2010

    Deru starts this album somewhat elliptically, with something in (I think) French. And then things slowly begin to pick up. The skill involved in such an impressive slow rollout is almost impossible to fathom. Very few folks can pull it off. After a couple of listens, I can't imagine a better way for this album to kick off.

    There's a bit of the ol' electronic collage going on, but Deru seems to prefer the more organic DJ sound when putting together these pieces. Each song has a dominant beat and is accompanied by a wide array of sounds.

    The feel is cool, but not chilly. Ruminative, I suppose. The feel of a chill-down after-party, where folks are comfortable just hanging out. No pressure, but lots of pleasure.

    Every piece of sound has plenty of space to express itself. I like that; it gives my brain enough time to do some actual thinking. Of course, the slinky feel of these pieces often gives rise to other, less intellectual pursuits. C'est la vie.


    Desar
    Land of the Blind
    (Silent Spirit)
    reviewed in issue #166, 8/31/98

    Pretty much a one-man project (with some writing help here and there). Where Bitter Grace is a kick-ass Goth band, Lucien Desar is on the ethereal side of the tracks. And he does that just as well.

    The lyrics cover the usual creepy death and suffering-obsessed subjects, but what I dig is the underlying music. Desar utilizes a number of unusual percussive sounds for his beats, and while most of the orchestration is keyboarded one way or another, he still manages to create a nicely haunting sound.

    There's a lot here to like, in terms of quantity. The notes say that Desar has been working on this for about seven years. Somewhat obsessive attention to detail serves the songs and the sound well. A well-crafted set.

    Yeah, it's music for the skinny folks in black who like to dance in some sort of mutilated waltz style. That said, it's great music, period. Don't judge the artist by the fans. Just dig the music.


    Descendents
    Cool to Be You
    (Fat Wreck Chords)
    reviewed in issue #253, May 2004

    Before the recent "reunion" disc on Epitaph, I'd never really thought about how much Chad Price--the current ALL singer--sounds like Milo Aukerman. Much more so than Scott Reynolds or Dave Smalley. But the rest of the band is the same, so I guess it shouldn't matter who's singing. The songs themselves are fairly similar in style--though the boys in the bands swear they have a "sixth sense" when it comes to picking material for one or the other. Enough bullshit analysis. Is this album just a tired retread or does it kick ass? I think it's fair to say that many of ALL's more recent outings have been somewhat disappointing--a lot of strident anger and not nearly enough fun--but this puppy sounds good for the long haul. Even an earnest protest song like "'Merican" keeps things peppy.

    And, yes, the production is vintage Blasting Room. These boys didn't get slapped with the "caffeine punk" label for nothing. These songs percolate along at a fast clip, keeping the thick riffage churning.

    So, no, this isn't a tired retread. It's another solid latter-day Descendents album that stands up quite nicely next to the classics. The boys may have mellowed just a tad, but the occasional bit of introspection simply adds a bit more depth. Lots and lots of fun.


    Desert City Soundtrack
    (contents of distraction)
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #236, December 2002

    One of the great things about emo is the way that it has brought the piano back to rock and roll. Bands like Bon Jovi really wore out that tinny keyboard sound, and it's been a while since anyone really used the piano as the truly dynamic instrument that it is.

    Okay, so Three Mile Pilot did (as does the Black Heart Procession). Bad Astronaut does as well. Maybe my whole premise there is out of whack. Whatever. Desert City Soundtrack has a dedicated piano (and organ) player to go along with the usual guitar, bass and drums, and these boys use the piano as well as anyone I've heard in some time.

    It may seem odd that I'm focusing so much on one instrument, but it's the use of that one piece of the sound that really sets these boys apart. The writing is spectacular, I know, and the full production sound really rings when it's cooking just right. But I always come back to the piano.

    Oh, yeah, this is emo in the same way that Appleseed Cast is emo. There is an offhand grandeur to the songs that fits that label, I guess, but mostly what this is is Desert City Soundtrack music. And now that I know what that means, I can say it is a very fine thing, indeed.


    Funeral Car
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #247, November 2003

    These boys really impressed me with their album last year, and this one picks right up where that left off. The trend of using piano and horns in punk music (in a non-ska setting, that is) is still coming over the horizon, but I like the approach. Take the energy and vitality of punk and add some new melodic elements.

    Desert City Soundtrack, of course, isn't particularly melodic. It's more like the melodies are implied. The vocals are distinctly off-kilter, and the music rambles in and out of tune. Or, if Christiansen is a rougher-edged update of Jawbox, let's say these folks are a more raucous Archers of Loaf.

    Indeed, the approach is very similar. Even the most blistering track is still based on a piano line, and the songs tend to clump themselves somewhat clumsily around whatever idea the keys are providing. You might think this sounds messy. It is. Sublimely so.

    A step forward. And if you recall that last year's album was a feature, well, that's saying something. Desert City Soundtrack has a hold of something truly special. If the band continues to hew this road, well, greatness just might emerge.


    Perfect Addiction
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #269, October 2005

    Desert City Soundtrack hasn't been around for the longest time, but I think it's time to acknowledge what seems almost inescapable: This trio from Portland is quite likely the most creative, even brilliant, band in the world.

    Yes, this stuff sounds "important" (in that urgent, almost pretentious way), but what sets these boys apart is their ability to shift gears (and keys and time signatures and...) without losing focus. Each turn of the corner pulls the listener in closer, every little tic further binds the ear to the song. This is something that can't be taught, though it must be learned.

    And, of course, piano is an important instrument (piano-oriented rock is, of course, all the rage these days, especially in the mainstream), but frequently the keys are used as percussion as much as melodic elements. Desert City Soundtrack uses every single sound and trick at its disposal to create its music, and the result is a richness beyond compare.

    Bathe in the luxury, if you like. The sheer weight of the ideas on this disc is staggering. But the approachability of the music is perhaps the most stunning thing of all. Your mom would probably like this, though not necessarily for the same reasons you might. The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that no one does it better.


    The Desert Fathers
    The Spirituality
    (Threespheres)
    reviewed in issue #245, September 2003

    Recorded by Steve Albini and Greg Norman (not the golfer, of course), which is hard to believe at times. Sure, there's some seriously trippy (in a shattered and shrill sorta way) guitar work, but there's also some seriously involved vocal work. The kinda thing Albini is famous for dismissing out of hand.

    No need to get into the personality of the producers, though. The Desert Fathers deserve all the attention that is humanly possible. It's pretty much impossible to classify this stuff, except to say that it rarely makes sense in any conventional way. Every one in a while the bass and drums line up for a bar or two, but that's about it.

    Despite the discordant sound and deconstructive impulses of the band, the songs themselves fall together quite nicely. Sure, you've gotta kinda listen past the music and let it coalesce slowly within your brain, but that's a good thing. These boys challenge, and the rewards are immense.

    Utterly unlike anything I've heard before, certainly when the scope of the sounds on this disc is taken into account. The Desert Fathers have created an entirely original work, one that isn't a walk in the park, perhaps, but still is well worth the journey. Here's to getting lost in new ideas.


    Desoto Jones
    Aurora
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #293, February 2008

    I know that My Chemical Romance didn't invent the doomy pop-punk-metal anthem, but no one has done more (certainly in a commercial sense) with the sound. Desoto Jones doesn't do a whole lot to mess with the formula, but it sure does things right.

    Right down to the combination of speed, power and melody that drives some of the best songs of this genre. Kinda like Rage-era Queensryche run through an emo filter. That might sound horrific to you, but I dig it a lot.

    The sound is moderately worn (not so shiny) when compared to the likes of MCR, but not by much. This isn't a rip-off or homage; the bands simply ply similar waters. Desoto Jones is--by far--the more aggressive of the two. I like that. When in doubt, play harder and faster.

    Well done. Nothing earth-shattering, I suppose, but fun nonetheless. And when the songs really start racing, so does my heart.


    Despair
    Beyond All Reason
    (Century Media)
    reviewed in issue #9, 3/15/92

    Tasty.

    I don't usually use such words in reviews because I find Yuppie slang to be rather annoying. But, I can find no other word to describe this album.

    The mid-80's Euro-metal boon (Maiden of the time, Helloween, even Queensryche of that era) was a happy one for me. Nice to see someone has kept the faith.

    And in a grand way. While their CM debut last year was a little lacking both in production and song quality, this release has both to spare. While the Maiden comparisons are obvious, rumbling underneath it all you can see a death connection as well.

    Lots of you have already noticed this. Good. Maybe the rest will take the time to discover a gem.


    Alice Despard
    Push Me Pull You
    (Deep Reverb)
    reviewed in issue #175, 1/25/99

    Perhaps better known as the keeper of the Galaxy Hut, a cool spot for finding music in D.C., Despard has also been playing herself for ages. The press page claims that she writes songs on a par with Patti Smith and Neil Young. Well, now, there's some shoes to fill.

    Amazingly, though, she does alright. The Smith connection is easy to hear. Despard's voice is somewhat husky, and she does have a thing for somewhat messy guitar lines. But the real key is the writing, and Despard comes through. She has a knack for writing unflinchingly powerful songs which can't escape the brain, no matter what.

    The trick, of course, is writing this stuff consistently. Despard has been working this material for eight years. It is brilliant and astonishing, but it's also one album. Still, as one album goes, this one is wonderful. Each song simply draws me in further. The end brings withdrawal.

    It's just the new year, and already I think I've heard one of 1999's best. There isn't much more to say. Despard deserves klieg lights and champagne. Would that I could provide.


    (as Alice Despard Group)
    Alice Despard Group EP
    (Arlingtone)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    Six songs in 30 minutes. An EP or short full-length? I go with EP. Could be wrong. Doesn't matter so much, really, because it's simply a pleasure to hear new songs from Despard.

    The group is a trio, but that "change" in form had little effect on the songs themselves. Despard's voice is intimate and challenging. She is able to use her words to expose universal feelings. Sure, that's the goal of most songwriters. Despard just seems to have a natural gift that way.

    The elegant, elegiac pieces tumble forth, each moving at deliberate speed but with full emotional impact. It is so rare to hear someone at the top of her game like this; I simply sit and marvel.

    And hit repeat, of course. Despard is truly amazing. This short disc simply cements her position as one of the top singer/songwriters around. If you care about good music, this is simply a must.


    (as Alice Despard Group)
    Thinning of the Veil
    (Arlingtone)
    reviewed in issue #243, July 2003

    Alice Despard is one of the great songwriters going these days. That she's been around D.C. for almost forever probably has something to do with that. Couldn't hurt.

    If her writing skills weren't enough, Despard has a haunting, low-alto voice that immediately brings chills to the spine. She uses it well, holding back its full power until just the right spot in each song.

    Despard's songs generally resemble road trips. They meander, often running through the same territory over and over again until ultimately cresting the hill and discovering a stunning vista. This isn't conventional by any standard, but that doesn't mean these songs are difficult to grasp. Just the opposite. Despard's repetitive approach is hypnotizing, and she always snaps her fingers at just the right moment.

    I'm not sure I can say much more than I have in the past. Despard is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. She's unique and utterly compelling. I can't think of a higher compliment.


    Destroyer
    Destroyer
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    A Romanian band that plays a sort of techno version of the Pantallica sound. Sounds a lot like the semi-industrial feel Pantera got on its Cowboys from Hell album. I think the odd sound comes from the recording procedure, but who knows?

    The songs are kinda generic and dated by American standards, though I like the feel. The playing is more than adequate, but the writing simply doesn't pass muster.

    The largest record concern in Romania released a full-length from these guys, and I can understand how this stuff would go over very well in places not quite as oversaturated with this sound as we Americans are. Music here has moved on. Destroyer needs to do more innovating and less imitating.


    Desultory
    Into Eternity
    (Metal Blade)
    reviewed in issue #27, 1/31/93

    If death metal is going to make its way into the households of suburban America, it will take more albums like this one. It is cleanly produced, cleanly performed music that is almost radio-ready.

    That's Album-Oriented Radio ready, as you folks will be devouring it momentarily. Bands like Desultory and Tiamat are both on the track to bringing death metal a little closer to respectability. But do we really want that? Well, that's a question I will be answering whilst I sit on a panel at the "Rock and Rap" convention in Columbia, MO next week. My answer is yes and no.

    Sure, it would be nice to have cool music played on the radio so we could listen to it. But while we liked Seattle stuff like Mudhoney, Green River and Soundgarden a few years ago, those bands evolved and subtly changed their sounds (not to mention names and line-ups) and are now welcomed with open arms. It will take more classic rock riffs and keyboards to get death metal on the airwaves.

    I like the new sound. I like the old guard. And I love this album.


    Bitterness
    (Metal Blade)
    reviewed in issue #57, 6/30/94

    I said it with the release of their last album, and I will say it again: Desultory is the face of commercial death metal.

    Sure, there are obvious references to Slayer, but there is a better sense of songwriting in the Desultory camp. Better riffs and the occasional intelligent lyric, which Tom Araya will be accused of when hell freezes over.

    A general coherence pervades. This makes sense. It grooves. Yes, it is some distance from the old school of death metal, but if you're fans of Tiamat or anyone who has tried to inject some melody into death metal, then you should be digging in.

    Desultory is one lean machine. There is no excess, only glory.


    The Details
    Draw a Distance. Draw a Border
    (Parliment of Trees)
    reviewed in issue #294, March 2008

    Vocally, this reminds me of the Rocket Summer. The music itself is more assured and much slicker. Which isn't a bad thing; a little production never hurt anyone. What really catches my ear is the way these songs make an immediate emotional connection.

    Ah, yes, the etymology of emo does, in fact, reference "emotion." Though back in the day (what, fifteen years ago?), most of the emo bands were actually kinda minimalist. How these things get all switched around.

    But not the Details. No bait-and-switch here. Nothing complicated. Nothing underhanded. Just solidly-written pieces that have been arranged and played with verve. Works for me.

    In fact, it works really well. The Details seem to have figured out that the easiest way to make good music is to clear out all the crap. Which might well be a shout out to those old minimalist emo outfits of the last century. Or maybe they figured it simply worked the best. Funny thing is, the music doesn't care. It only wants to be good. And this is.


    Deutsch Nepal
    Comprendido!... Time Stop!... And World Ending
    (Release-Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #129, 3/3/97

    Wonderfully rich and full noise stuff. All the samples and tape loops you expect, a full dose of white noise and distortion and then the kicker: real live songwriting.

    There's structure here. Not rigid or constraining, but a definite pattern to the underlying sound. Deutsch Nepal uses every available tool to further its vision, and the results are stunning.

    The real key here is the production, which doesn't skimp on the outlying sound. Instead of excessive sharpness, or the dull muffle of inexperience, Deutsch Nepal has an almost overpowering grasp of a pure sound, something that is stronger than the visceral universe.

    Wonderful, amazing, dark, penetrating. None of these words can begin to describe my amazement. A beautiful work.


    Deviate
    Darkened World
    (I Scream-NRG)
    reviewed in issue #176, 2/8/99

    A compilation of songs from the Belgian hardcore band. They don't sound Belgian, whatever that statement might mean. They sound American, whatever that statement might mean.

    Not particularly distinctive, though the boys do have a nice sense of rhythm. Yeah, they're pissed, and yeah, they've got the near-mosh swirl all set to shred, but there's nothing particularly new about the approach.

    Yes, I know, these songs were recorded between 1992-1996. Yes, I know these guys are very well known in Europe and have played with a lot of top bands. Hey, the sound is professional and sharp. The songs aren't clunky, they're just boring.

    I demand a bit more, some flash of originality. Hardcore hardcore fans, as it were, would probably eat this up with a stick. I just don't fit there. That's how it is.


    Willy DeVille
    Loup Garou
    (Discovery)
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #6, 7/1/96

    He's always been around, but for some reason never quite able to crank out the big hit album that would burst his career into the big time. Perhaps it's because DeVille has no real intention of writing something snappy and insipid.

    And while the music on this disc would do quite well with folks who dig Van Morrison or Robbie Robertson (folks who have sold well, if not spectacularly, in the past few years), I'm not sure if that's where the marketing for this lies.

    That's not my concern, though. DeVille has crafted a set of songs that borrow from all over his musical roots, from Mexico to Mississippi to New York and back to New Orleans. Plenty of lilting pop gems that seem perfect for lazy evenings of sipping and sitting.

    And the production focuses on his voice, which is an instrument as interesting as his songwriting. DeVille never fails to put himself fully into the songs, and the result is this fine set. Yeah, some of the tunes seem a bit too sedated for my speed, but that sounds like my own personal problem. Loup Garou is a pure, simple pleasure.


    Kevin Devine
    Split the Country, Split the Streets
    (Triple Crown)
    reviewed in issue #263, April 2005

    Understated songs that sound kinda slight at first listen. Then you start to pick up on the slyly subversive ideas that Kevin Devine is kicking about. He's got a slightly cracked viewpiece on the world, and that's what makes this album really sing.

    The music is very basic, sometimes just Devine and his guitar--though he's more than willing to overdub his own vocals and employ all sorts of sneaky studio tricks to add just the slightest bit of sonic definition. Indeed, there's always more texture than I anticipated.

    Even when Devine rocks out, he holds back a bit. He never screams or shouts. He keeps his voice on an even keel and lets his lyrics do the talking. This wouldn't work if the music weren't so wonderfully arranged. There's always that little bit extra that helps the songs pop out.

    It might take a while, but this album will sneak up and bite you in the ass. There's a lot more here than you might catch on first listen. Keep working it and you'll find treasure.


    Devo
    Music from Adventures of the Smart Patrol CD-Rom
    (Discovery)
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #8, 8/26/96

    About half new stuff (most of which is uninspired) and half golden oldies like "Whip It". In fact, the packaging is pretty much an ad for the game.

    Excuse me, make that "multimedia experience". And many of the oldies have been re-recorded (I think; the notes aren't very helpful here). But this is the mechanical band; it's not like there's a whole lot of difference.

    Even for hard core fans, I can't imagine what the attraction might be. Yeah, this stuff is alright, but I'm pretty sure there's a greatest hits out there somewhere with more tracks than this puppy has.

    Oh, yeah, if you're really interested, there's a couple solo performances by Devoids. Not that you'd notice any difference.

    Soundtracks in general suck. This isn't much different, even if it is Devo.


    Devon
    Long Sleeve Story
    (Three Word Records)
    reviewed in issue #221, 9/3/01

    An interesting counterpoint to the Jennifer Daniels album I reviewed earlier in this issue. Devon (Sproule) is also a singer-songwriter, but not as accomplished. She wears her influences on her sleeve (Liz Phair, Alanis, Lisa Loeb--in a pinch) without really integrating them into her own sound.

    And that sound is overproduced. Not as full or lush as Daniels achieved, but all the cascading guitars and drum machines work to obscure the songwriting. In this case, that's sometimes a good thing. Devon isn't a bad writer, but she does resort to easy solutions now and again.

    Combined with the exceedingly-overbearing production and the album ends up sounding fairly generic. Which is too bad, really. I think Devon does have some interesting things to say, and some of her songs are pretty good.

    But she needs to work on them some more, and then once she hits studio she has to have enough confidence in what she does to put herself, and not the production, out front.


    deVries
    Death to God
    (Noise on Noise)
    reviewed in issue #312, November 2009

    Travis DeVries (once of the Turn Ons) moved from Seattle to New York and started anew. This newest incarnation in full of intimate and shimmery pieces.

    Somewhere between the Brian Jonestown Massacre and mid-70s Bowie, I suppose. There's also an interesting T.Rex splinter in the sound, though these songs rarely bound.

    Most of the time the pieces move by at a modest pace, inviting introspection and engendering a certain languid mood. The sound is fairly muddy, lending even more of a hang-out feel to the disc.

    Indeed, you've really got to sit still for this one. By and large, Travis DeVries doesn't write songs that are immediately arresting (though "Boys are Bores" is an obvious exception), and his band seems intent on moving at his pace. Hey, it works, so no complaints from my end. Something to chew on.


    Dewey Defeats Truman
    The Road to Nowhere Maps E.P.
    (Has Anyone Ever Told You?)
    reviewed in issue #226, February 2002

    Soaring, crunchy emo. Dewey Defeats Truman shouts out its ideas, but never fails to back them up with some strong melodies. These songs sometimes sound streamofconsciousness, but in fact the arrangements are quite tightly wound up.

    And sounding loose when the reality is anything but is a talent that few bands can accomplish. At first, I thought the ideas within the pieces hadn't been fully developed. And then I realized that I'd been led by the hand through the whole logic proof. The writing is that subtle and that strong. These six songs pass by much too quickly for me. Time to hit repeat.


    DFA
    Work in Progress Live
    (Moonjune)
    reviewed in issue #222, 9/24/01

    Prog bands generally do not have steady live gigs in the U.S. Too bad, really, because the technical nature of the music is probably best expressed live, where a band can fiddle a bit with the original work.

    DFA is Italian, and this is its first U.S. show. The playing is top-notch, showing that these guys have taken the stage plenty of times in Europe. The stuff here is still rather detached from the audience (more than I would have expected, anyway), but there is still a feeling of improvisation from time to time.

    The sound is studio quality. Not only do these guys know how to play live, their engineer did a first-rate job as well. So well, in fact that I think that was the reason behind the detached sound I noted earlier.

    It sure does help to be a prog fan to really get into this disc. But if that's a passion of yours, DFA sure does have the chops. The songs are wide-ranging and exciting, and the performances here are great. Well worth searching out.


    Dial M
    Close Your Eyes
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #224, 11/5/01

    Wander back with me ten or so years ago. Back when "industrial" or "techno" or "ambient" were the main forms of electronic music. At least, that's what we called them. Dial M would be at home in that era, combining heavy, funky beats (not quite hip-hop, not quite rock) with sample-driven songs.

    Done with a light touch, mind you. A lot like later Die Warzau, if you ask me. There is a bit more of a techno touch on the keyboards, not to mention less of a reliance on jazz construction, but the sounds are fairly similar.

    Dial M's skill shows in how well the samples are fused into songs. These aren't cludgy constructions; they're sophisticated compositions that are as toe-tapping as the beats.

    A fun set, one that impresses almost as much s it invigorates. Dial M's light touch on the material puts a new spin on the sound, one that's most welcome to my ears. Hard to quibble with creativity such as this.


    Alpha Yaya Diallo
    Aduna
    (Tinder)
    reviewed in issue #169, 10/12/98

    A compilation of songs from some of Diallo's albums showcases his formidable guitar playing talent. His lyrics are fairly introspective and poetic (as best I can judge, going by translation), but the guitar is magical. Diallo plays a variety of west African styles, often merging different traditions in order to create his own sound.

    Diallo doesn't shy away from Western music influences, either. Songs like "Le Futur" (the one song sung in French, and probably for this very reason) utilize rock rhythms as well as more traditional elements. It all sounds so natural, so effortless, as if Diallo simply plays what's in his head at the moment.

    Well, I'm just sitting here entranced by the guitar. Diallo plays in a very technical fashion, but he still imbues his picking with a light feel, relieving any pressure that the highly-skilled runs might have built up. This is a man who knows how to make his music felt.

    Wonderful sounds, pure and simple. Everything is done very well, but the guitar is simply astonishing. I can't get away from that. I simply haven't heard anyone quite like this. Amazing.


    Dianogah
    As Seen from Above
    (Ohio Gold)
    reviewed in issue #141, 8/18/97

    Somewhere between ³that whole emo thing² and ³that weird-ass Chicago pop stuff², if youknowwhatImean. Sounds a lot like the Regrets, in that the guitar and bass lines are incredibly involved, but still sound laid back much of the time. A nice trick.

    Every once in a while there¹s singing, though the music tends to be less interesting on those songs. I prefer the instrumentals; they say much more than the lyrics on the songs with singing.

    Since there isn¹t much singing (even on the ³singing² songs), I don¹t have a whole lot to complain about. Dianogah has a real nice touch on this sorta music and is able to take elements from all sorts of styles and incorporate them into a nice, coherent sound.

    A very satisfying album, The more I hear, the better it gets. Definitely worth searching out.


    Hannibal 7"
    (Southern)
    reviewed in issue #214, 4/2/01

    Just the one-word title on the A side. The flip goes by "A Bear Explains the Right and Wrong Ways to Put on a Shirt, Shoes, Pants and a Cap." I'm not kidding. On marbled green vinyl, no less.

    Well, then, there's the music itself. Dianogah hasn't changed much since the last time I checked in. The guys still can play a languid, looping instrumental like no one's business. I kept waiting for the bite to kick in. It never quite did, though there's still plenty of intensity within the general laid-back nature of the songs.

    Perhaps I'm being a little vague for you. If you're not already in the know, Dianogah hangs out in the same musical world as Don Caballero or Shipping News, albeit not so stridently. The ideas are similar. It's just that the expression is a bit kinder. Just as sophisticated and intense, but still kinder. There's nothing wrong with that.


    Millions of Brazilians
    (Southern)
    reviewed in issue #228, April 2002

    Ah, yes, the band whose name I misspelled for years on end. I mean, I must've called these guys "Diagonah" is fifty different references. Trust me. Go into my archives. I bet I haven't cleaned all of them up yet.

    Thing is, I love Dianogah. Really. Now that June of 44 has kicked off, these guys just might be my favorite band in the entire universe. You know I happen to be smitten with meandering instrumentals that give jazz/rock fusion a serious kick in the ass. Truth be told, I love to let my brain simply float along and take a break from the annoyance of reality. Dianogah is pretty much perfect for such excursions.

    This album shows the boys in fine form. It's funny; I like the band so much I really can't make a serious judgment as to the quality of the album relative to other releases. I will say that the sound is more refined and somewhat less aggressive than I've heard in the past, but the writing is as assertive and intense as ever.

    That's the key, really. The quality of an album lies in the grooves, in how moving the music is. That's it. And once again, Dianogah has entranced me. I lie under the sway of the music, and I must follow. Catch you on the other side.


    Diatribe
    Diatribe
    (Reconstriction)
    reviewed in issue #124, 12/2/96

    Hasn't Diatribe had an album before this one? I scoured my mind, and then checked the press. Nope. It just seems that way.

    I first heard the band alongside Chemlab, Malhavoc and Skrew on the Assimilation 12", where the band's tracks pushed Chemlab pretty hard for ace honors. And then came the cover of the Sugarcubes' "Cold Sweat" on the Shut Up Kitty compilation. And a few other compilation and single appearances, but no full-length. Until now.

    Plenty of commercial nods, such as easy choruses and a blocked-out, riff-heavy sound, but Diatribe isn't playing to the masses here. This is a solid effort that connects on every level. The power is palpable in every track. Once again, Diatribe is put in the unenviable position of competing against Chemlab (whose album has been out for a couple months), and once again, the fight is fairly even. Diatribe is bit more anthemic and likes to get a good groove throbbing, but the comparisons are still fair.

    Infectious to the extreme. The wait may have been long, but the payoff is big. Diatribe has thrown down, and now the unwashed must approach in fear.


    Ernesto Diaz-Infante
    Itz'at
    (Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    Not what most folks think of in terms of solo piano work. Ernesto Diaz-Infante is a master of subtlety and grace, allowing his ideas to grow slowly within his compositions. Some might toss this in the realm of new age, but I don't think so. While generally subdued and deliberate, Diaz-Infante's pieces are anything but trite and simplistic.

    Indeed, the sparse sound and slow-but-constant flow have a way of drawing the listener into Diaz-Infante's world, a place of beauty and intensity.

    The playing itself is somewhat choppy and inconsistent. Diaz-Infante is not a world-class player now, though he just might get there someday. What he can do is communicate his ideas through the piano, something many virtuosos are unable to do.

    A trip to another world. Not the most sophisticated writing or playing by any stretch of the imagination, but Diaz-Infante has what is required most: the gift of passion and emotion, which he conveys quite impressively.


    Tepeu
    (Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #166, 8/31/98

    The cynic would say that improvised solo piano work isn't much worth recording. Anyone can bash about, or something like that. Well, duh.

    But Diaz-Infante does more than bash about. While the improvisational nature of the pieces is apparent, he's got a spark of creativity that merges with his knowledge of music to create some fairly impressive pieces. Not wild and crazy by any stretch of the imagination, Diaz-Infante instead taps into a more contemplative and subconscious vibe. Not new age, really, as that would require a lot more attention to commercial detail. This is simply getting inside the head of a guy by listening to what his hands do. And maybe finding something out about yourself in the bargain.


    Ucross Journal
    (Pax Recordings) reviewed in issue #192, 12/6/99

    Some of you out there may know this already, but when you're an artist and someone likes you a whole lot, they'll pay for you to go somewhere really cool and just create. Ernesto Diaz-Infante got to spend a month in Wyoming as a guest of the Ucross Foundation. This disc has the compositions from his residency.

    About a minute or two per day. If you're familiar at all with Diaz-Infante's work, you know that he uses a spare style on the piano, leaving plenty of space between his chords. Indeed, he often allows the previous notes to die off before moving on to the next structure. Not a whole lot of "straight" melodic work, just moody stuff.

    Which works very well with what he saw in Wyoming. Panoramic landscapes, just beginning to come to life after winter. And so these pieces are somewhat more hopeful than what I'm used to from Diaz-Infante, but still utterly contemplative.

    Certainly, these pieces require a certain patience. They are anything but uptempo and accessible. But even so, Diaz-Infante infuses his pieces with a certain fragile fragile warmth, allowing the humanity to flow through.


    with Chris Forsyth
    Left & Right
    (Pax Recordings-Bottomfeeder) reviewed in issue #192, 12/6/99

    Here's how this one worked: Ernesto Diaz-Infante worked up a series of acoustic guitar pieces, taped them and sent them on to Chris Forsyth, who added his electric guitar musings.

    And unlike Diaz-Infante's piano works, these songs are anything but neat. Both guitarists scrape at the strings and wail at the universe. Sounds a bit like Marc Ribot or Henry Kaiser in their most agitated moments.

    While these pieces are more involved than what I'm used to from Diaz-Infante, the effect is just as haunting. The pieces sit just beneath the radar, touching an odd part of my subconscious. Somehow, they really make my skin crawl. I like that. A lot.

    I think the other part that really gets to me is that the guitars are not generally complimentary. They're competing with each other, challenging the other to find a new way to express the ideas already exposed. This disc contains some seriously stunning work.


    Solus
    (Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #198, 4/17/00

    What I like most about Ernesto Diaz-Infante is the way he is always heading off in a new direction. His last disc of solo piano work was a set of meditative pieces that consisted mostly of long chords shifting into one another. Like clouds on the highlands of Wyoming.

    This album's pieces (still titled "I", "II", etc.) are sort of an avant-garde version of bebop. On a piano, this sounds a little like popcorn, with notes jumping every which way, slowing down only when the kernels have all blown out.

    Like bebop, however, there is a structure and a rhythm behind the apparent madness. The "popping" always resolves, and those resolutions are tied together to give the pieces a thematic backbone. What sounds random and chaotic has purpose, after all.

    Diaz-Infante's rampant creativity always manages to surprise and overwhelm me, even though by now I should be prepared. One of these days, I'll learn for sure.


    (with Jeff Kaiser) Pith Balls and Inclined Planes
    (Pfmentum)
    reviewed in issue #201, 6/26/00

    Ernesto Diaz-Infante takes care of the acoustic guitar and some vague vocal work, and Jeff Kaiser does the rest, including manipulating samples from Diaz-Infante's Solus album.

    When I say guitar, by the way, that's the whole guitar. Not just strings resonating. There's tightening and untightening the strings, rubbing the neck, thumping the body ... just about every noise that can be made with a guitar.

    Kaiser does the same thing with his trumpet and flugelhorn. Yeah, sometimes they're "played" in a traditional sense. But there's a lot of "other" going on as well. The pieces themselves come together in the mind of the listener. They have to be assembled. Part of the experience is finding your own meaning.

    I know, most folks find such exercises tiring. Not me. There's such exuberance, such a sense of serendipity here that I just can't put it down. Does it make sense? Not all the time. Not yet. But this puppy is primed for many more listens down the road.


    (as W.O.O. Revelator and Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Pat Harman Duo)
    The First Time
    (Sweet Stuff)
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    Quite a while back I said some less than kind things about a W.O.O. album. I didn't think the folks were quite ready back in 1995. Perhaps I wasn't ready. It happens.

    W.O.O. Revelator improvises. Wildly. Freely. And so no version of a song sounds even vaguely like another. For this disc, the band invited Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Pat Harman to sit in. Since that review, Chris Forsyth and his guitar wizardry has joined the group. That's a big help. Diaz-Infante and Harman also help to create a wonderful atmosphere for creative ferment. This is otherworldly-sounding fare.

    Basically, no one else sounds like this. Not even W.O.O. Revelator, as the scene changes every night. But this intoxicating set of songs should be more than enough to encourage folks to see a show and become entranced in real life. Barring just, just plop this in the discer and revel.


    (as Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Chris Forsyth)
    Wires and Wooden Boxes
    (Evolving Ear/Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #218, 6/25/01

    In jazz, improvisation is studied. There are "right" and "wrong" ways to play, depending on the approach. Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Chris Forsyth play the wrong way. All the time.

    These improvisations are as much about found sound as they are about tonal theory. For example, on the first track Forsyth's entire contribution is a meditation on the static caused by plugging and unplugging the amp cord into and out of his guitar. By the way, it really works, too.

    Unlike the last pairing of these two, this album was recorded in one studio with both members present. Funny thing is, I don't hear a whole lot of difference. Both play with more instruments in rather unusual ways, but the spirit of adventure is just as high as when the due recorded bicoastally.

    That's the main reason I'll pick up anything that either of these guys does. There's just no telling what's going to happen. I'm not gonna lie; sometimes the experiment doesn't quite work out. Most often, though, the results are spectacular.


    (as Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Matt Hannafin)
    All the States Between
    (Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #251, March 2004

    One of those strange little mail projects: Diaz-Infante laid down his electro-noise bits on one coast, and the Hannafin waxed distortion and such on the other. I've always liked this sort of "compiled" collaboration, and these two seem to have a real knack for it. The two lengthy tracks here are full of wonderful ideas and sounds.


    (as Ernesto Diaz-Infante & Jeff Arnal)
    Brooklyn Mantra 7"
    (Generate)
    reviewed in issue #313, December 2009

    The mantra covers both sides of the vinyl, good for almost twelve minutes. I haven't heard from Diaz-Infante in quite a while, and I'm glad to hear he has lost none of his adventurous spirit. This piece takes quite a while to unwind, but the totality is most impressive. I'm not entirely sure what this guitar/percussion piece has to do with Brooklyn, but it certainly provokes plenty of thought. Let it ramble and rumble and see where you are at the end.


    (Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Manuel Mota, Gino Robair, Ernesto Rodrigues
    Our Faceless Empire
    (Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #318, June 2010

    When someone is listed as playing "voltage made audible," there's very little doubt as to the sounds on the album. Diaz-Infante and friends manipulate twiddles and squarks into lively conversations. Maybe not the sorts of things you say when tossing down a brew or two, but certainly something worth comprehending. Or attempting to comprehend, anyway.


    Dick Justice
    Don't Remember 7"
    (Thick)
    reviewed in issue #92, 11/20/95

    Dick Justice: the (nick?) name of the head of disciplinary action at the U of I in Champaign. This band, of course, wouldn't want to get sued over that little fact or anything.

    The guys play simple and easy pop-punk, crossing over into pure Urge territory at times. Not bad, not terribly memorable. A fine little snack, nothing more.


    The Dickheads
    Dick Tease
    (Wet Puss)
    reviewed in issue #208, 11/20/00

    There's this thing about trios. For some reason, that grouping of players tends to encourage either freewheeling playing or ultra-tight arrangements. The best of these do both.

    The Dickheads wail away without fear. And while sometimes it sounds like its members are on different planets, the songs never quite come apart. There's a central attracting force somewhere, and the boys adhere to it, if only slightly at times.

    The production helps, as it's sharp enough to give each member his own space. That sonic room to roam might also be what ultimately ties the band sound together.

    A joyful rush of pure pleasure. The Dickheads have an innate knack for creating solid, hooky songs that simply bound forth from the stereo. There's no way to accurately describe the energy that flows forth from this disc. It's astonishingly powerful. That's gonna have to do for now.


    The Dickies
    All This and Puppet Stew
    (Fat Wreck Chords)
    reviewed in issue #217, 6/4/01

    Perhaps the first album to be dedicated to the late Joey Ramone, this is just the latest "comeback" for the long-venerable Dickies. The hyper guitar work and clever songwriting is as sharp as ever. The sound is finely balanced between pop sheen and punk grit.

    The Dickies were never that heavy, anyway. The focus has always been on fun, and that remains. There are some odd moments. "Howdy Doody in the Woodshed II" is a bit longer, but doesn't do a whole lot more than the original (found on the Short Music for Short People compilation), though it's as goofy as ever.

    Maybe that's what happens when you spend five years putting together an album. There is a lot of craft here, from the odd mandolin to some overly-tight production jobs on a couple of songs. The idea of a keyboard-heavy punk band (even when used in astonishingly creative ways) went out about the time the Dickies first got started, and that does lend a dated sound to the songs.

    But precisely what time would be right for the Dickies? I mean, this is loony, energetic fare played with almost Resident-like control. There's never been a band quite like the Dickies, and I think it's safe to say there never will be. This is a worthy addition to the canon. And that's about all that really needs to be said.


    Didjits
    Little Miss Carriage! EP
    (Touch & Go)
    reviewed in issue #24, 11/15/92

    Fine crankin' punky stuff from Chi-land (or so). Albini worked the knobs for all you trend-ites, but the real goods are in the music.

    Simply sensational. The typically sparse Albini production showcases fine songs and even better musicianship. I know quality when I hear it; this is that.

    A special note: T&G once again yanked my nads with this EP; no full album is slated for imminent release. Oh well. My fix is satiated for a couple of months, anyway.


    Que Sirhan Sirhan
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #39, 9/15/93

    To lead off an album with a track describing how cute Agent 99 (Get Smart) is, you have to have a little chutzpah. Well, if you want to be taken seriously, I mean.

    Thankfully, that's not on the Didjits agenda. Yes, kids, punk can be playful and while they are routinely stupid, the Didjits don't claim to have any golden keys to heaven.

    This is pleasant and goofy. I don't know what else to say. If you've heard the Didjits before, this is right up the same alley, a little better than their previous EP. Good summer driving music (now that fall has already arrived up here).


    Dido
    No Angel
    (Arista)
    reviewed in issue #184, 7/5/99

    Also known as a vocalist for Faithless, Dido Armstrong wrote the songs for her first solo recording with her brother Rollo and the rest of Faithless. But instead of focusing on the beats, this disc keys solely on Dido's voice.

    The music is somewhat more generic than Faithless (which isn't particularly inventive in its own right), but Dido's lush voice does make up for that shortcoming. Yeah, this is basic pop, somewhere between Abba and Sarah McLachlan, but a lot more interesting than, say, that Alanis Morrisette album you've already turned into an ashtray.

    Just so we're clear here: Dido is not the "future of music" or even "the queen of trip hop". Indeed, while the backing music is generally electronic (though there is some acoustic guitar laying about), it's just faceless Eurotrash. Dido's voice, though, is one of those perfect pop instruments. She can make a bad song acceptable and a good song great. The effect is fizzy and fleeting, of course, but nonetheless enjoyable.

    The sort of summer album which feels good in the sunshine. Don't ask for more, and Dido will probably pleasantly surprise.


    Die Kruezen
    Cement
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #4, 12/15/91

    The playlists I like the most are ones that deviate from the metal "norm." They include bands like Poster Children, MC 900 Ft Jesus or Die Kruezen. Perhaps a Jello spoken word album. But back to Die Kruezen. They are one of the finest bands out there, with a catalog to be proud of. Sometimes they are loud, sometimes not, but they certainly fall smack dab in the middle of that "alternative" category.

    Last week I got a "Poster Children? On a metal chart?" response when I reported to (um, let's not piss them off). Don't worry. I like creativity. And, actually, it felt very nice to do something that shocked someone at Rockpool. Oops.

    Did I mention these guys are brilliant? You can seg many of their tunes right along with early Soundgarden or stuff like that. Lots of wailing and cool guitars. Don't be afraid to play this. You won't be sorry.

    A side note: "Deep Space" is not loud - but it may be the best song of the year. "Holes," "Best Goodbye", "Over and the Edge" and "Downtime" all rock very nicely.


    Die Krupps
    Rings of Steel
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #76, 5/15/95

    These German industrial hacks burst on to the U.S. scene a couple years ago with the Tribute to Metallica, which was silly but still made some sense. This time out, Die Krupps relies on original songs, and the results are even more satisfying. The music is a little heavy on the metal cheese riffs and a little light on creativity, but Die Krupps acquits itself well, even if every song on this album sounds just like, well, German industrial output.

    Of course, a lot of people really dig this sound (I must confess some weakness here), so there isn't that much to complain about. The songs are remixed by various folks, including Jeff Walker, Andrew Eldritch, Sascha (KMFDM) and F.M. Einheit (Einsturzende Neubauten). Also, Biohazard guests on "Bloodsuckers".

    Plenty to sort through, plenty to enjoy. Die Krupps brings a full plate to the table.


    Bloodusuckers remix CD5
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #84, 8/28/95

    Biohazard and Julian Beeston take on remixes of "Bloodsuckers", Beeston also does a turn on "High Tech Low Life", Pro-Pain does "Rings of Steel" and the Cassandra Complex reworks "Metal Machine Music". Plus a couple of live tracks to fill out your needs.

    The live tracks are decent but not terribly different from the album tracks. The Biohazard remix sounds like a Biohazard remix, but it is still quite good (and certainly a break from the original). Julian Beeston puts a more techno spin on his work, but the real techno work is done by the Cassandra Complex.

    Not to be outdone, the Pro-Pain remix is pretty damned vicious, cranking up the speed and really fucking with the guitar. Nice work all around.


    Odyssey of the Mind
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #102, 3/11/96

    On each of its albums, Die Krupps has tried to push the limits of its own creative envelope.

    The cynics would say that's not much of an envelope, but I'd respond that at least the guys are trying. On this album the band really sounds like a band at times, trying to merge the railroad effect of that whole German industrial sound with the "artsy" qualities that have taken hold in the U.S.

    Not entirely successful, as Die Krupps still works best when the drum machine is pumped up and that stereotypical guitar sound cranks on through the night. Any attempt to break away from that formula is a noble effort, but still sounds forced.

    Still fun, especially if you're enamored of this sound (and it wears pretty well on me, personally). Look for some remixes to boost this stuff over the top. That's always the place to find the best Die Krupps, anyway.


    Die Krupps/Front Line Assembly
    The Remix Wars-Strike Two EP
    (Off Beat-Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #114, 7/15/96

    Die Krupps is one of those bands that hasn't taken nearly enough advantage of technology when creating its metal-industrial visions. FLA has proven time and again that it can make cool music out of just about anything. The results here are easily predictable, and predictably good.

    Fulber and Leeb add a nice techno sheen to "Metalmorphosis", "The Last Flood" and "Scent". The stuff is still a bit pile-driving at times, but the FLA touches are obvious and quite welcome. A whole new atmospheric metal sound that Die Krupps might do well to imitate in the future.

    Die Krupps re-works "Neologic Spasm", "Barcode" and "Transparent Species" (all from the most recent FLA album, Hard Wired) much the same way FLA itself has added guitars and other aggro elements in the past few years. Basically, these tracks now would sound more at home on Millennium, which is certainly the heaviest FLA album. Not a bad thing at all.

    Both of these acts have nice side jobs remixing just about every band under the sun, and here they prove they can do each other well, too. A cool set.


    Die Monster Die
    Slumber 7"
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #45, 11/30/93

    One of Roadrunner's most heralded recent signings (at least by their mention), this one satisfies at first listen.

    Sprawling guitars spew whirling riffs into the atmosphere, and Alice Cohen belts out a nice melodic vocal line.

    Nothing amazing, but fairly solid sounding, and with a decent ear as to the commercial side of things to boot. The full album should be a winner.


    Withdrawal Method
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #47, 1/31/94

    Sometimes you get a single, and you say, yes, this band knows where it's at.

    Their "Slumber" 7" last fall really impressed me. Then I got the advance cassette. It's been played more than a few times.

    One of the best things about these folk is their music cannot be categorized. Sure, it fits into the general pop side of things, but it's heavy enough to get metal reports (already). There are elements of the punk thing, and Alice Cohen sometimes cranks her voice into an ethereal mode. The whole thing comes off as otherworldly, and I really like it.

    A special note: Roadrunner is only servicing this to the "alternative" side of things. Those of you who share your format with the rest of the station (and that's most of you) will obviously be okay. The others just might have to search out a copy. Please do. This is a great band that deserves to be played all over the place.


    Die Warzau
    Engine
    (Wax Trax!-TVT)
    reviewed in issue #72, 3/15/95

    After years of seeing albums destroyed through the major label system, Die Warzau got smart and joined the real world.

    The result? A lessened focus on hot singles for the kiddies, and a chance to really explore the outer limits of the industrial genre. As in, "How many sounds and ideas can we dump into one album?" A question I enjoy hearing answered.

    Obviously talented producers, Die Warzau explores the worlds of jazz, various world beat sorts and good old "get down get funky" American funk of the 70s.

    Which brings out the product that is best achieved in the industrial genre: a symphony of cacophonies. Harsh beats, sweet riffs, distorted everything, and you still want to dance. The different sounds reacting to each other and synthesizing something new in the swirling mist. That's what I call good work.


    Dielectric Minimalist All-Stars
    [!!] 2xCD
    (Dielectric)
    reviewed in issue #254, June 2004

    Not so much a group as an artistic concept, the Dielectric Minimalist All-Stars (on this release) are Loren Chasse, Die Elektrischen and Jason Levis. They went into a studio and were instructed to conduct a minimalist (however they interpret that concept) session based on a single concept: an alarm clock (wind up, I must assume). The tracks were then manipulated further by a number of other artists.

    So what we have here are two discs of electronic and percussive noodling, only just so. This is "minimalist," of course. The liners suggest listening in the dark. That might work. It also might scare the shit out of you, especially if you've read too much Edgar Allan Poe ("The Tell-Tale Heart," in particular).

    When reviewing music of this sort, I almost always mention that either you get it or you don't. Some folks think this is a cop-out, but I think it's only fair to be up front about the relative inaccessability of some types of music. If you do get stuff like this, then these discs will blow your mind. Minimalist doesn't mean simple. It doesn't--necessarily--even mean uncluttered. I wouldn't pay too much attention to that part of the name. The music here does exist within a significant amount of open space, but there are ideas galore.

    And that's what this is all about--wandering around and discovering new ways of making music. New thoughts to share with the world at large. So what if most of the world isn't listening? This stuff doesn't exist in a vacuum. Well, not quite, anyway.


    Diesel Boy
    Rode Hard and Put Away Wet
    (Honest Don's)
    reviewed in issue #212, 2/19/01

    This is like the fifth album I've reviewed in the last 10 years with that same title. Oh well. At least this one has a picture of horses on the cover.

    As for the tuneage, this one does fit into the Fat Wreck/Honest Don's stable of tuneful ,yet muscular, punk outfits. Diesel Boy combines NOFX's relatively strident verses with anthemic, hooky choruses.

    And for all that, well, I'm left a little down. This just doesn't pick me up the way I'd like. The stuff is fine, but it just doesn't have that final piece to really set the band apart.

    It's like I keep repeating myself, but sometimes this is just the case. Some music doesn't hit that special pleasure center, even though it's perfectly good. Not great, but good. That'll have to do for this one.


    Diesel Machine
    Torture Test
    (Steamhammer-SPV)
    reviewed in issue #218, 6/25/01

    Utilizing a stripped-down, industrial sound that's quite reminiscent of Fear Factory's Soul of a New Machine (who doesn't sound like Fear Factory--and by relation Sepultura, I suppose--these days?). A good take on the sound, I might add. Diesel Machine leaves a lot of holes, and that really works.

    There's room for strange things to happen. Space for one element or another to take charge for a bit. Little gaps for clever snippets to fall into. Diesel Machine has crafted this puppy tightly and smoothly. Just have to lean back an enjoy the grind.

    And what a grind. The songs churn and roil, never losing sight of the inner groove. A little like Coroner--or maybe the first Pantera album--that way, I guess. That's not a bad thing, either. Diesel Machine's influences have a fine pedigree.

    And the boys whip it all up into something fairly original. I wish the guys would work a little harder to really put the finishing touches on their own sound, but this disc shows they could well be on the way to something great.


    Diesto
    Outland
    (Elastic)
    reviewed in issue #212, 2/19/01

    So what we've got here is a trio playing heavy, heavy hardcore. You know, in that Glazed Baby, Fudge Tunnel sorta way. Which, if you must know, is one of my favorite flavors of hardcore.

    But the question is: Does Diesto measure up? Pretty much. The sound is much thicker than Fudge Tunnel (a band that generally liked a clean finish to separate the fuzz just a bit) and not quite so sludgy as Glazed Baby. There is movement here. Diesto doesn't just pummel the listener into submission.

    There's not a whole lot of ferment here. Diesto takes a simple rhythmic idea, translates it into a lead riff and then heads out. Mostly for the better.

    This style really hits its stride in the "spin cycle" mode, when all of the elements are churning and crashing into each other. Diesto is smart enough to throw in just enough of the ferment and then let the rest of the stuff move from there. A first-rate effort.


    Diet Kong
    Diet Kong
    (Onus)
    reviewed in issue #289, September 2007

    Keith Gladysz and Fred Sargolini with a few friends here and there (the Ess brothers, Alan and Vin, are also listed as band members, though they appear on only about half the songs). While I'm tempted to refer to this as laptop pop (this album was seriously assembled), there's not a whole lot of pop going on.

    Rather, what we have here is kind of a modern version of Die Warzau or something, hyper-catchy vocal lines sneered over snappy electronic tuneage. Rock, not pop. With killer hooks.

    At times, this stuff gets positively Strokesean, which is both impressive and more than a little silly. This isn't garage fare. Almost the opposite. Truly a genre-blurring effect for the ages.

    The main element here is fun. There's nothing ponderous or particularly profound going on. Just a good time spread out over a fabulous musical tableau. Nicely done.


    The Difference Machine
    The Psychedelic Sounds of the Difference Machine
    (Psych Army Intergalactic)
    King Rhythm
    Rock Star Dementia
    (self-released)
    reviewed 5/15/14

    Just as the practitioners of the Americana country sound are really just harkening back to the roots of rock and roll, over the last few years there's a strain of hip-hop that is rebounding back to its rock roots. Or rather, rebounding to rock before hip-hop was hip-hop.

    I qualify that because James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic (among many others) made music that fell outside any existing genres of their time--but that would easily fit within today's hip-hop "big tent."

    But there's a look back at history, and there's a rewriting of history. King Rhythm takes classic tracks from Bowie, Pink Floyd, Dylan and other luminaries and adds in samples from movies (Almost Famous, of course, and some odder ones, like A Mighty Wind), documentaries and TV interviews. All of this is completely whipped up into a frothy blend of over-indulgence and geeky fandom. The rhymes tend to be from the perspective of a rock star, but the backing tracks add a pile of meta commentary.

    Sounds dull? Like something you'd hear in school? Hardly. King Rhythm takes the bones of those sixties and seventies hits (a not inconsiderable amount of fun here is picking out exactly what song has been reassembled for a particular track) and lays down his typically mellow rapping style. There's an insouciance in the production--the samples are hilarious--that extends to the full album itself.

    The album is free at Bandcamp, which makes this an easy grab. I'm guessing one reason for the cheap price is the fact that every second is populated by copyrighted material. The licensing would simply be a nightmare. But if enforcement of copyright laws means missing out on the almost incomprehensibly astonishing "duet" that King Rhythm performs with Dylan's "It's Alright Ma" on "Slow Dement," well, I say fuck the laws.

    Art is all about recycling. Rock Star Dementia revisits the past with a loving and critical eye. We live in 2014, but there are plenty of reasons why there's something romantic about 1974 (or so). Sex, drugs and rock and roll were questioned on moral, not medical, grounds. Artists were ambitious and seen as godlike. Now everything is "safe" and even the biggest artists tweet. But ambition is still alive. Rock Star Dementia is proof.

    The Difference Machine takes a completely different approach. The "psychedelic sounds" are more often created in studio than sampled, but generally the point seems to be applying a psychedelic mindset to modern hip-hop.

    This is even more mindbending than it might seem. The Atlanta-based duo of DT (Dustin Teague of Clan Destined) and "Dr. Conspiracy" has created a sound that is completely modern in production, yet psychedelic in structure and periphery. There's plenty of reverb and distortion, but the beats are pure 2014. The songs utilize a regular pop construction, but they also appropriate the psychedelic penchant for tangents.

    All of which is to say that this sounds very Def Jux or (going further back) Wordsound, two New York-based labels that reveled in the experimental. And, yes, there's more than a hint of the Wu going on as well. Apart from a few tics in the rhymes, I would never have guessed this came from Georgia.

    But it is 2014, and Atlanta is definitely one of the global capitals of hip-hop. That something like the Difference Machine has popped out proves that the scene is fully mature.

    Rock and roll did not spring fully formed from the mind of Bill Haley (or Elvis, or Leiber and Stoller, or . . .). It grew organically from the intersection of black and white music in the south, and it had an audience of young people of all races. There are plenty of great rock and roll songs from the 40s, some of which sound pretty modern today. On the other hand, it's a long way from Big Mama Thornton to Slint, yet "rock and roll" is big enough to hold both.

    Likewise, hip-hop was around long before "Rapper's Delight" (listen to Ella Fitzgerald's "songbook" albums with Duke Ellington and you'll get chills), and hip-hop encompasses a similarly wide range of ideas and sounds. The history of hip-hop mirrors that of the history of rock and roll.

    Which only makes sense. Hip-hop is rock and roll, just a ways down the road. Hip-hop is as another intersection of black and white music, and it has an audience of young people of all races. In terms of music theory, there's more differentiation within what is commonly called rock or hip-hop than there is between the two "genres." When you get right down to the DNA, they're one and the same.

    King Rhythm and the Difference Machine get this. Their recent albums highlight and explore the connections between hip-hop and late 60s/early 70s rock--connections that aren't exactly intuitive. These albums make clear, however, that "new" music always builds on the past. Would Kanye be Kanye without opera? Of course not. The grandiose psychodramas that are his albums ought to be staged at the Met.

    The two albums reviewed here make an important point about the connections between supposedly antithetical styles of music. More importantly, these albums are a lot of fun to hear. Rock Star Dementia is a great party album, while The Psychedelic Sounds of the Difference Machine sounds great blasting out of car speakers. Their artistic pretension (and accomplishment) means they'll remain viable for a long time.

    Lots of folks say that rock and roll is dead. But rock and roll can never die. It simply changes costumes. Neither hip-hop nor rock are denigrated by uniting them under one banner. Humans have celebrated good music for millennia; that's one of the things that makes us human. And no matter what we call it, good music is good music.

    Rock and roll is dead. Long live rock and roll.


    The Diggers
    Mount Everest
    (Big Deal)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    Produced by Charlie Francis of the High Llamas, a band best known for its slavish devotion to the Beach Boys, it should come as no surprise that the Diggers are equal devotees to the "other" great 60s pop band, the Beatles.

    With the exception of the vocals, which do not imitate John, Paul or George (no one in their right mind would try to replicate Ringo Starr's voice), that is. The music, on the other hand, is a mishmash of Beatles concepts from, say, 1966 on. There are no riffs stolen, no bass lines thieved. This just sounds like the Beatles. A lot.

    Not a horrible thing. The Diggers are quite adept at this form, and the songs are uniformly well-written and performed. But what the band doesn't do is relate the pop ideal of the late '60s to today's concept of pop. This is retro stuff, and nothing more.

    And that's the final failing. Sure, there are some nice period pieces here, which is an odd thing to say about a new album. I'm just waiting for something more. I guess I'm in the wrong boat.


    Digital Blue
    The World that Revolves Around Me EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #194, 1/24/00

    Just another fuzzy pop three-piece. Digital Blue specializes in crafting a layered sound, sometimes with their instruments and sometimes with some ringers (you know, horns and the like).

    Never breaking out of the midtempo, and that's where my main advice would lie. These arrangements aren't gorgeous enough to justify wallowing in them. Pick up the pace, at least once in a while. They guys have some real nice instincts, but at times (particularly in the first track), the followthrough is a bit lacking.

    Ah, but enough whining. It was fun to take a dip into Digital Blue's sound. I have the feeling that the band is just beginning to understand what it can do. More experimentation will bring much greater sounds, I'd say.


    Digital Poodle
    Division!
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #60, 8/15/94

    Rising from the fertile Toronto techno scene, Digital Poodle crams a lot of small things into its musical creations.

    Not terribly surprising, as DP has been known as one of the top Canadian electronic exports for some time. The songs do not sound alike, with each one taking on a distinct personality.

    Division! is a great hodgepodge of sounds. The most amazing thing is that with such diversity you can still hear an underlying universal DP theme.

    Of course, one member of Digital Poodle is Pupka Frey, who recently issued an amazing record under the moniker Din. In the studio there are two other members, and live the number swells to five. In fact, this is a band and not just a studio project. That makes it easier to love.


    Noisea
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #71, 2/28/95

    A collection of singles and remixes from one of the most inventive techno bands around.

    If you don't know DP already, this is a band that regularly performs. As in live, with improvisation and such. As a result, the songs aren't nearly as antiseptic as many other bands in the same area.

    Like most remix efforts, at times the mixes don't quite live up to the original songs. But just as many are quite creative reinventions.

    Those who know already have this disc and are playing it non-stop. Those of you in the other category should take notice. I don't know of a more interesting band in the club arena today.


    Henri Dikongue
    C'est la Vie
    (Tinder)
    reviewed in issue #153, 2/23/98

    The liners credit Henri Dikongue as being part of a quiet revolution in African music. See, Dikongue doesn't play throbbing dance music, and he doesn't employ an elaborate percussion section. He plays "music straight from the soul", which is a phrase I once saw on a Julio Iglesias album. But even as I read this, I was listening to the music, and the music told another story.

    Dikongue's songs are quiet, at least in terms of volume. He does get a nice Afro-Caribbean groove working on such songs as "Ndol'asu", but even as the beats drive the music, the focus is firmly set on Dikongue's quietly expressive voice.

    Instead of being merely a "AAA" alternative to the more active world beat music, Dikongue keeps his arrangements simple, allowing his many references to achieve their full, intended effect. Yeah, I guess this stuff could be played on generic "lite" radio, but the difference would be apparent to even a casual listener.

    Passionate music will always have an audience, no matter its sound. Dikongue never overplays his hand, and his arrangements keep any potentially treacly elements to a minimum. Beautiful That's all.


    Sandy Dillon
    (as Hector Zazou & Sandy Dillon)
    12 (Las Vegas is Cursed)
    (Crammed-FWD)
    reviewed in issue #222, 9/24/01

    There is a certain tradition--I'd say it's European, but plenty of Americans have dabbled in it as well--of the "art song," pieces of music that are as much about the presentation as the music and singing themselves. Hector Zazou takes care of the sounds (with help from pals like Marc Ribot, Lisa Germano and many others) and Sandy Dillon does the singing.

    And these are art songs, in a manner of speaking. The pieces themselves have an unusual sense of construction, and the subject matter is often a bit difficult to discern. Gotta think about it a bit, see.

    The sound of the songs is exquisite. Zazou populates his canvas with a wide variety of sounds, and Dillon herself twists her voice into all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whispers, screams, growls, grunts, you name it. She does it.

    Challenging fare, to say the least. Zazou and Dillon refuse to play it safe, and instead have recorded an album of uncompromising ideas. Dive in and find yourself immersed in another world.


    Dime Bag
    Dime Bag
    (Heat Blast)
    reviewed in issue #23, 10/31/92

    Do you ever get the urge to get together with your friends, get really drunk, crank the amplifiers of all your instruments to heavy distortion and jam? Sure, we all do. But if we did it would sound like shit, because most of us are talentless hacks (which hasn't stopped Garth Brooks yet). But these guys take that approach to their music and blow out an amazing album of eight ear-splitting, mind-numbing, uh, tunes. Obviously with this kind of screaming sludge a tune is not what you find.

    A lot like Sugar Shack, I like this album a bunch without really knowing why. The chords are more than simple, the lyrics almost incoherent and the music just a few squeals of heavy feedback. And I keep saying to myself, "Just once more, I swear I need just one more hit." Shit, where's that repeat button when you really need it?


    The Dimes
    The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry
    (Pet Marmoset)
    reviewed in issue #312, November 2009

    Taking a late 60s/early 70s hippie vibe and sliding it into an americana album cover, the Dimes end up sounding decidedly timeless. That's probably the most impressive thing about this album--and to be honest, it's about as impressive as anything I've heard all year.

    Yes, you have to appreciate the component parts, but the Dimes spin these sounds into something much greater than their influences. This is music that sounds great and has great things to say. All without hitting the listener over the head.

    The production is quite clean, leaving the songs to speak for themselves. There's just enough smudging to fill in the empty spaces, but each element comes through loud and clear.

    An album that impresses more and more with each listen. Give this one an inch, and it just might steal your soul. The hooks are damned tenacious.


    Dimmu Borgir
    Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
    (Nuclear Blast America)
    reviewed in issue #137, 6/23/97

    Very traditional black metal. Lots of keyboards, with the guitars serving basically as background noise. Dimmu Borgir does a pretty good job of using the keyboards to make music instead of mush, but I still wish they could have been integrated with the guitars better.

    And like average black metal bands, Dimmu Borgir gets caught up in convention. The band kicks off quite a few nice grooves, and then quits them in favor of much lesser musical ideas. Lots of scales descanting while the songs slowly turn turgid.

    More in need of good editing rather than a complete overhaul. This stuff is often quite good (the guitars even get going from time to time), but the arrangements are horridly inconsistent. For example, the first minute or so of "In Death's Embrace" is high-powered stuff, but then the song inexplicably slows up for about three minutes in the middle. Yeah, the git-up-and-go returns, but not after dragging the song down.

    So much potential. So much bungled music. Such a shame.


    Din
    Decade of the Brain
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #59, 7/31/94

    After considering what to call this, I finally had to settle on the completely unworthy "electronic". There are elements of techno, though with an admittedly ambient overwash. And Pupka Frey (the man who is Din) throws a lot of other things into the mix.

    And then there are tracks like "Space Jelly", which have more than a passing reference to funk. Oh, that fluid bass!

    A master of subtleties, Din is a collection of all I mentioned and a lot more. There is a pleasant texture to the music, and you'll never get to the center of it. Alright.


    The Dingees
    Armageddon Massive
    (BEC Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #156, 4/6/98

    Some SoCal boys who wish they were the Pistols. Slicker and much less anarchic, but still the feeling is the same. Would that the songs were better.

    But they're not. This is by-the-books punk stuff, and it's just not very interesting. They guys can play, and there's a thick guitar sound pumping out, but it just doesn't work. In the end, the Dingees do not break out of the generic camp.

    And when the boys abandon their faux cockney sneers for some dreadfully straight ska, well, it's all over. Kinda like Connie Francis singing "Respect". Ouch.

    The worst sin a punk band can commit: boring music. The Dingees are stuck in a morass of mediocrity.


    Dingle
    Red Dog
    (New Alliance)
    reviewed in issue #55, 5/31/94

    There are two ways to make pop music. You can go straight ahead and make wonderful tunes, but that takes real musicianship and a knack for that sort of thing.

    Or you can do what Dingle does, and throw a load of bones into a bag and see what dribbles out.

    Meandering from light, wacky tunes to heavy, sure-reminds-me-of-Alice-Donut songs, the Dingle boys have put together a collection of eclectic pop that almost anyone should adore.

    There is absolutely no intent or attempt to be normal here, so don't go looking for that. But you can still pop a beer and enjoy.


    The Dining Room Set
    The Dining Room Set
    (Growth)
    reviewed in issue #179, 3/29/99

    Soulful bubble gum, with nods to the Beach Boys, the Carpenters, 1910 Fruitgum Co. and plenty of other somewhat disparate acts. All of which lends a bit more weight to the otherwise light material.

    Sharif Dumani's vocals also raise the bar. For whatever reason, he really believes in the sound, and that sincerity and soul makes all the difference. Because past the emotive veneer is, well, not a whole lot.

    But the sound is so lovingly created. The production faithfully replicates light pop of the late 60s and early 70s, and it's so effervescent that there's no way to pop all the bubbles.

    Alright, alright, there is a serious lack of substance. But forget about that for a second and simply give in to temptation. Bob yer head and lost your worries for a while. And maybe even let one of the melodies utterly take over your brain. Worse things could happen.


    The Dinner Is Ruined
    Ray Charles Kinda Party
    (Sonic Unyon)
    reviewed in issue #211, 1/29/01

    Imagine if the Delta 72 was based in Canada and a bit more on the pop side. Well, a lot more on the pop side. But as raucous as ever. The Dinner Is Ruined falls somewhere within those parameters.

    These boys go more for 60s pop than 60s soul, but there is plenty of the latter as well. Not to mention nods to Springsteen and Sly Stone and other true gods. But even with all the meandering, The Dinner Is Ruined sticks to its sound.

    Which is, to be honest, a muddy mess. It works for what these guys are trying to do, but seriously: Kids, don't try this as home.

    Oh, go on ahead. This puppy is more than a case short of great, but it's a few tokes over the line from merely fun. I can hear that the band is enjoying itself immensely. It's kinda contagious. Smiles all around.


    Dio
    Angry Machines
    (Mayhem-Futurist)
    reviewed in issue #121, 10/21/96

    It's been a while since Dio has put out a good album. One that is acceptable to folks who remember the glory days (and perhaps even wish for them to return). If nothing else, Angry Machines is a worthy successor to Sacred Heart and Last in Line.

    Personally, I've thought Dio is at his best singing the uptempo rockers, stuff like "Don't Tell the Kids". Yeah, I know, he pounded out a lot of great tunes with Iommi's pack, but I still like his voice when it moves. And there's a good chunk of that here.

    And some stuff that, when applied to a Dio album, can only be called "experimental". On "Black", there's some serious vocal harmony work along with a nice chunk of keyboards. And plenty more new ideas throughout the disc. Sounds good.

    I still think there's a bit too much of the plodding stuff, but I'll live with it. This is the best Dio album in over 10 years. I know, that doesn't say much, but if you're a fan of the good old stuff, then you just might want to dig in here.


    Dipnoi
    Fkddd EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #194, 1/24/00

    I'm thinking the title of the EP isn't in Portuguese... Alright, alright. Enough bad jokes. Dipnoi is yer basic hardcore band, sounding a lot more like Victims Family than Sepultura. I know, not every Brazilian band wants to be Sepultura, but I just thought I'd make that clear.

    What the guys do quite well is keep a rough groove going. Now, this is a fairly ragged recording, just a notch above demo quality. But hell, the songs aren't subtle anyway. A sharpening of the sound might take a good chunk of the charm away as well.

    It's the groove thing that lifts Dipnoi above the pack. They guys can keep a song moving, no matter what. That's a lot harder than you might think. I'm quite impressed.


    Dirt Cheap
    Get Out of My Way
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #136, 6/9/97

    I think one AC/DC clone with "Dirt" in its name is enough. I mean, not only does Dirt Cheap utterly steal that Aussie metal blues vibe, but they rip off Dirty Looks, too.

    And, strangely, the sound pops out at times, which then reminds me a lot of D.A.D (does that ring a bell for anyone?). Except, see, the songs just aren't that interesting.

    There are plenty of references to cards in "Casino", and with other titles like "Highway to Madness" and "Heaven and Hell", well, the guys don't even try to disguise their theft.

    Come on, dress things up a bit. Just a little. Really. Please. I mean, if you'd try just a little, I'd give you some credit. Unfortunately, this is plagiarism in the worst way.


    Dirt Fishermen
    Vena Cava
    (C/Z)
    reviewed in issue #29, 2/28/93

    In all the years rock music has been around, almost all the big male singers have had high voices, and almost all the women low voices. On the female side of history, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Stevie (don't call me Shelley) Nicks and Chrissie Hynde all come to mind, as does the Concrete Blonde singer whose name I have never learned to spell (and won't look up now because I could care less).

    You listen to this and say, "Okay, they're from Seattle, but they sound cool." Uncle Jack's influence can be felt behind the knobs (actually, I bet they were slide pots) and there is this vague reference to northwest chord progressions.

    That doesn't have to be a bad thing, and here the grunge pop thing works, especially with the vocals, which are pleasantly in the alto range (why do you think I talked about that stuff up there?). Sure, you're going to rip out the Treepeople disc and leave this one be for a moment. But after that passes, dig this up and find a great album.


    Dirt Mall
    Got the Goat by the Horns
    (Daykamp)
    reviewed in issue #293, February 2008

    Pleasantly throbbing rock and roll, with plenty of bump in the trunk. Indeed, the bouncing bass work is probably my favorite part of this disc.

    'Cause what we have here is lead-jacketed blooze'n'boogie, the sort of fuzzy, heavy stuff that makes folks like me smile. It's not complicated or sophisticated or anything like that. Just throw in some power chords, add a pint of bourbon and set to spin.

    And yet, so few do it well. Dirt Mall does it great. These are simple songs best enjoyed at 11, which is a description of some of the most exciting albums around. This one qualifies easily.

    This is something of a throwback, I suppose, though there are enough sly references to make it difficult to pin down Dirt Mall's place in time. No matter. When a disc has as many obvious pleasures as this one, there's no need to worry about the why. Just turn it up and let it go.


    Pacifuego
    (Daykamp)
    reviewed in issue #315, March 2010

    Chunky riffage and rough-hewn vocals are generally enough to get me to listen a bit more closely. A real feel for down-and-dirty rock and roll played with style and energy makes me smile. My grin is ear-to-ear after listening to this album.

    There's a temptation when playing this sort of rugged melodic rock to speed things up. I generally applaud such impulses, as that tends to hold a listener's interest. Dirt Mall sticks more to the mid-tempo side of things, but that's even better if your songs can hold up. These songs do.

    I often get albums that I can't imagine being played live. This album sounds like it was recorded live to tape. Well, not exactly (recording folks separately does lend itself to a sharper mix, which this has), but these songs must sound great in a dive. Loud, kinda fuzzy and with plenty of kick.

    To go old school for my references, these boys sound like a fine mix of Drivin' n' Cryin', Soul Asylum (the middle years, before "Runaway Train") and the first Motley Crue album. I loved Dirt Mall's first album, and this one keeps the blooze'n'boogie train rolling on down the rails. Take a big bite.


    The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
    Funeral For a Friend
    (Ropeadope/Artemis)
    reviewed in issue #253, May 2004

    It's not like my reviewing a Dirty Dozen Brass Band album would help their sales one iota. This collection of New Orleans musicians has been legendary for as long as I can recall. I've heard plenty of their albums, own a few, and I can say for a fact that none of them suck. In fact, none of them are less than good, and most are brilliant.

    As with most DDBB albums, there's a theme here. The songs are hymns, spirituals or old-time gospel favorites, and they're played in the finest New Orleans fashion--often elegiac, but never downbeat.

    What's interesting is the use of slide and acoustic blues guitar and other "roots" elements. These touches "age" the sound here, taking me back to the "O Brother" days. If, in the worst case, this was a conscious effort to cash in on a fad, well, it still worked wonders. If there was ever a band loose enough to blend jazz, gospel and old-time roots music, it was this one.

    What was that word I used? Brilliant. Much like the second soundtrack to Kansas City (the one where the "K.C. Band" assembled to record the music for Robert Altman's movie gets high and low, low down), this album has a spontaneous feel that is invigorating and life-affirming. Precisely the sort of music you'd want to play at a funeral for a friend.


    Dirty Rotten Imbeciles-see D.R.I. Dirty Three
    Dirty Three
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #80, 7/15/95

    Three guys who like to make haunting music way down under. No words. Perhaps it's better that way.

    Warren Ellis gets most of the fun, playing a violin, accordion and two things I've never heard of: a space belt (though I recognized it when I heard it) and a kalimba. So what could have been merely contemplative music with a vague VU/(mellow) Sonic Youth vibe has become something again altogether.

    Seven songs, fifty minutes. Some of the tunes are short, and obviously some are really long. A nice diversity of sounds and styles, and yet I don't think I'll mistake any other band in the world for this outfit.

    A highly accomplished disc. The textured sound (produced to get a very "live" sound) is really something to hear. Quality all the way around.


    Horse Stories
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #117, 8/26/96

    Some of the spookiest music you'll ever hear three people play.

    In case you missed the last album, Dirty Three are a trio from somewhere in Australia, though this album found its legs in London. The sound is one of those twisted takes on country music, not unlike Palace (whatever), though no vocals to screw things up. The stuff is recorded live, and the only instruments are guitar, drums and violin, with the odd organ moment.

    And unlike a lot of bands, Dirty Three has figured out the positive value of silence. There are so many holes in this sound the entire Teamsters union could drive through it. And therein lies the charm. It is very easy to get lost in the music. Give it half a chance, and it infects your soul.

    I liked the first album quite a bit. Found it astonishingly affecting. Horse Stories takes all that a notch higher. Exquisitely painful and lilting, passionately perverse. No lyrics are necessary or wanted. Dirty Three has it all down.


    Ocean Songs
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #154, 3/9/98

    The long-awaited new album from Dirty Three. With Steve Albini, the man himself, producing. Needless to say, when this arrived a while back (I saved the review for a time closer to the release date), I didn't hesitate to toss it in the discer.

    Now, regular fans of the band might hear the opening strains and expect the usual leisurely stroll for three or four minutes, capped off by a wonderful thunderstorm at the end. Rousing climaxes being a band trademark and all. Well, that's not the pattern here. Oh, sure, the music picks up tempo and volume from time to time, but the songs are more flowing, moving up and down, but never thrashing about. Not unlike a journey at sea.

    Hopelessly beautiful music, songs that celebrate the mysteries we all confront everyday. The ocean is a perfect metaphor for life. It is, of course, the birthplace of life on Earth, and it still holds most of the keys to our existence. Lots of room for contemplation, and Dirty Three takes its best shot.

    Which, of course, means an aurally stunning album. The combination of guitar, violin (or viola) and drums (with the occasional piano) breaking through the silence barrier with stark melodies and rolling rhythms is now so distinctive I begin salivating at the very thought. Dirty Three is one of the most versatile and ingenious bands playing. Period. The music is magic. End transmission.


    Whatever You Love, You Are
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #196, 3/6/00

    There's something in a Dirty Three song that cuts through my consciousness and dives directly for that which lies beneath. Admittedly, any violin, guitar and drum trio has instrumentation unusual enough to attract attention, but it is the content of the songs here that blitzes my mind.

    Unlike most earlier D3 albums (Horse Stories, Ocean Songs, etc.), this one doesn't have a sonic theme. Instead the trio simply expands upon previous ideas and adds a few new ones as well.

    While the sound is fairly sparse, there is a heavy echo which brings an almost unimaginable depth. The songs sound like they're emerging from the deeps of space, from the oneness of the Cosmos. An eternal quality, if you will.

    Certainly, a sense of wonder pervades. I love to listen to Dirty Three and just let myself go for a while. It doesn't matter where I end up; I know I'm in good hands. (with Low)
    In the Fishtank
    (Konkurrent)
    reviewed in issue #216, 5/14/01

    Followers of this series know the story. Konkurrent brings a band into the studio while that band is touring Europe (Holland, in particular) and has said band screw around. Twenty to thirty minutes of improvised music is then put onto disc. Here, Low came in and asked Dirty Three to sit in. The results, as if you couldn't guess, are spectacular.

    Both bands were playing the Crossing Border festival in Amsterdam, and in between everything else they managed to stop off and record a few songs. Five collaborations and a truly spooky version of "Down by the River." Must be heard to be believed.

    Sometimes creative bands are too competitive to truly work together to make something special. That didn't happen here. Low and Dirty Three combined the best of what they do to create some beautiful, haunting tunes. Just another reason why this is one of the best continuing series around.


    Disembowelment
    Dusk CD5
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #27, 1/31/93

    As if the Millersville boys aren't six feet under already, they feel compelled to create a new series of CD singles they call the "The Underground Series" ("Not For Trendy Ears" - I like that). And a damn good thing they are, too.

    This is their way of bridging the gap between tape trading and their regular releases (after all, a full-length from these guys will be coming later this year).

    As for the music, the fuzz on this would need a chainsaw to shave. Damn! Reminiscent of Sorrow, but everything is heavier, duller (sound-wise) and a lot meaner. And let's not forget long - the three tracks go for almost a half-hour. Your time will be well-spent. This is truly brutal fare not to be missed by any true fan of the genre. After all, the longer to song, the further your butt flies after it's been kicked.


    Transcendence into the Peripheral
    (Relapse)
    reviewed in issue #39, 9/15/93

    If you have the ep, you know why this is essential. Unfortunately, if you have the ep, you have half of this album already. But this is too good to quibble with.

    Everyone I have spoken with about this has used the words "atmospheric" or the like. It certainly is a new direction in doom and death metal.

    Of course it takes talent to make music like this. And influences other than the obvious. I'm not sure what all the "for we will not pass this way again" stuff is. I know some of the members have an ambient project as well, but jeez.

    While I would hate to see them forget "all this noise," at least they did record a project that can never be forgotten. And if they record again, it will be the stuff of legend, I'm sure.


    Disengage
    Exhaust 7"
    (Cambodia Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #127, 1/27/97

    Takin' that Tool thing and giving it a workout. Well, the stuff I've always called post-metal was quite prevalent a long time ago (remember the first Rapscallion album, anyone?), but Disengage brings it all back, in a nice way.

    For those who see the term "post-metal" and notice an odd "hunh?" sound escaping their vocal cords, I'll elaborate. Loud stuff, with technical guitar lines, and as often as not, fairly anthemic. If you like, think ...And Justice for All, muddied up and without all the bombast.

    Disengage does a capable job with the sound, and I'm happy to hear such things making a comeback. The production on this is pleasantly dirty, though all the lines are clear enough to appreciate fully. And, hey, intelligent lyrics don't hurt a whit, either.

    I'd like to hear more. Disengage is easily cool enough for another go around.


    Teeth, Heart and Tail
    (Cambodia Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #145, 10/13/97

    Technically advanced lo-fi metal musings. I made a reference to Tool when I reviewed the 7", and that still gives a general idea. Disengage's big accomplishment is crafting some seriously overloaded songs and presenting them in muddy surroundings. Something like a Renoir woodcut (as a concept, not reality)

    The songs are royal anthems of screech and majesty, always finding the right spot for a climax. Clever use of anti-climax as well, which is probably even more impressive.

    An altogether tasty melange. This is stuff I can really relate to: incisive and complex songwriting tossed out with lots of bombast. Don't bang your head too much, because you might actually need your brain for something.

    Fulfilling the promise of the 7" and then some. Disengage serious talent and an awfully good vision of its sound. And there can be no complaints about the execution.


    Disgorge
    Disgorge
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #30, 3/15/93

    Tasty old school death metal. Almost out-of-control music and completely unenunciated vocals. This is just the thing to put those Euro pansies back in their place!

    Um, hopefully you folks recognized the joke. Despite the joke, I do like this. I haven't heard a band go for this sound in quite a while. Sorta a Black Crowes (artistically, not stylistically) kinda thing.


    Disgust
    Brutality of War
    (Earache)
    reviewed in issue #53, 4/30/94

    Just in case you thought grindcore had faded...

    This is a pretty punchy and commercially produced kinda grindcore, to be sure, but the spirit manages to burn through the veneer at least some of the time.

    As for the quality of the songs, they're a little repetitious, even by the standards of the genre. But in short doses (which is, of course, what it's all about), Disgust crank a fine level of adrenaline.


    Disharmonic Orchestra
    Not to Be Undimensional Conscious
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #14, 5/31/92

    I thought the title was weird until I read the press. Or tried to. It was in Swedish. So the English was on the other side, but that was a fitting introduction to this fine band.

    The production is rather slick, but like Atheist, Disharmonic Orchestra bring something new to the death metal game. I can't really put my finger on it, but I have never heard a band like this. And I love them!

    Disharmonic Orchestra will be at the front of any future death metal assault upon the masses. They have the chops and songwriting skills to survive a long time. And if they manage to improve upon this, there will be no limits. What a disc!


    Expositions Prophylaxe
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #40, 9/30/93

    In case you were wondering, this consists of all the D.O. stuff unavailable in the U.S. A friend tells me the reason they were dropped from Nuclear Blast (in Germany, so don't blame Matt & co.) was because they were "getting too weird." This same person voiced a little concern with Pungent Stench, but their sales seem a bit too strong.

    As many of you know, I consider Disharmonic Orchestra to be one of the finest and more innovative death metal bands around. Apart from their meticulous playing that still manages to sound inspired, their lyrics are rather well though out, without the degradation into moronity that sometimes happens.

    While I would have preferred the new album that has been recorded, this will have to do for now. And I'm afraid I don't know the title of the EP that's included at the end of the disc. I'm calling Pennsylvania to find out. You could do the same.


    Disincarnate
    Dreams of the Carrion Kind
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #32, 4/15/93

    Epic doom death metal, brought to you by James Murphy, known for his work with Obituary, Death and Cancer. This is intended to be fucking huge (as I think I could quote Psycho, but I haven't talked to him about this). And it is good shit.

    I complained about the Solstice album being unspectacular. This album has so many bright moments they almost drown each other out. The spotless production captures every perfectly-played note (and at this speed, that's pretty good), but at times it's like listening to an Yngwie Malmsteen solo - yeah, and?

    Death metal is at a stage where bands need to move it to new and more interesting areas. A year ago, I would have hailed this album as not only a classic death metal album, but a classic, period. This is as far as the old genre can go. Time for bands like My Dying Bride, Fear Factory and Candiru to lead us from the abyss.


    Dismember
    Like an Ever Flowing Stream
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #7, 2/14/92

    Nice hair, good looking guys, fake blood everywhere; why don't I take these guys seriously? You know, the music doesn't help a whole lot either. Not much to find different from other death outfits.

    On the plus side, these guys are meticulous players, especially the guitars. They have obviously worked long and hard at songwriting to make sure every note is there. Perhaps that's the problem. I think the aggression got lost somewhere in between.


    Pieces EP
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #24, 11/15/92

    The latest band to succumb to the EP gig, Dismember snarl and thrash their way back into the death metal circle. The intensity builds as the disc cruises on, and for the first time, a tempo change!

    Sarcasm aside, Dismember have grown musically. This is not the same thing over and over again. The energy present on their debut disc has been transferred into some real change.


    Indecent and Obscene
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #39, 9/15/93

    Excellent sparse production; reminds me of early Pungent Stench. And we know how good that is!

    Nothing far from the ordinary, but with this sound, their musicianship is on the line. Dismember passes without a doubt.

    With each release a definite maturity has arisen, and that continues here. A real devotion to fine riff work and solos that don't blaze, but really sound good and mean something. Funny how a little blues background can make all the difference.

    A simple "this rocks!" cannot suffice. Instead of succumbing to overwrought production and absurdity like many bands, Dismember have stripped down and kept the real spirit alive.


    Massive Killing Capacity
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #84, 8/28/95

    Oh, that fluid Swedish death metal lead guitar. Sure, bands like Entombed may have started the trend, but Dismember seems to have a better idea as to the proper implementation.

    And, while Finnish, Sentenced's album from last year, Amok, had much of the same tendencies. Old school death metal fans will decry this movement as crassly commercial ("Sentenced is not true death metal", a guy wrote me last year), but that doesn't mean those of us accepting of change cannot enjoy change.

    Dismember steal from so many in creating this sound (and theft may be a nice term) that the boys may very well have created a classic album. I've heard everything on this album before (from bands like Sepultura, the aforementioned Entombed and Sentenced, Hypocrisy and others), but not necessarily in this exact form.

    An album that does not allow you to hit the stop button. Possibly a real sea change in the direction of death metal (particularly that of the Swedish variety).


    Misanthropic EP
    (Nuclear Blast America)
    reviewed in issue #140, 8/4/97

    What a dreadful mix. The bass is awfully low (what is there is lost in some serious echo), the middle range is nonexistent, and that leaves the drums sounding like an erratic machine. Okay, so this sounds like a crap black metal outing (though the music is strictly old school), but I can't imagine that was what was intended.

    The songs are well-penned and strongly played (as near as I can tell). Dismember knows how to crank out fine extreme metal lines. But I'm still left wondering how the sound ended up this way. I mean, the band produced this thing.

    What might have been a classic set of tunes is utterly wrecked by horrible post-production. I'm simply too pissed off to say much more. This is a textbook example of why some people are producers and some aren't. Yikes.


    Dismemberment Plan
    ! advance cassette
    (DeSoto-Southern)
    reviewed in issue #85, 9/4/95

    Caterwauling amongst the same territory as Kepone, though altenately more vicious and melodic than that fine outfit. Leaves me breathless.


    Dissection
    Storm of the Light's Bane
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #96, 1/22/96

    Fans of early At the Gates who were somehow disappointed with Slaughter of the Soul (that group doesn't include me) will definitely groove on this puppy. Plenty of black metal references in basic death-doom constructs. In other words, talented guys throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.

    But unlike many creative bands, Dissection often limits experimentation to different songs. ATG would often have twenty tempo changes per song (at least, that's what it seemed like). Not here. Dissection taps into serious aggressive instincts and has really crafted some fine stuff. The songwriting is first-rate.

    A lot of folks just won't believe that hyper-fast death metal can be played in such a way as to sound like a virtuoso performance (a lot of folks run screaming when you mention "death metal", period). Dissection challenges and successfully defeats that notion. The production is great, leaving just the right amount of space between the instruments (the music sounds complete, not cluttered). And the playing and singing are as good as I've heard in the genre.

    Fans of Amorphis and Gorefest can agree on this one. And anyone who dug Iron Maiden will also find plenty here to like, as well. Give the album a couple songs, get really immersed, and then crank the volume full-blast. Storm of the Light's Bane is a real monster.


    Dissent
    Swap Meet Seers
    (Wide Hive)
    reviewed in issue #259, November 2004

    Something of an electronica-jazz collective orchestrated by Gregory Howe, Dissent has evolved significantly in three albums, and this effort sounds much smoother and, perhaps strangely, more adventurous than the first two.

    What has struck me from the beginning about Dissent is that no one is doing anything quite like this. Yes, there are trip-hop moments that might remind one of Stereolab or Savath + Savalas. And there are big-beat moments than do recall Propellerheads more than anything else. But then there's more. And more. And...

    It's the breadth of Dissent's vision that is most impressive. That and the ability to carry off this stunning swath of sound. Ambition is great (I always salute it), but actually following through on far-reaching plans is most impressive. Dissent delivers.

    Fun? Yeah. Challenging? You bet. Rewarding? Absolutely. Dissent is always in motion, but this snapshot in time is most engaging.


    Primal Deconstruction
    (Wide Hive)
    reviewed in issue #269, October 2005

    Greg Howe's fusion (and I use that term in the widest possible context) outfit returns with another invigorating set. There's a lot going on in these songs, but somehow they manage to retain a highly accessible feel. Party jams for the Mensa set.


    Dissidenten
    Instinctive Traveler
    (Blue Jackel)
    reviewed in issue #148, 11/24/97

    A merging of Middle-Eastern and Asian pop music, all tripped together under electronic and r&b grooves, with the odd bursts of industrial guitar thrown in just to fuck with your hear. Something like Transglobal Underground, though much most convoluted, for better and worse.

    The "Bajka", who is featured, sings her lyrics in English and sounds like a mix of Lisa Stansfield and Sade. An unusual combination with the world beat rhythms and backing music, to be sure. It's better than Janet Jackson, but I'm not convinced.

    But Bajka trades off with other singers, who sing in a variety of tongues and over a wide assortment of underlying sounds. One of the strangest bits is "Blue World", which plys a basic blues groove with exotic instruments and vocals in a some Arabic tongue. Again, I'm not so sure it works, but it does make for arresting listening.

    A unique disc. The end results are often less than enthralling, but I have to say I'm more than impressed with the wide array of music incorporated into this album. Keep taking chances.


    The Distance Formula
    The Distance Formula EP
    (Distance Formula Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #184, 7/5/99

    Must be nice to live in New York and be able to call up Martin Bisi and get him to produce some of your songs. Of course, you've got to be pretty good. And the Distance Formula (sort of the house band for the label of the same name) is better than pretty good.

    Somewhere on the noise-pop side of emo (though without a keel haul of distortion), or maybe that's the other way around. Reminds me a bit of the Regrets (you know, the latter-day Vitreous Humor). Not quite so involved, but close.

    The lines are constantly in motion, occasionally coming together for some sort of cohesive chorus or something. Occasionally. Usually there is a nice feel of organized chaos to the sound. Every player has his role, but the band is only barely holding together at the center. Man, I like the way that works.

    Four songs, all impressive. Involved music which lends itself to a casual listen. Yeah, I'm a sucker for this vein of stuff, but even so I'm knocked out. Yes, Bisi did his usual quality job. And the band did even more.


    split 7" with Stereobate
    (Distance Formula Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #214, 4/2/01

    I'm not going to talk about the titles for the songs here (two of them clock in at about 20 words per). Commentary about the music will suffice.

    Stereobate brings a nicely complex instrumental to the party, the sorta song that would do Don Caballero or June of 44 proud. There isn't a point so much as a general theme, and then the story ends abruptly. As it should.

    The Distance Formula whips out a couple of well-constructed tunes, somewhere between the ol' indie-rock ideal and emo stridency. Nice harmonies and fairly atonal guitars. All tied up into a tight little package. These folks sure know how to write songs.

    A quality pairing. Two bands that don't quite fit together naturally, which makes for a good set. There's just enough of a connection to help expand both bands' horizons.


    The Distillers
    The Distillers
    (Hellcat-Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #199, 5/8/00

    There has been an increasing fixation on "old-school" punk, stuff that brings to mind the Stooges, New York Dolls, early Clash, etc. The Distillers take that ragged, shredded edge and drop just a hint of melody in the hooks. Enough to snag a few bites, anyway.

    The Distillers have two things going for them. First, an attitude that simply pile-drives the songs into overdrive. Second, an inerring ear for exciting music. Okay, so both of those are somewhat broad categories. The fact remains that the music is somewhat sloppy and not always well-constructed. Yet it always remains infectious.

    Not so much a brilliant reworking as a spectacular homage. The Distillers aren't breaking any new ground here. They're not taking this music anywhere it hasn't been. They're just giving it one hell of a brand new shine.

    I hope this doesn't sound like I'm trying to rip on the band. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I'm trying to say is this is a real rip-snorter of an album. Even if it does wallow in the past a bit, the songs sure satisfy. A truly rollicking experience.


    Distorted Pony
    Instant Winner
    (Trance Syndicate)
    reviewed in issue #51, 3/31/94

    Pile-driving semi-industrial musings that are truly inspiring.

    DP combines a real drummer (or two) and a drum machine as well as I've heard before. The most amazing percussive effects I've heard in a long time, to be honest. And to find that, you have to pry away this overall layer of driving guitar and pounding bass that move in the most addictive ways.

    This is the sort of music that scares people. Deadly serious and deadly cool. DP has the most ferocious sound I've heard in quite a while. Damn, this rocks. I just can't say enough.


    The Distraction
    Calling All Radios
    (Dirtnap)
    reviewed in issue #234, October 2002

    I'm gonna piss these boys off, but what the hell. The Distraction reminds me of nothing less than Motley Crue's first album. Well, with the exception that this stuff is straight punk, rather than moderately metallized punk.

    The vocals have the same strangled squirrel sound that dogged Vince Neil until he found a producer who could make him sound (vaguely) like a singer. The guitars are just as basic and forthright. And the songs are straight line simple. Okay, so I could have mentioned, say, Iggy and the Stooges, but I thought bringing up the Crue would be a bit more eye-catching.

    The production is a step above wretched, and that suits these down-n-dirty songs just fine. I've always been somewhat suspicious of self-consciously messy punk, but these boys make this stuff really groove. Who cares if they know how to record a sharp record but decided to be sloppy instead?

    Nobody, not when the stuff is this much fun. Listen to it loud. Really damned loud. And then turn up the volume a notch or two. See what happens then.


    Ditch Witch
    If I Lose 7"
    (Faye)
    reviewed in issue #2, 11/15/91

    Some of you may have heard of a rockabilly band on Norton called the Untamed Youth. Well, they originated right here in Columbia, and one of their ex-members joined forces with members of an local ex-band called 2.2 Children to create Ditch Witch. This single is also the first on Columbia's own Faye Records (You'll have to ask about the story behind the name. It's pretty cool).

    Anyway, these boys know how to rock, albeit in a laid-back, midwestern kind-of style. But this single has been riding high at KCOU and even well-received on my metal show.


    Her Fall double 7"
    (Faye)
    reviewed in issue #25, 11/30/92

    I know, you swear local bias, but I really like these guys. When Barry and Jerry cranked up Faye Records a couple of years ago, little did they imagine they would create a semblance of a Columbia, Mo., "scene." But with two single out from Currer Bell, and this release of the second (and third) Ditch Witch singles, they may just have. Oh, sure, they also have put out 7-inches from St. Louis bands the Boo-Rays and Small Ball Paul (see their review) and K.C.'s the Starkweathers, but all of these bands are well-known and play in Columbia often. Ditch Witch especially have a serious following.

    And these songs give good reason. Solid noise rock, with both punk and country leanings. While they are rather hard to describe specifically (other than "fuckin-A!"), they are easy to love. Crank these tunes and smile, knowing you are spreading the love of vinyl across the nation. Not to mention the love of great music.


    Everywhere Nowhere
    (Grass)
    reviewed in issue #61, 8/31/94

    If there is such a thing as the Columbia (Mo.) sound, Ditch Witch is it. Piling heavy, melodic riffs on top of punk-shout vocals and tying it all up in a college rock package, these boys have been around the area for years.

    As a caveat, I have liked this band and one of its predecessors, 2.2 Children for a long time. Like five or six years. Just so you know.

    Live, the band can be more animated, but the six new tracks on the disc display the moodiness that seems to attract many of the M.U. unwashed to the shows. The other five tracks are from the Faye Records 7"s, though not all of the "Her Fall" double 7" is included. Many of you (maybe all) haven't had access to that fine work, and it deserves light.

    Speaking truthfully (as I like to do), "If I Lose" is one of my all-time favorites. It rips with an emotional intensity that you don't usually find in such sonic ware. That emotion makes Ditch Witch a real force, whether the song being performed is mellower or heavier.


    Dive
    Reported remix EP
    (Fifth Colvmn)
    reviewed in issue #116, 8/12/96

    Eight takes on the Dive song "Final Report" by Numb, Monolith, Die Krupps, Hybrids, :Wumpscut:, Leaether Strip, Temple Beat and Starfish Pool. Gets a little dreary after a bit.

    The original track must have been pretty dull. Most of these mixes are uninspired and uninteresting, and those are the good ones.

    Take Leaether Strip. Claus Larsen usually can be counted on to crank out a great remix. But while his dissection is clean and somewhat different than most of the others, I just can't get exited. And his is one of the better cuts on the set.

    Utterly pointless. I understand the motive, but the result did not deserve to be released. Better luck next time.


    D!v!s!on #9
    The True Creator
    (Full Contact-Fifth Colvmn)
    reviewed in issue #116, 8/12/96

    First set of trance (that stuff that merges the gaps between techno, industrial and ambient) that I've heard since the last Virtualizer. And Division #9 does pretty well, almost living up to that high standard.

    The bass is fuzzy and brassy, and the guys incorporate all sorts of beat patterns into the mix. This stuff doesn't get dull, certainly. Plenty of stuff to throw onto the dance floor, as well.

    Each of the nine tracks is different from the others, a trait generally lacking in this sort of disc. But Division #9 has done a fine job of traversing the wide expanses of the electronic music universe to craft these pieces. That care and work is evident and quite appreciated.


    Divit
    Low Speed Chase
    (Coldfront)
    reviewed in issue #188, 9/20/99

    Energetic and peppy pop hardcore. Very much in the Down By Law tradition, though certainly heavier. There is a definite attraction to the hook, though, which keeps things lighter than might be imagined for the sound.

    There is a spark missing, though. At times, Divit sounds like it's searching for the groove, not quite sure where to strike the next note. The boys don't sound completely confident in their sound or songwriting abilities.

    Which is odd, considering the abandon with which they play. The odd drop-out sounds out-of-place, and yet, it's always lying around in wait. Hard to really explain without pointing to sections of songs, but basically at times the momentum of the tunes just gets lost.

    And yet, this is an appealing disc. The problems, while annoying, don't ruin the set. They are merely an aggravation. If Divit can chart its course a bit better, well, the sounds might be wonderful. Here, they're just alright. With loads of potential.


    Latest Issue EP
    (Coldfront)
    reviewed in issue #195, 2/14/00

    Divit is plenty rough around the edges, cranking out some loud, if not particularly polished punk rawk.

    In fact, that lack of craft is at first charming. It gets a little grating once it becomes obvious that the boys have some troubles finishing songs in one piece. Hey, I'm all for smashing the restraints of convention, but Divit sounds like it wants to be a poppy punk band. It just doesn't know how.

    Still, the energy level is good and high. There is a fine intensity which keeps these songs from getting dull. They just don't excite all that much, either.


    The Divorce
    The Gifted Program
    (Made in Mexico)
    reviewed in issue #268, September 2005

    Somewhere between Icicle Works, the Cars and Joe Jackson lies the Divorce. That's one hell of a love triangle, don't you think?

    And yes, despite the obvious Brit influences, these boys are fully 'merican. Kinda like the Wrens--and that's a reference I don't let fly idly. The depth of these songs can often be measured in fathoms. There's a lot going on in a really tight space.

    'Cause we are talking about rockin' pop songs. Stuff that blisters, burns and then scrapes off the goo. Damn. I haven't heard cruelty that sounded this sweet in years. These boys aren't nice, but they're damned fine.

    Kicks my ass so many ways I can't even begin to count. Albums that immediately impress me like this don't come along very often. Albums that have this sort of lasting appeal are even rarer. I'm a slave to my musical taste, of course, but I simply can't imagine anyone failing to respond to these guys. Quality of the highest order.


    The Dixie Hummingbirds
    Music in the Air: 70th Anniversary Celebration
    (House of Blues-Platinum)
    reviewed in issue #186, 8/16/99

    If you ever wondered just how it was that folks like Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner could come from a church singing background and then record the ripping stuff they did in the sixties, well, this disc might set you straight.

    It's not so terribly amazing that there is a group of guys still calling themselves the Dixie Hummingbirds. After all, the Duke Ellington Orchestra still tours. What is astonishng is that two of the original 1928 members are still in the group. And singing. Singing with all the power and knowledge of a full life.

    This is gospel music in all its fury and power. Friends like Isaac Hayes, Wynonna Judd, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon stop by (Simon contributes a new recording of "Loves Me Like a Rock", which he recorded with the Hummingbirds more than 25 years ago), and instead of a bloated, excessive nostalgia trip, the album is tight and impressive.

    Seventy years gone and still singing strong, the Hummingbirds know how to work some of the most impressive harmonies around. Folks with greater knowledge can quote you the state sheets; I'm just gonna say this was a joy to hear.


    The Gabe Dixon Band
    Love Story CD5
    (Reprise)
    reviewed in issue #222, 9/24/01

    This is one of them "get the buzz out" kinda promo discs. Sometimes I review 'em, sometimes I don't. Depends on my mood. Thought I might kick a few thoughts out Gabe Dixon and friends.

    First, I gotta tell you that it's nice to hear a rock band led by a piano player with a saxophone chaser. Yeah, I know all about Ben Folds Five, and there's a vague--very vague--resemblance at times. Mostly, though, this reminds me more of the whole Rufus Wainright phenomenon, though decidedly stripped down.

    Still nicely manic, though. These three songs definitely did not do what I thought they would. There's a lot of twists and turns, but everything works out in the end. The full production sound convinces me that this is a major label recording. That so much creativity was allowed to bloom is a bit surprising. We'll see if this gets the push it deserves.


    DJ Andy Smith
    The Document
    (phase4/London)
    reviewed in issue #161, 6/15/98

    You know the DJ, right? That guy who spins records before shows, during rave/house parties, and makes the squiggy noises on rap records. Well, now they've got record contracts, too. And it's about time. A little Canadian label called NinjaTune has been putting out some of the best DJ records in the last couple of years, including Coldcut's Let Us Play and the Herbalizer's Blow Your Headphones. Enter the major labels.

    DJ Andy Smith opened Portishead shows, getting the crowd into a frenzy with his record collection, not his rapper friends. The Document is a true mix tape, taking pieces of songs (in some cases, very large pieces) and stringing them together for 45 minutes or so of groove. While it begins with three rap tunes (including one from the Jungle Brothers), Smith does not stay in this realm all day.

    70s funk records, Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Tom Jones and Peggy Lee's version of "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" are all cut up and pieced into Smith's montage. Sometimes it seems as if the DJ has left the table, leaving only one record playing, and then the song begins to change, morph and jump around in a way the original never did.

    And then the song is gone, replaced in Smith's cohesive music consciousness with yet another bouncy tune. A true party record for cross-genre music lovers. Those who can get with guitar rock, rap, funk and whatever else is thrown their way.
    --Matt Worley


    DJ Cam
    The Beat Assassin
    (Columbia-Sony)
    reviewed in issue #158, 5/4/98

    The sort of music that would fit in with the Wordsound crew. Hip-hop beats diced and sliced into something new. At least until the rapping starts.

    And when the vocalists are on (some sloppy work there, to be sure), the music retreats to basic backing fare. When the DJ is in control, however, the music is an impressive collage of hip-hop, jazz and electronic influences. Well-textured and presented.

    The album is about half DJ-controlled and half led by rapping. The vocal-less tracks are far superior, though the little dance-hall dub "Hardcore Freestyle" is an exception. Some nice vocal work there.

    If the music didn't tail off so during the rappers, I wouldn't mind so much. There's just no reason to dumb down the backing tracks. DJ Cam obviously knows how to craft some fine stuff.


    DJ ELI, Q-Unique, Godfather Don, J-Treds and M.F. Doom/Dysfunctional Family
    Fondle 'Em Fossils 12"
    (Fondle 'Em-Definitive Jux)
    reviewed in issue #224, 11/5/01

    The usual three takes (original, clean and instrumental), a flip with a remix by XX and a single b-side--Dysfunctional Family's "Feelin da Highs." "Fondle 'Em Fossils" can be found on the Farewell Fondle 'Em collection, but "Feelin de Highs" is here alone.

    "Fondle 'Em Fossils" is what it should be, a celebration of what the Fondle 'Em label has been. The original is slinky and smooth, while the remix is raw and bombastic. Both are a lot of fun. As for the Dysfunctional Family, well, it's a cool party track.

    A good package, especially for those who like to delve into the corners of underground hip-hop.


    DJ Kool
    Let Me Clear My Throat
    (American)
    reviewed in issue #128, 2/17/97

    DJ Kool owes Schoolly D. Big. Everything from his delivery to the use of real instruments and the style of his backing music are straight out old school. That's the part I like.

    Kool boasts a bit too much and relies on a few too many cliches to make a big impression, though. Of course, I said the same about Schoolly D years ago. No more fuckin' rock and roll, indeed.

    Six tracks, a remix and a silly intro. Seems a bit slim for a full release. I like the spare sound and the general messiness of the proceedings, but DJ Kool has to tighten up just a bit. The "all-star" remix of the title track is amusing, but nothing more.

    There's not enough here to really say much more. DJ Kool has a good handle on how to use music, but the rap side of things is a bit beyond his capabilities here.


    DJ Logic
    Zen of Logic
    (Ropeadope)
    reviewed in issue #274, May 2006

    As if by divine providence, I've received a number of albums with great beatwork this month. DJ Logic, however, has the only one that is largely beats and beats alone. And it's mind-jarringly good.

    Absolutely masterful. I hate to repeat myself, but in my book the master of the hip-hop instrumental is RJD2. DJ Logic takes that smooth, strong sound and adds more of an electronic sheen to it. And he's got a slightly different musical perspective as well.

    More of straightforward hip-hop influence in the beats, while the attendant music is more on the rock and roll side. At times pretty, at times chunky, always inspiring.

    The tracks with guest MCs don't stint on the beatwork. Rather, there seems to be a sense of real collaboration, something greater than the parts. Which is always the best way to go.


    DJ Mark Farina
    Mushroom Jazz Volume 2
    (Om-World Domination)
    reviewed in issue #171, 11/9/98

    The DJ's contribution was mostly to smoothly mix in a variety of tracks. Stuff that sounds something like the electronic edge of acid jazz perhaps. I'm sure there's a name for it, and I'm just as sure that I'm completely out of the loop.

    But whatever. These are smooth, mellow hip-hop gooves which quietly impress. Just because the stuff isn't in-yer-face doesn't mean there isn't some fine work goin' on. The disc slowly mutates around the sound, accessing different acts and songs while maintaining nicely.

    Just hang-out sorta thing. Nothing particularly stunning, but plenty to approve of here. Nice little grooves which keep trippin' all the way to the end. I can dig, most certainly.


    DJ Methodikal
    Alarmingly Lo-Fi
    (Wordclock)
    reviewed in issue #265, June 2005

    One of those albums where the title really does tell it like it is. This isn't a collection of hip hop grooves. It's a warped assortment of distorted electronic melodies and old-school digital hardcore beats.

    Yes, yes, it's all been done before. And probably with a bit more manic intensity. Still, I haven't heard anything this engaging on this front in quite a while. DJ Methodikal (another appropriate moniker) knows how to make the speakers throb in a most engaging manner.

    Lo-fi? Actually, no. Just a lot of distortion. The sound is shiny and not entirely without character. There are shades in this world, even if they are fairly stark. Think of it as a well-appointed digital hardcore flat.

    I have always been attracted to manic beatsmithing combined with often-incomprehensible noise. DJ Methodikal actually keeps most of his melodies within the realms of the physical world, but there's plenty of noise and power to make me happy. Very happy, in fact.


    DJ Sun
    One Hundred
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #344, 1/21/13

    A Houston institution, DJ Sun takes the experience (and ears) of hosting a local radio show and throws just about everything into these samplefests. Whippersnappers might not recognize where these sounds originated, but the sly, slinky assemblies ought to bring a smile nonetheless. At times, DJ Sun allows a bit more than a minor quotation, but his taste is so good that simply pretend not to notice. A must for your next party.


    DJ? Acucrack
    Mutants of Sound
    (Slipdisc/Mercury)
    reviewed in issue #157, 4/20/98

    The surest way for a major label to co-opt a musical movement is to score a distribution deal with an indie label. Little risk for the big boys, with al the gains. An old story, and one that has been playing itself out in the new electronic landscape over the last year.

    And so DJ? Acucrack (a.k.a. Acumen and Acumen Nation) gets a wider stage for its music. Stuff that's centered in the whole "electronica" complex, but with a good many subtle shadings. Indeed, Acumen (etc.) has always been about toning down the noise.

    Even while propagating it further. The songs follow the familiar building format, but with more of an emphasis on soundscapes than sampled guitar riffs and drum machine breakbeats. Even more toward than ambient than I've heard from this outfit in the past.

    A solid album. Probably too weird and fuzzy for the masses to wrap their collective mind around, but that just means the stuff is good.


    DM3
    Dig It the Most
    (Bomp!)
    reviewed in issue #146, 10/27/97

    Extremely hooky Aussie pop. DM3 has included 20 (yeah, 20) songs, all of which seem to have an astonishing ear for achingly gorgeous music.

    The band whips out all sorts of different styles, though I'd say there is some serious devotion to Radio City ("Speed Freak" is awful close to "Back of a Car", and that's just fer starters). There are also plenty of references to Elvis Costello and other pop icons. These guys have done their homework.

    The sound is nice and punchy, with a little grit where it's called for. Mitch Easter and the band did a terrific job. The playing is rather joyous, completing all the requirements for pop nirvana. DM3 has this stuff down.

    This could have been split into two albums, and no one would have minded putting out the cash. Pop that's hard to turn off. Top notch, period.


    Do or Die
    Psychoburbians-Best Of
    (Machinery)
    reviewed in issue #71, 2/28/95

    Filtering a hard techno sound though a disco filter, Do or Die has an addictive club sound.

    Awash in goth overtones as well, at times Do or Die sounds like a peppier Sisters. But the disco glories keep the mood from dropping too much.

    Six remixes, all highly combustible. I dare anyone to play this stuff and not dance (perhaps that explains the song "Dance or Die", other than until recently Dance or Die was the name of the band). All the club cliches, done in an interesting fashion. Do or Die has to tools to get anyone on the floor.


    Doc Hopper
    Zigs, Yaws & Zags
    (Go-Kart)
    reviewed in issue #179, 3/29/99

    Well, not quite so spirited as the other Go-Kart stuff I've reviewed. The sound is certainly a bit muted (though still bright by any regular punk-pop standards. More and tighter hooks, though, with some of the sharpest lyrics around. I mean, try on "Einstein Married His Cousin (The Easy Way Out)" just for size.

    Big, monster howls of laughter. The guys sing about the joys and pain of not getting along well with the girls. And some other bits of amusement, though the failures of love certainly carry the day.

    Ever so tuneful, though I do wish the sound had just a bit more bite. This could be a reaction to the Candy Snatchers (which I reviewed right before this), though, and I might reconsider this notion a few listens down the road. And you can count on this puppy in my discer.

    Solid and mostly inspiring stuff. The kinda thing that just might convince a few wags out there that punk isn't full of boring, generic bands after all. Hey, this is some fine shit.


    The Stepchildren of Rock split LP with Weston
    (Go-Kart)
    reviewed in issue #179, 3/29/99

    Actually, Weston leads off this double shot of live sets, but in the interests of alphabetical order I stuck Doc Weston first. Hope this doesn't confuse anyone.

    And really, this is two live albums for the price of one, clocking out at more than 70 minutes. Each band goes through a full set (16 and 13 songs, respectively) , rambling through most of the familiar territory.

    Right. Weston's songs are fairly crafted, but the playing here is rather sloppy. In the live context, this works quite nicely. Plenty of energy, and the sound is excellent. Works about as well as a studio album, really. In fine form, truly.

    And the Doc Hopper is much the same way. Looser and more aggressive than studio stuff, but not overly so. The clever lyrics are still on full display, and quite honestly, I like this sound better than what I heard on Zigs.... Well done all the way around.


    Dr. Bob's Nightmare
    She's the One 7"
    (King Alcohol)
    reviewed in issue #71, 2/28/95

    A great 4-song pop-punk extravaganza. Short, sweet and tasty.

    Your standard 3-piece band, but there is a knack to writing catchy songs, and these folks have it. Sometimes life doesn't have to be complicated, after all. Play this until you go blind (well, actually, until you go deaf).

    In case you didn't notice, Dr. Bob's Nightmare gets a big thumbs up. My volume meter is maxed out.


    Stinkin' Thinkin'
    (King Alcohol)
    reviewed in issue #123, 11/18/96

    Fast beats, cheap and sleazy guitars, sometimes inscrutable lyrics ("Three nights in west Texas, that's all I want from you"--I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!) and a general sense of fun that is often missing from the current set of punk ideologues.

    Indeed, Dr. Bob's Nightmare breaks almost all the rules, espousing the general sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle even while lampooning it. The band is versatile to wrap itself around stripped-down versions of many musical forms (generally getting back to punk by the end of things). Fans of old Social D. (the Restless days) should gobble this up with greedy gulps. Anyone who appreciates a band that refuses to take anything or anyone seriously (including themselves; bassist and sometime singer Wendy Lee Gadzuk will be appearing on the cover of a tattoo magazine in a couple weeks) can't really resist. And hell, the music is just what the doctor ordered (oh, man, I'm sorry about that...).

    A real blast. Twenty tunes, fifty minutes, and not a bad one in the bunch. Gutter punk in all its fury and glory. Great fun.


    Dr. Dan
    Dan on the Moon
    (Terminus)
    reviewed in issue #201, 6/26/00

    Easy-flowing keyboard soul. Dr. Dan's fingers provide most of the action, and the songs follow from there. Think of mellow fusion with a soul twist, and you'd be in the right arena.

    And while he's a technical whiz, it's the feel that really sells these tunes. The vocals, when they appear, really aren't necessary. And the rest of the band is just that, generally relegated to the back lines.

    But, see, that doesn't really matter all that much. Dr. Dan spins so many grooves from his fingers that all of the other shortcomings kinda fade away. These songs are so much fun to hear, the nitty-gritty is an afterthought.

    A simple pleasure, perhaps, even though the playing is anything but. Dr. Dan lays down the lines, and my ears follow. That is simple, indeed.


    Dr Frank
    Show Business Is My Life
    (Lookout)
    reviewed in issue #182, 5/17/99

    Dr Frank is, of course, the stalwart leader of the Mr T Experience. But instead of translating all these songs into the punk milieu, Frank decided to simply leave them in their original forms. All fairly basic rawk and roll, but not at all terribly punk. Particularly the songs which feature simply Frank singing over his acoustic guitar.

    The lyrics some of Frank's most witty and clever. A good number of MTX songs are also well-constructed jokes, but the edge is sharper here, and significantly meaner in spots. I'm quite glad he went with his darker instincts.

    The press notes intimated something of a real change in Frank's songwriting style. I don't hear that. This is the same basic pop, just not quite wrapped in an MTX package. And the one-liners are vintage Dr Frank. I mean, no one can toss off sarcastic bits of fire like he can.

    A change of pace, but not a change in attitude. I kinda like this better than the last couple of MTX discs (which I loved), just for the variance in sounds. It's good to take a break sometimes. As long as you don't forget what you do best. And all that's right here.

    See also The Mr T Experience.


    Doctor Hadley
    Mondo Bizarro
    (Doctor Dream)
    reviewed in issue #124, 12/2/96

    Wasn't there a Ramones album by the same name? I don't think I'm fucked up here...

    But I'll be happy to judge Doctor Hadley on its own merits. Extremely fuzz-heavy pop, with the main action of the songs seeming to take place somewhere a ways away from your ears. I mean, the basic construction of these tunes is light enough to float a balloon, but the band decided to add a few layers of sound between the nugget of the song and the full effect. Something like if Cheap Trick had decided to use the production tricks that Guns N' Roses did on the Use Your Illusion albums.

    Which is to say, listening to this will knock you way off-kilter. It just doesn't make any sense, but it's good enough to keep the disc in the machine. The songs aren't aiming for greatness, but they're catchy enough. And the whole effect is just damned strange.

    This stuff has alt. pop potential, if folks can accept the unusual presentation. All that work for, well, fairly ordinary songs. Why not, man?


    Premium Sound System
    (Buzzchunk-Riviere International)
    reviewed in issue #186, 9/28/98

    It still sounds like Guns 'N' Roses playing Cheap trick songs. Which actually is a pretty cool idea. Doctor Hadley writes basic pop songs with some nice riffage, and then really dresses the things up in the studio.

    Rearranging song construction, adding in lots of echo and reverb and generally mucking around a bit. There is more acoustic guitar work here than on the last album I heard, but my general sense of the band is the same. A sound worth delving into.

    It is the unusual band which can remind me of the Ramones, Poster Children and Law and Order (a not terribly famous early 90s glam metal band), all in the same song. Particularly strange when the band is most obviously playing pop music.

    Terrifically textured stuff, with plenty of room to roam. Doctor Hadley has polished up its already impressive studio skills, leaving this album full of some of the more compelling pop music I've heard this year.


    Dr. Octagon
    The Return of Dr. Octagon
    (OCD International)
    reviewed in issue #277, August 2006

    The Dr. is in. Or, as he is known in the rational universe, Kool Keith. It's been a while since his alter ego graced the audio waves, but damn, you just can't fuck with the Dr. To say it don't get any better than this is to perpetuate a cliche in the interests of supplicating genius.

    Or something like that. The beats are, indeed, genius, and the rhymes are funny and shockingly incisive. I haven't heard an album that stripped bullshit to the bone like this in ages. Years. Decades, maybe. Well, decade. Or so.

    Laugh out loud funny and immutably booty-moving as well. This might be the perfect party album except that there's often something serious going on underneath the grooves. Uproarious on top, and deadly true at the base. Make that the bass. Whatever.

    What did you expect? When Kool Keith puts on the stethoscope, he doesn't mess around. Sublime perfection from start to finish. If this doesn't end up as my favorite album of the year, God will have to create itself and shoot a thunderbolt through my brain.

    Hey, who knows. It might happen.


    Dr. Squish
    Dr. Squish
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #189, 10/11/99

    A strange cover and band name for folks who play basic anthemic rock. Valentina Cuden's vocals make this more interesting than it should be, but come on. Grunge died a few years ago.

    Okay, that was harsh. And not fair. Dr. Squish doesn't play grunge. This is merely slow to mid-tempo rock played with thick guitars and fairly standard bass lines. Like I said, without the vocals, there's nothing distinctive here.

    Which is too bad, because the playing is quite good. It's even somewhat expressive, which is hard to fathom, considering how mundane the music is.

    Boy, I hate to slag on a disc like this. It's easy to hear how much time and effort the folks put into making a good-sounding product. What I don't here is enough work on the creative end. Dr. Squish needs to find its own voice, its own sound. Some way of breaking out from the pack. Something to make assholes like me take notice.


    Dr.roberts
    Dennis Foxx Lives EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #214, 4/2/01

    I haven't heard a band so enamored with the Treepeople in ages. Clockhammer, too. Great bands. Haven't been around for years. You have no idea who I'm talking about, do you?

    Basically, you take yer regular bash 'n' pop, throw in a singer who likes his vocals hoarse and then color the music with truly inventive and somewhat counterintuitive guitar work. Great lead lines, in other words.

    Anyway, then you play the songs a few beats faster than you really oughta. Get that out-of-control feeling going. Play even faster. Don't worry about consistency, because all that energy is gonna sound great on tape.

    The thing is, it does. Dr.roberts knows precisely hose to make this sound sing. Oh, man, I'm riding hard today. What a rush.


    Dog Eat Dog
    Warrant
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #37, 7/31/93

    If I'm not mistaken, the last Warrant album was called Dog Eat Dog. I guess that's a joke.

    I wish the music was. I've never been a fan of dirge-like hard core. The last Rollins album didn't really appeal to me, and this doesn't either. I've heard so many bands that sound like this, I can't find anything real interesting to latch on to.

    This is just an EP. Maybe an album will show some growth.


    All Boro Kings
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #55, 5/31/94

    So are the saxophones an attempt to rip off the Bosstones or Rocket from the Crypt? You be the judge.

    While the horns flow with the sound of those bands, they manage to wank out the Dog Eat Dog sound a little more.

    On the plus side, the songs aren't quite as bad as their EP. In fact, when DED settles down and cranks out some decent hard core (for about 30 seconds at a time), I can get along.

    But these boys give lame Beastie Boy impressions and play this "jump around" style of music most of the time. It's enough to make a real rap fan want to do some damage.

    Just a hint for the boys: It's been done, and you aren't even the hundredth band to do it. I know it's a stretch, but how about some originality?


    Play Games
    (Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #113, 7/1/96

    Finally, Dog Eat Dog finds its groove. Yeah, this is cheesy rap-cum-punk-cum-punk-cum...cum, I guess. Utterly without any real artistic intent or merit, but fun nonetheless. I really enjoyed this disc, and I don't have any excuse.

    I've previously entreated the guys to write more for the horns and let the rest of the song take care of itself from there. Most of the tunes here are written around the gang vocal choruses, but the horns always seem to fit well in with that. And if this sounds simply like a punchier version of the Infectious Grooves, well, whatever. I like this, though I wouldn't recommend the sound for anyone starting out. It's taken Dog Eat Dog a few albums to work this out to this level, and even now few folks will call the band members serious musicians.

    But as entertainment goes, well, Play Games works. As long as you're not expecting any sort of masterpiece or even serious effort, this will do just fine. A few beers and you even have a party.


    Dog Faced Hermans
    Those Deep Buds
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #65, 10/31/94

    I'd call this band the British Alice Donut if it weren't for the obvious fact: Dog Faced Hermans don't really sound a lot like Alice Donut.

    And therein lies the mystery and the wonder. There are the wild horns in the background, meandering bass lines and a female singer (yes, I know Tomas of Alice D is a guy, but many times he doesn't sing like one). But the construction of the songs is not in the slightest way similar. So why the connection in my mind?

    Really great music, I suppose. And the one musical connection is the way you can find a coherent structure within the chaos of the sonic surroundings. These folks are artists, damnit! They don't play music you will recognize and swallow after a couple chomps. You must properly masticate.

    And if you can't swallow, then chew some more. Wonderful things will follow.


    Bump and Swing
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #72, 3/15/95

    Since the album did so well, AT licensed this live recording from a Dutch label, unleashing even more caustic swing on the U.S.

    The recording quality is very high in both the treble and bass ranges, which compliments the chaotic nature of the Hermans very well. Every little noise (not to mention the big ones) bounces out of the stereo with aplomb.

    Only a couple of the songs from the studio album appear here, so you get nine new visions of cacophonous glory.

    Sure, the Dog Faced Hermans are an intense experience, but you have to live sometime.


    Dogbowl
    Flan
    (Shimmy Disc)
    reviewed in issue #15, 6/15/92

    The soundtrack to a book written by someone named Stephen Tunney. Well, this Mr. Tunney also happens to go by the name Dogbowl. So it all makes sense.

    And brilliant is not too strong a word here. The songs are so pop... and so damn loopy. Why put steel drums and all of the other strange instruments into the mix? Because it all seems to make sense when the lyrics come together.

    At times the melodies can resemble a Raffi song (you know, sorta sing-songy), but this child-like innocence is put off by the rather graphic song material. And it all makes sense.

    I have listened to this about ten times in the last few days. I just keep flipping the vinyl over and over and over again. I can't feed enough from it. True genius that will entrap your soul.


    Doghouse Swine
    Fearless EP
    (Manta Ray)
    Dronen
    284 Days EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed 4/21/15

    Despite the bizarre ruling in the Robin Thicke/Pharrell/Marvin Gaye hangers-on case, music has always been about building upon the past. Led Zeppelin's first album of all-original material was its fifth. Run-DMC's version of "Walk This Way" still sounds great, not least because Aerosmith's original was already a rap song. And so on.

    There's plenty of music out there that is simply an echo of stuff we've heard before. Maybe a tweak here and there, but stuff that sticks to well-established territory. That's just fine.

    Doghouse Swine is three Jersey boys who play pretty loud, pretty fast and occasionally tuneful. This sounds like an easy task. It's not.

    Doghouse Swine does make it easy for itself, though, by stripping down every song to just the basics: solid riffage, tight rhythms and a short, sweet guitar solo. Hooks? Not really. But strangely hummable choruses nonetheless.

    Definitely on the "hard" side of rock, these boys are still quite faithful to the ol' Bo Diddley/Chuck Berry school. Find one piece that works, build your song and make sure everything relates to that kernel of greatness. And throw in just enough punkish sloppiness to give the songs a lived-in, offhanded feel.

    I could go on and on, but then I'd be repeating myself. And one of the great joys of this set is that Doghouse Swine has ripped the reverse out of gearbox. Like Satchel said, don't look back; something might be gaining on you. Though I think these boys have enough under the hood to outrun just about anyone.

    Dronen is also a trio, but one hailing from the other coast. And rather than sticking to basic rock, these boys kick out proto-punk that takes itself seriously. Dronen throws in some proggy notions, a whiff of the goth and plenty of noise, but in the end these are still basic three-chord rockers.

    In the hands of mortals, those tendencies generally result in a bloated mess. But Dronen keeps plenty of space in its sound, which both fills out the edges and gives the songs plenty of room to move. It's the ol' mid-90s "alternative" thing, to be sure, but these boys do it right.

    The songs themselves tend toward the longish side, which allows for some seriously orchestral anthemic finishes. It's no secret that Dronen is trying to make "important" music; at least, that's how these songs are constructed. That slow build to a monster finish can get old, but it's fine on an EP. I do hope the boys vary things up a bit on an album.

    Plenty of potential. I have no idea if Dronen will continue to evolve in an interesting way, but this is a fine set.

    Did Dronen or Doghouse Swine surprise me in any way? Not really. But they both have mastered their sounds. Perhaps that won't stand up so well on longer efforts, but these EPs are just dandy.


    Dogmatics
    1981-86
    (Vagrant-Shredder)
    reviewed in issue #91, 11/6/95

    Yet another compilation of tunes from a punk band of another era. Oddly, I have yet to hear one that is without some merit. The Dogmatics keep the streak alive.

    Based in Boston, the boys cranked out pop punk in a style a little less chaotic than the Replacements. Well, the Dogmatics weren't that talented, but the music is fun. And it helps to show how diverse the Boston punk community was ten to fifteen years ago.

    Nothing stupendous, the Dogmatics were still worthy of this retrospective. Simple, fun music has its benefits. The Dogmatics knew all about that.


    Dogon
    The Sirius Expeditions
    (New Dog-World Domination)
    reviewed in issue #158, 5/4/98

    Spacey, ambient fare which draws on most of the current electronic movements. Dogon (one person, I assume, though the liners don't help me out there) likes to break conventional song styles and preconceptions, dropping odd references and pieces wherever and whenever he (?) pleases.

    Much of the music is introspective and meditative, but don't expect consecutive songs to follow in the same vein. Dogon does a good job of mixing styles and idea, never falling into a rut.

    Surprisingly human sounding for an electronic project. Dogon makes wide use of reverb and always carefully crafts his samples and beats so as to sound warn and natural, avoiding the common sterility problems.

    The sort of album which encourages personal exploration. The music frees the mind, and the mind wanders out into new territory without fear of danger or recapture. The highest compliment I can pay to this sort of disc.


    Redunjusta 2xCD
    (Newdog)
    reviewed in issue #173, 12/14/98

    The first disc is a re-issue of the first Dogon album, Notdunjusta. This set of songs has never been available on a mass basis until now. The second disc is a set of remixes and other side projects for the act. Oh, what does Dogon do? Merely skim across the cream of the electronic ambient world. And while my review of The Sirius Expeditions is a bit vague on the matter, Dogon is Miguel Noya and Paul Godwin. Just so you know.

    Noodling, in that uncanny introspective fashion which inevitably results in contemplation. And like the best in this area, Dogon refuses to stick to any single idea, song structure or sound. While often understated, Dogon will, from time to time, come down (relatively) hard. The first disc is exactly what I anticipated, extremely creative electronic journeys into the deep recesses of the mind.

    The second disc, containing a few side projects, odds and ends and such, is at least as impressive as the first. Never afraid to chart new territory, the members of Dogon, together and separately, meander about in search of new forms of electronic expression.

    I can't recommend this one enough. The wealth of sounds leaves me gasping.


    Mary Dolan
    (Another) Holy Day
    (Earth Music-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #167, 9/14/98

    There's Melissa Etheridge, Jewel, Ani DiFranco and a whole host of rockin' folky rock singers. Women, of course. Mary Dolan is one of those. A woman, I mean.

    Can I start over?

    Alright, so what Dolan does is sing impassioned songs, sounding a lot like Janis Joplin (or Etheridge, or whatever). Not so ragged, more of a practiced voice, but husky when she wants it to be. She's got three songs with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and a nice backing band. The songs have a nice lilt to them, even though that lilt often lurches into excess from time to time.

    You know, like Vonda Shepard does when she's singing some syrupy oldie on Ally McBeal. Dolan doesn't seem to have any other way to really get down but to lapse into voice hurling.

    Apart from the unfortunate dips into anthemitis, Dolan does a good job of presenting her ideas and her voice. She does have a nice range, in general, and she has plenty to say. I'm still not sure how she's gonna jump out from the ever-enlarged pack of singers practicing her particular sound, but at least she does the trick well enough.


    Dolour
    Suburbiac
    (Fugitive)
    reviewed in issue #236, December 2002

    All the best British bands found their inspiration in American music. Dolour takes that one step further, playing American music based on Britpop which is, in fact, based on American music. Are you with me?

    Not quite in the way that Big Star interpreted the British invasion, mind you, but the methods are probably parallel. Dolour most resembles Supergrass, I guess, though there is a certain Yankee optimism that manages to bleed through the pores of the band's cynical skin.

    Reminds me a bit of the most recent Bad Astronaut album, though these songs are pretty much straight pop. There are a few interesting studio touches (piano here, cello there), but what rings true is the poppy goodness in the center.

    Oh, did I mention that Dolour is, for the most part, Shane Tutmarc? The guy on the cover? He has a few friends who stop by to help out, but this is his deal. Pretty impressive. Not because this is a one-man show. This album is impressive because it's so damned good.


    Don Caballero
    Our Caballero 7"
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #36, 6/30/93

    Talk about fucked up expectations. I was thinking of maybe a little country-influenced pop or something. I mean, just look at the name.

    This is wall-of-sound viciousness. Completely enthralling noise. Well, the flip is a little tone down, but not much. I played this thing over and over.
    An album is due in October. October? If this is anything near as good as the Arcwelder album (which followed a great 7"), I don't think I'll be able to keep my shorts clean.


    For Respect
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #41, 10/15/93

    Absolutely, positively the heaviest instrumental band in the universe. Bar none.

    The sound here is incredibly thick. Think Melvins, circa 1989 or so. With more tempo variations (read: they get fast sometimes). No vocals to fuck things up. Just a thick sound that won't dry up and get all crusty.

    Every once in a while I like to compare an album to a nice, long shit. I understand from comments some of you have made that this is an almost uniquely male thing, probably relating to some sort of repressed homosexual desire.

    I don't care. I like my long shits, and I love this album. It will pound your brain into jelly, which you can then spread on a nice peanut butter sandwich.

    Music like this makes good food.


    Don Caballero 2
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #89, 10/9/95

    Four guys from Pittsburgh who play loud music. This is album #2 (as you might have figured out from the title).

    Accessible, this is not. Enjoyable, this is. In fact, this is even more fun than the last set, which featured mostly short songs and more conventional structures.

    Don Cab goes all out here, with four of the eight tunes clocking in at over nine minutes. Plenty of noise in the background (in fact, "please tokio, please THIS IS TOKIO" could easily be called a masterpiece of noise.

    And as the notes say, "Don Caballero is rock not jazz". I don't care what the boys call it, I call it good. Sheer pain for the self-flagellating generation. I mean, most of you watch Friends, right? Don Cab is the perfect antidote.


    What Burns Never Returns
    (Touch and Go)
    released in issue #160, 6/1/98

    As George Bush has been known to say, "There has been an evolution in my position." Or more specifically, a shift in Don Caballero's musical emphasis.

    Cause, see, I've loved the band as one of them "reely reely individual type sorta groups". There are now three Don Cab albums, and none of them particularly resemble the other, with the obvious exception of a distinct lack of vocals.

    The last album was more conceptual and less direct (not so many pounding chords), and this puppy continues the trend. In fact, the delicate interplay between the band members sounds a lot more like Gastr del Sol or other Jim O'Rourke projects than anything Don Cab has released before.

    Not a bad thing at all. Music to complicate your life. This stuff demands attention and contemplation. Anything less would be insulting. I can't claim to understand exactly what inspires these intricately crafted masterpieces, but I do know great music when I hear it. And Don Cab can always be counted on for only the finest in aural adventure.


    Singles Breaking Up
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #174, 12/28/98

    Collecting a few odds and ends, Don Caballero presents five years¹s worth of innovative instrumental carnage. And, if I might comment on the accompanying photo art, I¹d have to say the concept of arranging seven-inches on the street and documenting the reaction of people and cars to them is brilliant. Might make a cool book, actually.

    As for the music, well, if you¹ve got all the singles, you¹ve got all but one song here. Of course, a couple of those slabs of vinyl are damned hard to find, and anyway, it¹s much nicer to hear them all sequentially.

    And since Don Caballero is one of the finest bands around, this collection is imperative for anyone who wishes to understand the current noise pop scene. Don Cab attacks the sound from all angles, and these singles are even a bit more experimental than the fine album fare. A lot of ground gets covered in 13 tracks.

    Some singles collections are full of fluff and filler. This one is pure inspiration. Search out at all costs.


    American Don
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    Another step down the road for Don Caballero. The songwriting and playing get tighter, and the musical ideas simply grow larger. What was once a throbbing ball of fuzz is now a whirling gyroscope, flashing off into all directions and yet somehow always managing to right itself.

    The ideas have become paramount. Don Caballero, over its last couple of albums, has wandered (vaguely) into the same territory as its labelmates in the Slint/Rodan/etc. progression (June of 44 comes immediately to mind, as it always does).

    But these guys write muscular songs, even if the lines are distinct. The points of intersection still vibrate with an almost unspeakable intensity. Are three guys really making music this complex, involved and vital? Yep.

    I expected greatness, and I got no less. Some bands get better with age. And some simply explode. I've always loved Don Caballero, and that devotion is rewarded ten times over with each new album.


    Donald Wilson
    Fred the Snowman 7"
    (Scheming Intelligentsia)
    reviewed in issue #42, 10/31/93

    Believe it or not, there are twelve songs here. You wouldn't guess by markings on the vinyl or even by listening, but the folks swear it's true.

    Ever listen to John Zorn? This is what he might sound like if he played guitar in a country band as opposed to saxophone in a jazz band. Well, and things get pretty heavy at times. And by the way, Donald Wilson is just like Danny Wilson: a group, of whom nobody has the surname Wilson.

    This isn't country and it isn't jazz (just like the press sez). It's very weird and yet compelling as hell. Just because something confuses you doesn't mean it's the work of geniuses, but in this case, it just might be.


    The Donnas
    Get Skintight
    (Lookout)
    reviewed in issue #183, 6/7/99

    A Runaways for a new generation, though the Donnas can play their instruments and they also write their own songs (except for the cover of "Too Fast for Love"). The music fits right in with that slow and simple Joan Jett burn, and Donna A.'s vocals have a nice husky sound, even though they're obviously overdubbed at times.

    The press clippings had notes in the mainstream press referring to "jailbait" and such, capitalizing on the youthful (though not actually underage) nature of the Donnas (they are all named Donna, BTW). Whatever. I'll listen to the music. And like I said, it's simple, but that works. There is the kitsch factor of oversexed girls, and that goes a long way for many.

    Not for me so much. I'm amused, but that's about it. On a purely musical standpoint, this stuff is fine. Nice for a summer afternoon with the windows down (or the top, if you've got one of them spiffy mobiles). I like Joan Jett for the same reasons. I know what I'm getting, and it works for me.

    Fun. That's the key. The Donnas don't get things complicated, and that works very well. They're not gonna save the world or anything, they just might be the life of a party.


    Donovan
    Sutras
    (American)
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #9, 10/21/96

    More American Recordings, if you will. Rick Rubin has recorded this disc emphasizing Donovan's voice and guitar, though there are a few other sounds wafting on the breeze.

    Unlike many of my hippie-children friends, I never got into Donovan. He seemed just a bit too silly to really take seriously. Season of the witch? Come on.

    Well, none of that has changed. The production is probably the best Donovan has had in his career, and the songs are probably as good as his old stuff (though I'm no authority there). This doesn't suck so much as fail to hold my interest. Well, that cloying voice does drive me up the wall after a few minutes...

    I know too many people who like this sorta stuff to really dis it hard. Rubin did do a nice production job, never overwhelming Donovan with extraneous nonsense. And Donovan sounds like Donovan, which should make plenty of people happy. Just not me.


    Dave Doobinin
    One Station Away
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #273, April 2006

    Laptop roots stuff, kinda like a stripped-down version of what Greg Garing did years ago. The songs roll along, sometimes with acoustic guitar and sometimes with electric. Doobinin doesn't much like to stick to the same sound, though he doesn't wander far from the up-and-down drum machine that backs just about every song here.

    The contrasts are quite interesting. At their core, these are simple folk or pop songs. And they're not particularly gussied up. It's just that the presentation is often decidedly unusual. That's what I like best, I think.

    And the studio tricks help, as Doobinin is merely a good songwriter. His melodies don't soar and his lyrics can get bogged down in the mundane. Nonetheless, he manages to make every song here worth hearing. Not many folks can say as much.

    A fun diversion from the everyday, even if the underpinnings are exactly that. Just trip along the easy beats and let the tunes wash over you. No better way to get in the mood.


    Doormats
    Edge of Insanity
    (Cold Front)
    reviewed in issue #155, 3/23/98

    Bil McRackin called up a couple friends from Vancouver and kicked out an album that recalls D.O.A., Nomeansno and the Ramones. Heavy bass, punchy drum work and an insistence on hooky choruses.

    Amusing, if not a life-changing event. Punk with that thick Vancouver feel, something I can never quite get enough of in my life. The songs tend to the generic, but they're energetic enough to get past that small problem.

    The lyrics have a nice bite, which makes up for the repetitive nature of the riffage. The sound is kicky enough, with the proper emphasis on the oozin-ahs.

    An album for devoted fans of this particular strain. Nothing particularly great, but a fun interlude nonetheless. This is good stuff, even if it is somewhat by the numbers.

    See also The McRackins.


    The Doosies
    Slept

    split 7"
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #145, 10/13/97

    These bands win on gimmick points alone. The sleeve folds out into a game that attempts to replicate the experience of touring across the country. It's completely hilarious, and not at all inaccurate. I've always wondered where bands parked when they played in New York. The game has the answer.

    As for the music, Slept plays a poppy form of emo, peppered with creative asides. The songs sometimes get a little lost with all the shifts, but all loose ends are tied up at the end in a rousing finale. Fun, fun.

    The Doosies utilize some sludge riffs in crafting their own vision of pop wonderland. Their one song, "Amateur Night", is a long, meandering tune full of great riffage. Pretty amusing, too. Kinda messy, but why complain?

    Both songs could easily have benefitted from better production (the songs are rather muffled, though not enough to obliterate the general idea), but the underlying talent cannot be ignored. And, hell, the game is worth the price of admission.


    Dope Body
    Nupping
    (Hoss Records)
    reviewed in issue #329, August 2011

    This Baltimore duo simply blows the shit out of whatever it plays. The word "experimental" is bandied about loosely by many, but that isn't really what's going on. Rather, Dope Body has stripped rock and roll down to its bare essentials--and added some serious reverb and distortion.

    "Noise" is appropriate, I assume, but really "noisy" would be better. These songs do have fairly rigid constructions (or, on occasion, deconstructions), but they simply don't have much in the way of prettification.

    Make me think of a funkier Zeke. Well, and (somehow) even more spartan. Louder, though. It occurs to me that there aren't many duos out there that manage to make this much of a racket. The Flat Duo Jets on a good night, perhaps, but that's a whole different type of sound and a long, long time ago to boot.

    Don't let the plain brown wrapper on the sound fool you. There's some serious sophistication going on here. Or maybe there's not, but once the riffage infects your soul it won't matter none anyways.


    Doppelganger
    Meet Your Evil Twin
    (Radio Mafia)
    reviewed in issue #169, 10/12/98

    Another in the increasing number of bands which incorporate gothic imagery (and some of the musical bits, too), glam metal riffs and the general spaciness of the glam rock of the 70s. A mishmash of excess laid over a pop soul. Doppelganger's one innovation (if you want to call it that) is that the singers (and most of the band, for that matter) are female.

    With a nice lush sound, Doppelganger plays in this mess at least as well as anyone. I like the loopy goofiness of the music, and I just don't pay any attention to the lyrics. What I did catch are pretty silly.

    But you know, this stuff is all about attitude and fun. There's really no reason to go looking for sterling philosophy with bands like this. Just hitch on to the bumper and enjoy the ride.

    Easy to like. Doppelganger lays down a plush carpet of grand sounds. As long as you don't go checking the foundation or anything, this disc ought to satisfy.


    The Dorks
    The Dorks
    (Man with a Gun)
    reviewed in issue #220, 8/13/01

    Thick and chunky power pop, complete with fuzzed out guitar and the occasional bit of organ. Loud and bouncy, just the way it should be.

    The Dorks aren't much for subtlety or sensitive subjects. The boys have something of a bludgeon attack, simply obliterating everything in their path. Nice to have yer head pounded out every once in a while.

    Most importantly, the hooks are golden. Blissfully messy and almost impossibly heavy. Kinda like if you could create a zeppelin with plutonium. If that makes any damned sense at all.

    The sorta album that makes summer fly by that much faster. For that matter, the kinda disc that warms up a chilly winter night. The Dorks keep things simple, and that's simply a recipe for big ol' smiles.


    Dos Coyotes
    Dos Coyotes EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #221, 9/3/01

    Heavily-produced country rock. Very much like the pop country that's dreadfully present these days except for one thing: These guys don't seem to take themselves seriously.

    That's important. I can accept brassy production (including synthesized horns) if the songs are good. And while Dos Coyotes aren't above pandering, these songs are generally fun, if not particularly deep.

    As if to prove my point, there's a dance mix of "Senorita," a song that was pretty poppy to being with. Thing is, I still had a good time. Dos Coyotes are right in the middle of the old new wave, but they've got some good songs. And that counts for a lot.


    Double Ought Spool
    Salad Days
    (Interference-Shrapnel)
    reviewed in issue #128, 2/17/97

    Or just Derek Taylor. All by himself. Again.

    This is a big rehash of various grunge and alterna-rock styles, but Taylor's talent (playing and producing) keeps this from becoming an exercise in monotony. The songs are surprisingly tuneful, even if they are all from the same mold.

    This guy is prolific and exceptionally gifted. I'm not sure that he's ever lived up to his potential, but I'm happy to listen to his attempts. There are some really nice moments on this otherwise middling set of songs. The best come when Taylor really stretches. Hey, we all know he's better with an axe than almost anyone in Seattle, but the key is songwriting. To be great one has to go beyond.

    And he does, a couple times. Enough to keep me on the string. Again.


    Doughnuts
    The Age of the Circle EP
    (Victory)
    reviewed in issue #88, 9/25/95

    Doomy-hardcore with seriously disturbed lyrics. Like if My Dying Bride met up with Earth Crisis and tried to merge both musical and lyrical ideas. Yep, a real bastard child.

    The hype is that the band consists of five Swedish women, but perhaps that explains the sound. Who knows. Vocalist Asa has a cool style that doesn't really imitate anyone in particular. The musical attack is a little unfocused and fuzzy, but I like that sound as well. This is a fine bit of work.

    And it simply keeps grinding on and on. Fellow Swedes Entombed could pick up some interesting ideas from Doughnuts. And, well, Doughnuts could finally drop off the metal-hardcore tightrope that it is currently walking. But that would be a real shame.


    Feel Me Bleed
    (Victory)
    reviewed in issue #147, 11/10/97

    Much more straightforward than their first EP. In fact, I can't even tell that this is the same band. This Doughnuts plays basic sludgy hardcore and is fronted by a new singer. I don't have the benefits of liners or any such information, but all of the voices on this puppy sound male(and I'm generally pretty good at discerning that sorta thing, even with hardcore).

    For all the messiness, I liked the old disc better. This is simply retread city, riffs I've heard a thousand times and lyrics that aren't much more original. Surprisingly bad, really, considering how much music creativity oozed from the EP. I don't know where it went, but it's not on this disc.

    This is pretty inexplicable. Actually, the stuff sounds a lot more like a bad version of Earth Crisis than the Doughnuts I'm familiar with. Very weird.

    Editor's note: Many years later, when I burned this CD into my iTunes, I discovered that the songs on this CD were not, in fact, a Doughnuts album. My ears were correct!

    Or maybe not. The album that was actually on this CD (there must have been a mistake at the factory; this was pretty common in the dark old days) was the Refused's Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent. And while it wasn't as good as what was to come from that band, my offhand review here was also miles off base.

    You win some, you lose some. . .


    Down By Law
    Blue
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #21, 9/30/92

    While supergroup is used a little much these days, Down By Law fit that in every way. With a lineup consisting of the remaining Chemical People, Dave Smalley of Dag Nasty, ALL and D.Y.S. and Chris Bagarozzi of Clawhammer (I noticed he always gets listed last. Sorry, man), DBL are heavy hitters. And certainly schooled enough in punk to move it on to the next level.

    Their debut last year was one of the year's best, and this begins where that one left off (cliche alert!). To get off the rhetoric, this smokes! As if the Epitaph label didn't clue you in, Blue is destined for greatness.

    If you don't play stuff like this on your show, then you are omitting one of the most vital sides of loud music. This isn't just pop-punk harmonizing, either. Bagarozzi's guitar work shines. The diversity in his punk attack is rather amazing.

    The moment this CD graces your airwaves, people will call. Blind will have sight. Frigidaires will fuck.

    Maybe not. But you'll love the music.


    Punkrockacademyfightsong
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #59, 7/31/94

    Surprise, surprise. Dave Smalley pissed off the last version of DBL and got a new crop of folks to pitch in.

    They do more than a passable job, although things do get a little dreary by the end. It seems Smalley may have run out of ideas a little early. The Proclaimers over is kinda funny the first time, really dumb the second.

    I can't imagine DBL holding court another time. Smalley should do what Chrissy Hynde shoulda done years ago: go by your own fucking name and leave the other name behind. This isn't a band, really. So let's not fake it.


    All Scratched Up!
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #101, 3/4/96

    It's always nice to hear Dave Smalley's voice, wherever it might be.

    As usual, there is a new member (Danny Westman on drums), but the rest of the line-up from Punkrockacademyfightsong remains, and that continuity has helped the songwriting and cohesion immensely.

    Where the last album was a real mess (and a big letdown from Blue), All Scratched Up! exudes a nice amount of punk attitude and some real moments of pop glory. The band has finally caught up with Smalley's voice.

    A cool return to form. I was kinda apprehensive about this when it showed up, but I'm always happy to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of an album. Perhaps this incarnation of DBL will stick around long enough to make an epochal statement. Next time, perhaps.


    Last of the Sharpshooters
    (Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #145, 10/13/97

    The last Down By Law show I saw in St. Pete, I got the feeling that Dave Smalley is really tired of touring. He does it and all, but not terribly willingly. And so there's always the hope that the new album will be good.

    And this one is just fine, living up to a relatively high standard. I don't head Dave getting too animated or anything, but the lyrics are good and the band pumps out all that pop-core that DBL is famous for propagating.

    Great? Well, probably not, but this is a more than solid set of punk tunes. Perhaps a bit machine-like at times, this disc is still head and shoulders above most of the (relative) kids out there.

    It's a Down By Law album. Fans will (and should) flock. If you're shopping for solid pop tunes with some bite and gristle, check it out.


    Fly the Flag
    (Go-Kart)
    reviewed in issue #186, 8/16/99

    Not sure why the exit from Epitaph, but hell, I'm always game for a new Down By Law disc. Frontman Dave Smalley replaced his rhythm section for this disc (though drummer Milo Todesco has been touring with the band for more than a year), but the sound is about what it's always been.

    Not quite as sharp soundwise as recent efforts, but I'm guessing this feel is what Smalley really wanted. The songs are leaner than the later Epitaph albums, but only in terms of degree. Sam Williams uses his guitar to a greater melodic effect, which compliments the slightly fuzzier feel.

    Indeed, most of the songs have more of a traditional pop sound, something which Smalley hasn't really resisted in the past. It's just more pronounced here. and it allows these songs to jump out from the pack a bit more than some of the old stuff.

    This is the most distinctive DBL disc I've heard in quite a while, and that's something to shout about. Fans expecting a punk powerhouse will be disappointed, but I'm guessing there will be few folks pissing on this Flag.


    Download
    Furnace
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #91, 11/6/95

    After listening to the 4-track sampler, I thought, "This is real accessible. Nothing like Skinny Puppy. Wow." I also wondered just when the discordance would kick in.

    As it turns out, on the other tracks. cEVIN KEY, the late Dwayne Goettel, Philth and Mark Spybey (Dead Voices on Air among other things) are the nucleus of the band, and Genesis P. Orridge drops by now and again. The result is an odd conglomeration of ambient noise, industrial noise, really wild dance music and a bunch of other sounds a little too odd to really categorize.

    All of which makes this a fine effort by the gang. Furnace could well have been a latter-day Skinny Puppy record, but Download serves these people well. Expect to be astonished and assaulted. Just a wondrous piece of work.


    Microscopic remix EP
    (Cleopatra)
    reviewed in issue #93, 12/4/95

    Well, mostly remixes, anyway. The more accessible tracks on the album are rendered into (mostly) even more club-admissible form. Okay by me.

    And the experimentation levels remain high. Download, after all, is more devoted to the mining of the frontier than to the serving of fodder. Microscopic keeps the standard high.

    While not quite as adventurous as the album, these remixes (and a couple new tracks) are worth searching out. The connoisseur of fine electronic experimental fare will feast on this assortment.


    III
    (Nettwerk)
    reviewed in issue #148, 11/24/97

    As most of you know, this was the first post-Skinny Puppy project (released even before the last Skinny Puppy arrived). This first Download disc was full of throbbing and often incoherent rhythms, pulsating disturbances that generally drowned out any serious attempts at musical composition. As a form of musical deconstruction, I was impressed.

    That less-commercial album came out on Cleopatra. This puppy is much more accessible. Compared to that first disc (I missed the one in-between; sorry), this stuff is positively ambient. That's not a terribly accurate description, though. This disc falls on the lighter side (soundwise) of electronic music. Not techno, not ambient, not industrial, but somewhere amongst that grouping.

    And highly attractive, to boot. The rhythm experimentation continues, but in a more mellow form. This Download isn't out to run you down, just get inside your head. and I can get along with that just as easily.

    Pleasant electronic music that still packs enough of a challenge to keep a demanding listener occupied. Creativity comes in all shapes and sounds.


    Downset
    About ta Blast 7"
    (Vis-A-Vis)
    reviewed in issue #38, 8/31/93

    Welcome to the post-hard core scene. Rapid-fire delivery that for all intents and purposes is rap, and a slower grind to the tunes. Bands like Suicidal and Biohazard have followed this path to success.

    I can see where these guys would get a major label deal, but I just don't get into it. It sounds like a lot of stuff I've heard before. I know, I know, the kids love it. Henry Rollins is now a Seventeen pin-up, and I bet we'll see Mike Muir on the cover of Sassy soon. I don't have to like it.


    Anger 7"
    (Theologian)
    reviewed in issue #53, 4/30/94

    I still get the "God, wouldn't it be really cool to sound like Hank Rollins?" vibe, complete with the current Rollins Band blend metallic riffs over hard core beats.

    Lyrically, this is general unfocused pissed off rage. While I agree with the anti-rape sentiment of "Ritual", I get the feeling these folk have read a lot and not understood quite as much. It comes off as a reading of propaganda, as well-intentioned as it is.


    The Downside Special
    The Downside Special
    (Cambodia)
    reviewed in issue #175, 1/25/99

    Ooh, a really cool fuzzbomb. The Downside Special slogs its way through some wondrous noise, always on the beat. Nothing like the blues as played by an almost-incoherently distorted guitar.

    And I mean that, really. These songs are nice and tight, kinda like latter-day Laughing Hyenas. Maybe but not quite as addictive, but certainly as brutal. And when you work in noise, brutality is always a key.

    The songs themselves shift from ramblers to up-and-up shitkickers, and the Downside Special pulls all off with equal ease. People with a vision and the talent to pull it off.

    So don't call it retro-rock, or stuck in the 70s (or, more accurately, 60s). The Downside Special is right on time, blurring the distinctions between the blues, rock and noise. My advice is to read between the lines.


    Downstroke
    Distorted Sunshine
    (Non-Interference/Shrapnel)
    reviewed in issue #137, 6/23/97

    Swedish grunge. I know, I can hear the Entombed jokes already, but this is the real thing. Downstroke plays a stripped down version of the Alice in Chains thing, which is about the most interesting thing on the disc.

    In other words, grunge without massive levels of distortion. Yeah, I know, this tends to point out the dull song construction, but it's still unusual. I like that.

    And when the guys work themselves into a proper groove, well, the songs are at least decent. This doesn't happen much (Downstroke is pretty much a traditional grunge band, after all), but enough to keep me from screaming.

    The novelty of clean guitar lines wore off pretty quickly. I'd prefer to hear some good music. Downstroke is far too generic to qualify there. Solid playing and intriguing production aside, there isn't much to hear here.


    Downtide
    K-1 Headache
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #63, 9/30/94

    Heavy stuff that meanders through grunge and hardcore territory at times. The production left everything pretty muffled. I thought at first it might have been intentional, but on reflection I don't think so.

    The songs are pretty solid and must sound better live. I wish I could slice through the fog, because I really like what these guys are doing.

    Oh well, the base is there for something interesting. Quite a fine effort.


    Drag the River
    You Can't Live This Way
    (Suburban Home)
    reviewed in issue #294, March 2008

    Just to be clear--we're not talking about the Michelle Malone joint, though the music is somewhat similar. This particular DTR is the brainchild of Jon Snodgrass (Armchair Martian) and Chad Price (ALL). It's kinda funny to me that the two most recent ALL singers have new albums out on Suburban home (both are reviewed in this issue; Scott Reynolds comes up later), but what's more instructive is how good the stuff is.

    Highly reminiscent of Armchair Martian, which means highly reminiscent of early Uncle Tupelo, which means we are, in fact, talking about highly good shit. These songs set moods, tell stories and make me think of campfires that are burning down. The feeling is more desultory than valedictory, embers that are fighting to hang on for one more breath of flame.

    The sound is sharp, probably a little too sharp for some of these songs. That goes straight to the Armchair Martian history, I suppose, but there is some charm to rootsy songs with sharp elbows. These puppies never let you out of their grip.

    Every song is at least very good, and there are a few great ones here. The album has put me so much at ease that I'm unable to fully discern which is which, but I think that's a good thing. Next summer is now fully-planned: bourbon on ice, big-ass book and this disc rolling on and on. I can already taste the distilled fermented corn.


    DragKing
    Kill Yr Boss
    (Imp)
    reviewed in issue #81, 7/31/95

    Truly momentous noise. DragKing sounds much like Iceburn crossed with Mama Tick. If these references are too esoteric, then try this: the Jesus Lizard trying its hand at jazz. I like my first attempt better, but the second works alright.

    Samples are a driving force, and the music pretty much caterwauls behind that impetus. Is there a rhyme or reason? Somewhere, I guess, but I don't feel like finding it at the moment. I prefer bathing in the chaos.

    Music at its most uncommercial. DragKing does everything wrong in terms of mass acceptance. While that does not always guarantee the converse (acceptance by me), it sure helps. And despite this veneer of guys wailing away at instruments with no concept of reality, I can hear something behind the noise. Sure, it's a mess, but DragKing has that intangible, a sense of art.

    Kill Yr Boss is mean, perverted, loud, distorted, backstabbing and just plain weird. And yes, I love it.


    Indie Authenticity Crisis
    (Hard Boiled)
    reviewed in issue #180, 4/12/99

    More from one of my favorite no-wave bands. These guys are in the right town (Chicago) and even in the right part of town for this sound (I learned more than a bit about the musical geography of the city on a trip last summer). Just like the first disc I heard, this puppy is chock full of highly orchestrated noise and fairly lengthy samples.

    The music isn't too far removed from the mellower moments of Flying Luttenbachers, which is to say that it's pretty weird and rather intriguing. Lots of instruments (horns, piano and other more "orchestral" implements) fill out the basic sound.

    But the real genius is in connecting the found sound to the music, and the different pieces together. DragKing manages to craft a whole sound from wildly disparate parts, and I'm simply amazed that it holds together at all, much less so well.

    On the fringe? Definitely. But DragKing has a lot to say, and it's not too painful to receive the message. In fact, if you're not careful, you might find this managed chaos addictive.


    Dragonfly
    The Edge of the World 2xCD
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #243, July 2003

    You know how the liner notes in CD cases are called "booklets"? Dragonfly does that one better. The CD case is a book in itself, complete with a plethora of photos and artwork in addition to the usual liner materials.

    The kind of care and dedication that such a presentation requires also went into the music. Dragonfly plays rock music. Somewhat dramatic and "important sounding," if you get my drift, but always with a deft touch. There's nothing ponderous or overdone here.

    Rather, most of the songs are somewhat understated. I like that. Miki Singh is quite an emotive singer, but he doesn't allow himself to fall into trick of excessive histrionics. He just sings with feeling. That applies to the rest of the band as well. There are a million chances here to fall off the cliff, but Dragonfly resists.

    This is the sort of music that used to thrill millions. You know, the same kinda stuff that used to sell boatloads of U2 and Pearl Jam albums (very general references, to be sure). With any luck, millions will find their way to Dragonfly.


    The Dragons
    RockNRoll Kamikaze
    (Junk)
    reviewed in issue #223, 10/15/01

    Big monster fans of Motorhead, lemme tell ya. By way of the Dolls (just ignore my space-time continuum problems). They've got the attitude and the riffage. They need some help in the sound and construction areas.

    These songs simply don't sound mean enough. That's a production problem, pure and simple. The guitars need to be rougher, more raw. The overall mix needs to be cranked up a notch. These songs oughta leap out of the speakers.

    As for the writing, well, many of the pieces here are just too long. If yer gonna play this kinda stuff, it's gotta be wham-bam-thank you-ma'am. Hit it and split it.

    Don't make this stuff more complicated than it already is. Bash and roll. The Dragons aren't too far off from the ideal, but this would be so much better if they put in just a little more work and blow off some of the chaff.


    Sin Salvation
    (Gearhead)
    reviewed in issue #243, July 2003

    I reviewed the last Dragons record, and while I was somewhat impressed by the band, the production on that disc was way overdone. I thought these boys needed to strip down and let the energy flow freely.

    That's exactly what happens here. Like those great, lo-fi Motorhead albums of the early 1980s, every instrument has a little space and there's just enough distortion to give an edge. Everything else is pure attitude and aggression.

    Which these boys have in droves. Each song starts at 100 and then accelerates. The writing is sharp and the lyrics are good--sometimes even inspiring. But what works the best is the sharp-yet-loose production sound. It suits these boys perfectly.

    It's amazing how much the producer has to do with a successful album. The Dragons are proof of that. This album is so much better than the last that it might as well have been recorded by a different band. I haven't heard a pedal-to-the-metal rock album this great in some time.


    Arizona Dranes
    He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes book/CD
    (Tomkins Square)
    reviewed in issue #340, September 2012

    Back in 1926, Arizona Dranes went to Okeh Records and recorded 16 tracks. She was blind, she sang songs from the Church of God in Christ tradition (a Pentecostal sect), and she played one hell of a piano. She recorded 16 tracks between 1926 and 1928, and that was it as far as studio work went. She toured churches for the next 20 years, but she never recorded again.

    Any church that had a piano player like Dranes would be filled to overflowing, I'd think. She seems to play as if possessed by the Holy Ghost. And who knows? Maybe she was.

    When a gospel singer is feeling it, the results can be amazing. Dranes was not only a stunning piano player but a wonderfully expressive singer as well. She's occasionally joined by some backup singers, and the resulting choir can be riotously joyous.

    Not much has been known about Dranes past the information in the bio in the first paragraph. But Michael Corcoran has written a book that sheds some light on her life, and for good measure he had included all of her recordings. Far too few, to be sure, but utterly astounding.


    Linda Draper
    One Two Three Four
    (Planting Seeds)
    reviewed in issue #265, June 2005

    There's a sticker on the jewel box that proclaims that this CD was produced by Kramer. Likewise, the press notes hype that point. Most of the time, whenever a label has to use a producer to promote an album, it means the album doesn't have the legs to support itself. That's why I listen to the albums, I guess.

    What's really sorta odd is that Linda Draper plays a fairly spartan version of folk music, which sorta negates the importance of a producer. This stripped-down approach means the songs have to survive on their own, without a whole lot of studio help. Draper's lyrics are straightforward, but she manages to throw in a few curves, often undercutting the initial premise of a song.

    And, well, Kramer did have work to do after all. He throws in occasional accompaniment (flute, guitar, etc.), but always keeps Draper's voice and acoustic guitar in the forefront. He provides atmosphere without taking all the air out of the sound.

    I generally don't like this sort of album. But good is good, and great is even better. Draper may sing softly, but her ideas come across loud and clear.


    Keepsake
    (Planting Seeds)
    reviewed in issue #284, April 2007

    I really liked the last Linda Draper album I heard. She's got a light touch with her songs, but she always finds the steel when she needs it. Exceptionally accomplished modern folk. Same thing here. Which, I suppose, is a bit of a disappointment. I wanted to hear more, rather than more of the same. I think I would have liked this better if I hadn't heard her before. Still, it is awfully good.


    Bridge and Tunnel
    (Planting Seeds)
    reviewed in issue #308, June 2009

    The latest from this singer-songwriter might be her best yet. For the unfamiliar, Draper has a sure sense of melody, but what I like best is her solid rhythmic grounding. Often this comes out in her acoustic guitar, but she never forces a lyric into unwilling music. Another exceptional effort.


    The Drawing Room
    In Purgatory
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    Not kiwipop, if that's what you were expecting. The Drawing Room is one of those fine constructed sound bands, utilizing "real" noise, samples, instruments and vocals (though not many lyrics) to create a decidedly mechanized world.

    Not so much conceptual as eternally driving, pushing forward with every distorted beat. The harsh, yet lush, sounds assault more than envelop, but they overwhelm just the same.

    Quite a stark, unique sound. The Drawing Room paints no pretty pictures, but the sonic images are stunning nonetheless. Not for the faint of heart.

    Very much in a Cold Meat Industry style, though not over-the-top in any sense. Cold and mean, though in a most inviting way. At least, my ears wish to return.


    Drawn from Bees
    Cautionary Tales for the Lionhearted EP
    (Bonefinger)
    reviewed in issue #324, February 2011

    Ephochal, yet seemingly spartan production laid over gripping, yet understated, anthems. If those dichotomies make sense to you, then Drawn from Bees are your band.

    The vocals are lush with plenty of layered harmonies. The construction of the songs is simple, and each builds up to an almost unimaginable climax. And though I knew what would be happening each time, I was always surprised.

    So if the early 80s Cure met up with the late 90s Flaming Lips...yeah, something like that. Five songs are hardly enough. This habit will be hard to break.


    Dread Motif
    Love Songs from the Abyss EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #143, 9/15/97

    Strange, alternate reality song titles ("She Draws Pictures of the Devil in Me", "All the Dogs Learn to Read", etc.), song construction which allows each instrument to wander out on its own, and a cool gothic hardcore feel to everything.

    I've never heard anything like it. The lyrics are biting, though sometimes almost on the silly side. The guitar and bass often do not have anything to do with each other, and the drummer provides an odd rolling feel to all the songs, at least until everything crashes in come kind of weird sonic implosion. And this is every song, mind you.

    Despite the chaos and general messiness, it works. Yeah, kookiness has its place, and since nothing involved with Dread Motif seems connected to any sort of regular conception of reality, all that weirdness contributes to something cool.

    Certainly a tough sell for the mainstream, but Dread Motif is firmly ensconced in its own beautiful, crazy world. A wonderfully complicated and textured band. For pure brillance, check out the last minute of "All the Dogs Learn to Read". Bliss.


    Dreadful Shadows
    The Cycle
    (Oblivion/SPV)
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    Highly-processed Gothic pop. The production has left the sound somewhat sterile, and the writing doesn't really help out.

    It's one thing to want to be Sisters of Mercy. It's another to utterly copy the sound. But to then strip that sound of whatever soul it had, leaving just the crinkly plastic wrapping, well, that doesn't make any sense to me.

    Because that's what is going on here. There isn't much of an original thought in any of the writing or playing, and the production is just, well, dreadful. Goth shouldn't be tinny, and that's what this is. I understand a sparse sound, but that's not how these songs are written.

    Some things just don't work for me. At its best, Dreadful Shadows is stealing. The worst? Well, you don't want to know.


    Dream City Film Club
    In the Cold Light of Morning
    (Beggars Banquet)
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    After the first song, which was a pretty cool minimalist goth thing, Dream City Film Club morphs quickly and easily into a more typical Britpop outift. The guitars have that ragged American feel, but the eclecticism and generally sneering attitude is pure U.K.

    The band does shift gears often, with results that are reminiscent of the "quality" Love and Rockets days. Rockers interspersed with songs which seem almost still by comparison. Dream City Film Club ups the ante with plenty of sounds in between as well.

    But even filling out the spectrum the way it is here, I really don't think this all quite comes together. Close, but a little too close to the edge to retain a consistent center. I don't hear a coherent band sound.

    Which isn't a scathing indictment. Dream City Film Club does a good job aping a variety of sounds. These songs are, at worst, merely average. There are some gems. I'm just not sure about the album as a whole.


    Dream Into Dust
    No Man's Land EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #148, 11/24/97

    My postal misadventures continue. It seems someone dropped a coke on this package, as the thing was covered in amber goo. While the envelope and note were pretty much torched, the disc itself was nicely wrapped and wasn't affected. Good show. As is the music, which strikes me as a gothic version of Dead World. Pile-driving beats, sonic sculptures for backing music and moderately ethereal vocals. A combination which works rather well.

    All this is best realized in "Dissolution", which is 12 minutes of brilliant soundscape. A song, as such, never quite breaks out, but that's okay by me. Dream Into Dust likes to take chances, and I'll go out on a limb as well.

    Brilliantly conceived and realized. This music is the result of a fertile imagination and tons of skill in the studio. Those aren't always found in combination, and so I'm thrilled to hear it here. Sublime.


    A Prison for Oneself 7"
    (Chthonic Streams)
    reviewed in issue #154, 3/9/98

    This 7" is part of a set with a cassette. This is a very limited release (500 copies), and so us press geeks only got the extras from the 7" run. Which is more than enough to make me understand how cool all this is.

    The songs are based on the music of the TV series "The Prisoner". Of course, rendered here in an even more spooky, gothic form. Plenty of great soundscape effects, but the real treat is the creepy and foreboding feel of the music itself.

    I haven't heard a 7" with this sort of sound (my copy may be an overrun, but it sounds pristine) in ages, if ever. The production is great, and even more important, the quality of the pressing is extremely high. Great care was taken on this puppy.

    I can only imagine how cool the whole set would be. This takes me into another world.


    The World We Have Lost
    (Elfenblut)
    reviewed in issue #182, 5/17/99

    Some of my favorite sound merchants send me a full-length disc! After an EP and a 7", I get to hear some seriously long-winded musings from these folks. For those unfamiliar, Dream Into Dust creates some stunning soundscapes, and even there's singing, the sound is very much into the dark wave. You know, the real goth stuff.

    Whatever it's called these days (and that seems to be changing daily since the mess at Littleton), Dream Into Dust does it as well as anyone. The band can set a mood with either a more traditional song or full-on orchestral soundscape. A most impressive feat.

    What these folks do oh-so-well is assimilate a large amount of material into tightly packaged pieces. Plenty of samples and instrumentations blended into a dark whole. With all that's going on, it's amazing that nothing sounds out of place. And nothing does.

    I'm most impressed. Again. I know, I know, some of the best bands around get no attention. Dream Into Dust certainly deserves to be heard. By as many people as possible.


    The Lathe of Heaven
    (Chthonic Streams)
    reviewed in issue #242, June 2003

    The gothic industrial edge of pop is a scarcely-populated place. Few bands really want to get down and dirty and truly explore the horrors of everyday existence. Dream into Dust is more than happy to take up the slack.

    These songs are assembled in the studio, but there's always a solid core of "real" music around which some really cool structures have been erected. Plenty of acoustic guitar, which makes for a nice counterpoint to the sampled percussion.

    When I say industrial, I mean it. These songs sound like they're being played inside of a factory. Rather than being distracting, the extra pops, whacks and whistles add a pleasant grain to the sound, dirtying everything up just right.

    These folks have been wandering around these woods for quite a while, and this is their finest effort yet. Nothing sounds remotely contrived or forced; this is music that exists in precisely the right surroundings. Rarely have I heard an album that falls into place as well as this one.


    Dreamfield
    Take Me With You CD5
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #196, 3/6/00

    Start with the dual-female vocals and gothic feel of Switchblade Symphony and then ship that across the ocean to London to pick up a little electronic/hip-hop action. The arrangements are somewhat lackadaisical, but they do fall together in the end.

    In fact, that loose feel is one characteristic that separates Dreamfield from the pack. This is hardly overblown; the space between the sounds is most illuminating.

    Restrain can be a wonderful thing. Dreamfield uses it to great effect here. A full-length would be most welcome.


    The Dreamside
    Nuda Veritas EP
    (Deathwish-Nuclear Blast America)
    reviewed in issue #127, 1/27/97

    Three tracks of pretty gothic pop. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

    The only really annoying thing is the terribly derivative drum machine providing the beats. Better practitioners of electronic percussion can keep the sound from getting as tinny as it is here. That sound really drags down the whole thing.

    Other than that, the songs are fairly good. The usual throaty, yet ethereal, female vocals, washed over by wave upon wave of keyboard mess. A standard formula, and the Dreamside isn't about to deviate from something so successful.

    The overall effect, though, is merely middling. If the Dreamside really wants to move out into the forefront, the folks are going to have to take a few chances. Playing it safe works only if you're Hootie and the Blowfish. And even then it's not advisable.


    The Drift
    Noumena
    (Temporary Residence)
    reviewed in issue #268, September 2005

    Some wide-ranging, vaguely abstract bands are almost impossible to write about. "They sound weird, but they sound cool," is what I end up writing. The Drift is not nearly so difficult.

    In part because these boys simply refuse to play the same song (and sometimes, it seems, the same sound) twice, and in part because there's just so much here to mine. These are compositions, not stuff that is (or resembles) improvisations. There is a solid structure behind even the most loopy piece, and the Drift has obviously given these songs a solid workout.

    And yes, I suppose this does lie in the world of Tortoise and the like, but to be honest, I don't hear a lot of that. There is a member of Tarantel (Danny Grody), but again, these songs are tight compositions. Some may sound languid, but they're never lost.

    Damn. I guess I didn't get much past "they sound weird, but they sound cool." Except that the Drift is hardly weird and exceptionally cool. Instrumental rock can take all sorts of forms, and the Drift seems to have chiseled its own. For all the disparate ideas and sounds, each song here sounds like it was played by the Drift. And that may be the most impressive thing (of so many) about this album.


    Memory Drawings
    (Temporary Residence)
    reviewed in issue #294, March 2008

    I've liked everything I've heard from the Drift. No one has captured the feeling of high lonesome (or lone highsome) like this since Dirty Three. This album is at once more coherent and less cohesive than earlier albums. Which is not a bad way to go.

    What sets the Drift apart is the use of horns (specifically flugelhorn and trumpet) that make these eclectic ramblers turn into something spectacular. There's something about brass and rock that works. Especially when the playing is decidedly on the jazz side of things.

    As for what I said earlier, the songs on this album don't fit together quite as well as earlier efforts. But within each song, there is more structure and a bit more of an attempt to explain what is going on. In other words, these songs are more Yeats than cummings.

    You know, I think I blew that reference, but whatever. Five or ten seconds of the Drift ought to convince anyone who cares about music. There's something going on here, just as there has been for a while. This latest missal is right on target.


    Drip Tank
    Sprawl
    (Headhunter-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #64, 10/15/94

    San Diego through-and-through. Produced by Mark Trombino (of Drive Like Jehu), Sprawl finds Drip Tank meandering again through the desolate world of post-punk pop music.

    The most amazing thing about all of the S.D. punk and pseudo-punk bands is that none of them sound alike (unless, of course, they're side projects). Drip Tank take a power approach to the pop thing, making sure the guitars squeal and the vocals soar.

    And the lyrical subjects. All I can say is "wackiness counts here!" Not all of this is pleasant wacky, either. Some of it is downright James Dobson (Dr. Toughlove himself) dangerous wacky. Should these people be executed or merely incarcerated? Well, then along comes a seriously silly song, and you forget about the other stuff.

    Drip Tank grows on you, sorta like kudzu (and I've seen a lot of that lately). If you don't keep it under control, it could choke you. But would you mind?


    Dripping Goss
    Blowtorch Technique
    (Another Planet-Profile)
    reviewed in issue #73, 3/31/95

    Generally starting with a grunge base, Dripping Goss then adds whatever seems necessary to make a cool song.

    The bass has its funky moments, but once the rest of the band kicks in, that's pretty much forgotten. Brian Goss's vocals are distorted at various levels; sometimes you understand, sometimes not.

    There are lots of interesting things going on at the sidelines here, but I do wish Dripping Goss varied its formula just a little. It is hard to classify the band, but a lot of the songs do share similar constructions.

    They've found their sound. Now they merely need to expand. Not nearly as difficult an act as the first. And even without such diversity, Dripping Goss is pretty damned cool.


    Ryan Driver
    Who's Breathing
    (Fire Records)
    reviewed in issue #327, May 2011

    A Toronto native who plays in almost more bands than is imaginable, Ryan Driver's "solo" efforts are almost pedestrian compared to his other pursuits.

    But listen closer. Driver couples Paul Simon's talk-sing delivery with stellar guitar work and world beat riffage. Most often, the effect is to leave these songs understated and sparse. That's a very good place for them to be.

    Driver's writing needs little embellishment. I'm sure a producer might be tempted to dress up these small gems, but that would be a grave error. This album sounds like it is in Driver's own voice, which happens far too little.

    Take the time, and this one will win you over. Let its peace soak into you, and let its optimism heal your soul.


    Driver of the Year
    Driver of the Year Will Destroy You
    (Future Appletree)
    reviewed in issue #286, June 2007

    Eight tracks here...I'll call it a short album. Feels like an album, like a complete thought. But maybe I'm thinking too much and not enjoying the tremendous visceral appeal of this album.

    Operating in hazy sneer throughout most of the album, these boys snarl their way to some vaguely-defined (but acutely-felt) pleasure center of my brain. There's plenty of noise, but what really works here is the sly bits of rhythm that kick each song down the road. Not exactly slinky, but really, really dirty.

    And plenty of attitude to back that up. This is some solid rock and roll, old school style. Well, early 90s rock and roll, anyway. That sort of post-modern, distortion-laden hipster groove kinda school, anyway. If that makes sense to you.

    So, yes, Girls Against Boys, Love and Rockets (80s, I know...sue me), that kinda thing. Updated for the oughts, of course, but still that sort of grind. And it's a lovely grind at that. Slides down oh so easy.


    Pete Droge & the Sinners
    Find a Door
    (American)
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #6, 7/1/96

    Pete Droge may have gotten tongues a wagging and foots a-stomping with his acclaimed 1994 debut Necktie Second, but he's showing his roots on his sophomore effort.

    Roots rock, that is.

    His penchant for Bob Dylan was obvious on his debut, and he certainly didn't find any resistance in that direction when he opened several legs of Tom Petty's tour a couple years back. Find a Door finds Droge incorporating some Petty influences (especially that whiny slide guitar and echoed harmonies Jeff Lynne used to create the "Wilbury sound") into his melancholic rock sound.

    This isn't a bad second effort. If you were a fan of the first album, then you'll probably dig this one, too. There is a heavier on roots rock stock in trade: slide guitar, a bit of the ol' country twang and lead guitar licks that take forever to say a word. All that aside, though, Droge hasn't changed his tune much. --Todd Foltz


    Dronen
    284 Days EP
    (self-released)
    Doghouse Swine
    Fearless EP
    (Manta Ray)
    reviewed 4/21/15

    Despite the bizarre ruling in the Robin Thicke/Pharrell/Marvin Gaye hangers-on case, music has always been about building upon the past. Led Zeppelin's first album of all-original material was its fifth. Run-DMC's version of "Walk This Way" still sounds great, not least because Aerosmith's original was already a rap song. And so on.

    There's plenty of music out there that is simply an echo of stuff we've heard before. Maybe a tweak here and there, but stuff that sticks to well-established territory. That's just fine.

    Doghouse Swine is three Jersey boys who play pretty loud, pretty fast and occasionally tuneful. This sounds like an easy task. It's not.

    Doghouse Swine does make it easy for itself, though, by stripping down every song to just the basics: solid riffage, tight rhythms and a short, sweet guitar solo. Hooks? Not really. But strangely hummable choruses nonetheless.

    Definitely on the "hard" side of rock, these boys are still quite faithful to the ol' Bo Diddley/Chuck Berry school. Find one piece that works, build your song and make sure everything relates to that kernel of greatness. And throw in just enough punkish sloppiness to give the songs a lived-in, offhanded feel.

    I could go on and on, but then I'd be repeating myself. And one of the great joys of this set is that Doghouse Swine has ripped the reverse out of gearbox. Like Satchel said, don't look back; something might be gaining on you. Though I think these boys have enough under the hood to outrun just about anyone.

    Dronen is also a trio, but one hailing from the other coast. And rather than sticking to basic rock, these boys kick out proto-punk that takes itself seriously. Dronen throws in some proggy notions, a whiff of the goth and plenty of noise, but in the end these are still basic three-chord rockers.

    In the hands of mortals, those tendencies generally result in a bloated mess. But Dronen keeps plenty of space in its sound, which both fills out the edges and gives the songs plenty of room to move. It's the ol' mid-90s "alternative" thing, to be sure, but these boys do it right.

    The songs themselves tend toward the longish side, which allows for some seriously orchestral anthemic finishes. It's no secret that Dronen is trying to make "important" music; at least, that's how these songs are constructed. That slow build to a monster finish can get old, but it's fine on an EP. I do hope the boys vary things up a bit on an album.

    Plenty of potential. I have no idea if Dronen will continue to evolve in an interesting way, but this is a fine set.

    Did Dronen or Doghouse Swine surprise me in any way? Not really. But they both have mastered their sounds. Perhaps that won't stand up so well on longer efforts, but these EPs are just dandy.


    Drop Acid
    46th and Teeth EP
    (Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #16, 6/30/92

    If you missed their lp earlier this year (or late last), then go find it and jam for a while. That way, when you get this, you will be prepared. This is Kevin Marvelli (Seconds) new band, up from the ashes of 7 Seconds.

    Sure, it's driving, punk-influenced pop-rock. But what's wrong with that. It's good, and that's all you should be concerned with.

    Like a dumbshit I lost all of the info with the cassette, so I can't tell you when it's supposed to come out or anything like that. But hope to see it in your mail, because it will make you smile. Worked for me.


    Drop Hammer
    Mind and Body
    (Red Decibel)
    reviewed in #5, 1/15/92

    The most commercially appealing of the RdB bands, Drop Hammer have put out the best Metallica album I've heard in some time. Oh, not that they're as copy-cat as, say, Cyclone Temple, but at times the resemblance is amazing.

    Also amazing is some of the songwriting. "The Sign" is the best classic hard rock tune (i.e. Maiden, Priest, etc.) I've heard in years. This deserves a big budget viddie and lots of airplay. God-damn!

    So, to clarify: Drop Hammer. Doesn't always sound sorta like Metallica. Writes some damn fine songs. I will play this soon.


    Dropkick Murphys
    The Singles Collection
    (Hellcat-Epitaph)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    The contents of six singles and 11 live tracks tacked on. The results are about what you might expect from a Boston band that combines Clash-style punk with Beantown hardcore and the occasional Irish brogue.

    In other words, some of the singles sound better than others (in terms of production value), and the live stuff is rather sloppy. Still, if the band has charmed in the past, then this set is certainly welcome.

    Some of the singles tracks repeat in the live section, but then, this is intended as some sort of completist volume, so I suppose that's alright. Like I noted before, the live stuff is pretty rough, but that's just punk rawk.

    Probably more of interest to the devoted fan than someone starting out, this collection is nonetheless more than worth the effort. Quite a few small gems hiding out here.


    Dropsonic
    The Low Life
    (Ascetic)
    reviewed in issue #296, May 2008

    It took me a while to comprehend why this disc stuck to my brain like a whiny three-year-old. And then I listened to a couple of old Kepone albums and it hit me: Rhythmic bliss.

    Trios are kinda uniquely qualified to create seriously rhythmic music. The bass and drums take on more melodic responsibilities (as it were), and one of the ways to do that is to blister the rhythms to an almost impossible level.

    Such is the greatness of Dropsonic. The guitars stick to the rhythmic path as well, and that makes these songs pop out with that much more fervor. Strident and striking, to be sure.

    Dazzling Killmen also come to mind, though Dropsonic is bit less bombastic and a bit more sly. I hadn't heard stuff like this in ages, and now I crave it like no other. Dropsonic made me lapse. Bastards.


    Dropzone
    Pint Size Punks
    (Skate-Key)
    reviewed in issue #189, 10/11/99

    The beauty of punk music is that kids can literally play it. That, by the way, can also be considered a drawback. I'm sure exactly how old the guys in Dropzone are, but they're definitely pre-Hanson. And while the stuff is competently played (almost to the point of commercial rock, really), the lyrics just don't have much punch.

    Punk has always been a great music form for expressing ideas, particularly those outside the mainstream. Well, these kids apparently haven't lived terribly rough lives, and they seem content to sing about girls and playing music and girls and cool friends.

    Alright, alright, so that's what Green Day does, too. The difference is that Green Day specializes in irony. This stuff is delivered straight up. There's no where to go but back in line.

    Not horrible, just kinda dull. Happy punk music without any bit is just three chords on a cake.


    Drown
    Product of a Two Faced World
    (Slipdisc/Mercury)
    reviewed in issue #167, 9/14/98

    Kinda like the Clay People, though more into the metalcore and more restrained. The musical carnage goes on somewhat behind the veil. It's audible, but not really cranked up.

    And while it's a bit disconcerting at first, I really hooked into the style. I like the "throttle back" maneuver loads. Drown's songwriting style works very well with the sound, utilizing a basic, sparse beat structure and lean riffage. Plenty of rap and electronic influences, but basically this is metalcore dressed up in fancy clothes.

    And that's just fine with me. Instead of emphasizing silly hair dance moments, Drown chooses to hit on things that really matter. Like ideas. Addictive and far too tasty to ignore. If you want to figure out for yourself how Drown does what it does, check out the cover of "Kerosene". It's not nearly as over the top as the original (one of the faves from my college days), but it is impressive nonetheless.

    Well, consider me a fan. It's so easy to fuck this sound up, I'm always amazed when a band is able to sling it out so well. And really, Drown has everything down pat. Well thought out, with superior execution. Product of a Two Faced World is a truly fine accomplishment.


    Drowningman
    Howtheylight EP
    (Revelation)
    reviewed in issue #194, 1/24/00

    Vermont's finest? Well, okay then. Drowningman takes that old Glazed Baby extreme sound and gives it one hell of a kick. First, these songs stay in motion at all times. Second, there's some serious tonal complexity to the shit. It's not quite enough to scream out "This fuckin' rocks!" There's plenty of side roads to contemplate as well

    Though, of course, it does. Drowningman is a five-piece, and all five members contribute to the maelstromic attack. The songs whirl about some imagines center, sometimes crashing through and sometimes merely causing extreme dizziness.

    You know, the four songs here are worth most bands' ten. To say I'm excited about this doesn't even begin to tell the story. This is music of astonishing grace and power. A blistering assault on more senses than I can identify.


    Rock and Roll Killing Machine
    (Revelation(
    reviewed in issue #203, 8/7/00

    I still think these guys sound like a great Victory band. But with a Fudge Tunnel perspective. I mean, who else would write songs titled "Last Week's Minutes from the Meeting of the Secret Society of Your Friends Who Actually Hate You" and "If God Loves a Winner, He's Going to Want to Fuck Me in a Minute"?

    Alright, darkly pithy comments aside, Drowningman excels in creating a maelstromic hardcore sound. Guitars flying in circles, bass and drums pounding away furiously. and awesome display of precision and power.

    I've been waiting for a full-length from these boys since I got that EP a while back. This in no way disappoints. Indeed, my sense of wonder increases. I wasn't sure they could keep the pressure on for a full album.

    Oh, but they do. It's been a long time since a band took hardcore by the balls and squeezed until bursting. Drowningman just might be the most exciting band going right now. There aren't enough superlatives.


    Drug Money
    Mtn Cty Jnk
    (Hybrid)
    reviewed in issue #248, December 2003

    The slick production on this album screams "big time!" The songs themselves just might get these boys a good ways up the mountain.

    Following the same processed power-pop approach as Fountains of Wayne, Drug Money adds its own touches to the sound. There's a little bluesy guitar solo here and some nicely crusty noise there. The songs themselves are built around great hooks, and the boys aren't afraid to exploit that sweet sugar for all its worth.

    The funny thing about this sort of music is that it simply works or it doesn't. There's very little middle ground. It's possible to quibble about some of the arrangements (though I wouldn't), but either the hooks set or they don't. Drug Money yanks hard on the line and should snag listeners by the boatload.

    While there's plenty of interesting stuff noodling around the core, this disc is nonetheless a simple pleasure. Fuzzy, yet sharp, pop is hard to resist, especially when it's done so well.


    Drum Machine Technicians
    Terminal Illness
    (Stray-Dogday)
    reviewed in issue #205, 9/18/00

    The Drum Machine Technicians are DJ Cue and Eddie Def, but they will work together only on the fifth disc in this series. This is the first. Where Eddie Def takes on the DMT mantle and shows what he can do.

    Eddie Def deals in dirty beats. He does everything possible to give his percussion unique sounds. There are a million ways to throw a beat, and a lot of them are present on this disc.

    Anything past drum and bass work? Yeah. Generally there's some sort of song structure lying around each piece, whether it's merely soundscape or something a bit more formalized.

    Lots of toys for club DJs, but this is intriguing listening on its own. Eddie Def has a way with the beats. He remakes them in his own images and gives them new life.


    C4
    (Stray-Dogday)
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    DJ Cue takes on the DMT mantle on this, the second of five planned Drum Machine Technicians discs. The title, of course, is supposed to denote the explosive nature of Cue's beat work.

    But these beats are more mood setters than floor burners. This disc sounds like it's been put together by a DJ who wants to take chances. The flow isn't there, and not all of the ideas work, but for sheer breadth of beat work, it's hard to do better than a disc like this.

    Unfortunately, there's very little experimentation within each track. So while this is a great set for the practicing DJ, it's probably of less interest to the average beat junkie.

    Nothing wrong with that, mind you. Just want to warn folks, you know. DJ Cue is a technician of the highest order. The beats here warrant attention.


    Little Dog Music por la Chupacabra
    (Stray-Dogday)
    reviewed in issue #207, 10/30/00

    Eddie Def back in the house on this, the third of five planned Drum Machine Technicians outings. As with the first two discs, the beat work here is nothing less than spectacular.

    But this one is more like DJ Cue's C4 album in that it focuses more on simple beats than on coherent songs. Great for the DJs and beat freaks, less so for the average fan.

    Even so, the scope and inventiveness is breathtaking. There's no getting around the fertile creativity that abounds on this album. This puppy pulsates with abundant life.

    Which makes it hard for me to say anything against it. Maybe these pieces aren't quite finished. I don't think they're supposed to be anything other than extended beat explorations. And on that level, this disc is superb.


    Drumhead
    Drumhead
    (Perishable)
    reviewed in issue #172, 11/23/98

    Two percussionists, a bass player and some electronic goodies. That there's a recipe which sounds well-suited to my tastes. Better be some serious rhythmic exploration, my friends.

    Oh, and the joy rang out over the valley like a bitch in heat! Drumhead wanders into so many potentially untenable situations and escapes with such impressive ease. Yeah, this is experimental. Well out on the limb. Not only rhythmically, but also in terms of the overall sound.

    At times the stuff is sharp and well-defined. Sometimes it's clouded under a few layers of mush. And, often enough, the sound lies somewhere in between. Always, always exactly what the music needed.

    You know, this would have fit in well with the Wordsound crew. And it was recorded in Brooklyn (though Perishable is a Chicago concern). Whatever the geography involved, the music is the key. Astonishing and inventive. Can't be much more effusive than that.


    Drums and Tuba
    Flatheads and Spoonies
    (My Pal God)
    reviewed in issue #189, 10/11/99

    The band's name isn't quite right. There's a guitar going on as well. Otherwise, well...

    One key to endeavors such as this is the interplay between the different instruments. Obviously, the tuba works as a decent sub for the bass, but the sound isn't quite the same. That doesn't really matter, though, as the trio works together tirelessly to find its own sound.

    And what a sound it is. A pulsating, rhythmically complex set of songs, each immaculately crafted and honed. Jazz? Well, I'd say that's where these boys were trained, though this music doesn't really fit in anywhere.

    That's the beauty of it. There isn't another band out there that sounds anything like this. And for this to resonate so fully as it does is simply astonishing. All hail these adventurers who did find what they were searching for. Drums and Tuba creates music of the highest order.


    Box Fetish
    (My Pal God)
    reviewed in issue #204, 8/28/00

    Just in case you didn't catch them the first time, My Pal God is re-issuing the first two Drums and Tuba albums. With some extra tracks thrown in, just for the hell of it.

    Those unfamiliar with the band should know that there is a guitar in addition to the drums and tuba. Sometimes the tube is exchanged for a trumpet. Something the drums are traded in for sax or other things. Still, always three sounds at once. The three instruments jam in all sorts of ways, all the way from a vague Dixieland style to something that can only be called Hendrixian.

    These songs are much more loosely constructed than last year's Flatheads and Spoonies. A lot more of a jam feel than real songwriting. Basically, a mood is set and the guys go from there.

    No other band sounds anything like this. Not just a historical oddity, this disc stands out on its own as some real quality work. I think I prefer the tighter material the guys are putting out these days, but there are some astounding moments here.


    The Flying Ballerina
    (My Pal God)
    reviewed in issue #204, 8/28/00

    The second of this re-issue set. On this album, the transition from a more free-form jam sound to more controlled song structure is underway. The players are working harder to create innovate sounds within their newly-controlled lines.

    I may be overemphasizing this evolution thing. It's not like a cut-and-dried series of events. More shading, really. In any case, this disc is more of a traditional noise rock-jazz fusion disc than the first.

    And really, isn't that what all of these abstract noise rock types are doing? You know, June of 44, the Flying Luttenbachers, Don Caballero, whatever. It's not jazz and it's not rock. It's simply something else.

    Certainly that's true for Drums and Tuba. One of the most unique-sounding bands in the world. Period. The guys also just happen to be brilliant. A side benefit, if you will.


    Drunk
    Raised Toward
    (Jagjaguwar)
    reviewed in issue #175, 1/25/99

    From Bloomington, and that twisted midwestern anti-country sound pervades. Somewhere between Dirty Three, Palace and Hurl, I'd say. Plenty of influences from the Jim O'Rourke and David Grubbs school of meticulously crafted pop, too. Only the vocals are just as you might expect: Slightly raspy and more than a little atonal. But of course, they fit right in.

    Recorded with few mikes (I'm guessing here; there's a lot of room echo in the sound), the sound has a strangely claustrophobic, yet atmospheric sound. A wondrous achievement. Some might call it a cheap lo-fi ploy, but I just dig it.

    The songs are poetic in music and in word. Each piece unfolds at its own pace, deliberately treading each step. Plenty of room for contemplation and interpretation. Hauntingly gorgeous is another way to put it.

    Um, wow. Stunning and immediately astonishing. There's no way to avoid the shattering emotional impact of this disc. It will tear you, synapse from neuron.


    Tableside Manners
    (Jagjaguwar) reviewed in issue #191, 11/15/99

    There's something hypnotic about Drunk albums. Not sleep-inducing, but merely trance-enhancing. The muted pop sounds flit past the brain, alternately soothing and exciting in a not-quite regular pattern.

    And, see, this is contemplative stuff, music which requires attention and devotion. Yeah, it would be easy to passively play this in the background, but then you'd be missing the whole point. Like what the music is all about in the first place. You know, its reason for being.

    Oh, no, I'm not gonna let that cat out of the bag. You'll have to experience this for yourself. But I can say that the moody reckonings here have a way of winding their twisted hearts into the depths of your soul.

    Oh, yeah. That good, indeed. Drunk is out to psychically kick your ass. You gotta take it into your heart first. Once there, well, prepare for the onslaught. Truly astonishing.


    Drunken Boat
    Drunken Boat
    (First Warning)
    reviewed in issue #7, 2/14/92

    Definite hard core influences, but also a pop sensibility, with a touch of grunge bass dropping by now and again. This was released a bit ago, but it still sounds damn nice. At times this is also rather reminiscent of latter-day Senator Flux, which is good.

    The critics have been raving, and I think that's good. This kind of music has stumped many who try to label it, so I won't try (besides the opening). Very enjoyable might work. So would pretty damn fine. Or, geez, I can't wait 'till they get to my town, or....


    The Drunks
    Ruin It for Everyone EP
    (TKO)
    reviewed in issue #209, 12/11/00

    Songs about drinking and fighting and fighting and puking and, um, Elvira, mistress of the dark. I think she fits in pretty well. In any case, the Drunks sure do.

    One of those "no-brainers." Literally. The songs don't get past the "three chords--or two if you play loud and fast enough" theory. The lyrics are filled with attitude, but still surprisingly insipid.

    And yet... if you play loud and fast enough it's hard to notice the problems. All you hear is this buzzsaw attack. And that's not bad. The Drunks don't have any charm, but they do have a way of pleasing nonetheless.


    Drywater
    Drywater
    (Mason Ring)
    reviewed in issue #231, July 2002

    A long time ago grunge was a specific sound, best epitomized by the sludgy anthems of Skin Yard. Then Soundgarden and later Nirvana took that sound and infused both melody and metal guitars. Drywater takes that post-Skin Yard sound and strips out the metal. Leaving heavy, anthemic pop punctuated by ragged harmonies.

    Not terribly unlike where Alice in Chains or Screaming Trees ended up, I guess. Drywater has figured out that the trick to this stuff is the hook, and each song has a killer.

    This relatively modern take on grunge hits me better than you might figure. The slightly-moaning vocals actually help the songs move along better, and in any case the songwriting is quite good. No matter how you arrange these pieces, they'd probably come out pretty good.

    Try not to take this stuff too seriously. I couldn't. I just hung out for the kicks. Which are pretty damned fine, if you must know.


    Drzhivegas
    Get Down
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #288, August 2007

    Drzhivegas is a Van Halen for this generation. Well, it could be. I doubt these guys are going to break like that (almost no one does), but it seems possible to me. Just like Van Halen took all the catchy bits of 70s arena rock and dolled them up with a wildman singer and (truly) revolutionary use of the guitar, Drzhivegas drops stellar riffage (from almost every side of rock) on top of unreconstructed disco beats, bouncy bass lines and, yes, vocals courtesy of a blonde-mopped wildman. To be sure, the similarity is one of attitude and not sound.

    Drzhivegas seems to really have hit upon something here. These are serious boogie workouts augmented by loud and crunchy guitars and plenty of soul. Many have tried to fuse all these crowd-pleasing sorts of music--the best, to my ear, was Bootsauce's 1990 effort, The Brown Album--but by the end of those albums there was a palpable feeling of exhaustion. It's hard work making ultra-catchy tuneage.

    This album sounds utterly effortless. It is a party record, pure and simple, though the lyrics are often slyly clever. The overall sound is sharp, but the bass is nice and round. And Frankie Muriel's vocals aren't the smoothest around, but he sells these songs with aplomb, not unlike a certain Diamond Dave did 30 years ago.

    I know I'm gonna regret the Van Halen reference, but it still makes sense to me. These guys have style. The band sounds as if it doesn't have a care, and so you get nine pop/rock/r&b/disco raveups imbued with pure pleasure. My teenage throbbing desire, indeed.


    Todd Duane
    Todd Duane
    (Shrapnel)
    reviewed in issue #91, 11/6/95

    Above-average pyrotechnics ranging from funk to grunge to glam to fairly traditional scale work. Duane pulls out all the stops to try and make his album memorable.

    And at times it is, particularly on tunes like "Purple Umbrella", where Duane shows a nice touch for song crafting. There are many moments that sound a lot like other instrumental guitar albums, but for a first effort, this is pretty good.

    Duane shows a good chunk of potential, and if he keeps working, he just might really bust loose from the pack.


    Chris Duarte Group
    Tailspin Headwhack
    (Silvertone)
    reviewed in issue #144 (9/29/97)

    More of the hippie techno blues from this Texas guitarist. The Stevie Ray Vaughn comparisons have followed him forever, and that makes sense. Duarte does share one important trait with Vaughn: Both are at their best interpreting other people's tunes. The original stuff falls flat (sometimes horribly so), but his reinvention of fairly well-known pieces are generally quite good.

    Particularly stunning is a wild re-invention of "The Thrill Is Gone", one of two tracks produced by Gordie Johnson (David Z did the rest). Duarte's vocals aren't particularly stirring, but his guitar work soars above the electronic stew underneath. That one bit is probably worth the price of the album, though you've got to get through a lot of rather middling (if not downright mind-numbing) songs as well.

    Duarte can play, and he sings well enough. But he doesn't seem to know how to write songs that take advantage of his prodigious talent, and it gets kinda maddening to hear his beautiful guitar playing sunk inside some really awful songs.

    I've never been a big fan of the Texas white boy blues (at least anything in the past 15 years or so), and this album doesn't come close to changing my mind. Duarte needs to find someone who can feed him songs that make his guitar sing. And then watch out.


    Dub Club
    Dub Club
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #204, 8/28/00

    The press note has an awful lot of hype all over it. Not pretentious, just mentioning that the two main members of Dub Club are pretty cool. I think that's probably a fair statement.

    As you might guess from the name, these boys play the dub, beats and bass. With lots of special guests and lots of samples. Mumia's here, and so is an almost-dead Bill Graham, Sly Dunbar (of course), Nepalese villagers and Lebanese Palestinians.

    Good dub resembles a sonic stew, and the Dub Club recognizes this. Oh, it's nice to slap down some nice grooves (and there are plenty here). But the test is how all the flavors come together.

    This one smells divine. There is no trick: Dub works or it doesn't. The wild expanse of flavors sampled here swirl together to create an almost-irresistible dish. Don't just get lost in the grooves; float along and see what you catch on the surface as well.


    Dub Gabriel
    Ascend
    (Baboon)
    reviewed in issue #244, August 2003

    A few years back I was hooked up with the fine folks at Wordsound in Brooklyn, and I got a dose of slammin' experimental dub every few months. But lately, my mailbox hasn't heard a thing from those parts. So this disc is a welcome toast to my ears.

    Throbbing, bounding beats that defy any particular label. This is dub in that there are very few articulated words--with the exception of some fractured bits from Young Sand on "New Sand." This probably isn't exactly what old school dubheads would expect, but then again, I don't know much of the new school.

    I simply know that this is very impressive. Dub Gabriel creates entirely new sounds for each song and then goes wherever the mood flows. There is an expectant feeling here, an omnipresent thought that something new is about to happen. And it usually does.

    Strip off your cares and just dive in. Let the beats take control and then see what happens. This is a good trip. I promise.


    Dub Syndicate
    Live at the Maritime Hall
    (2B1)
    reviewed in issue #207, 10/30/00

    This is, supposedly, a live recording. But Style Scott and his entourage have created a live album without any input from the crowd. Instead, this is more of a live-to-tape studio effort recorded at a club.

    And it works. There is the improvisational feel inimical to good live albums and also the astonishing clarity that most folks can only find in a studio. These songs are tightly plotted and executed, but they still shine with a vital sparkle.

    Style Scott has said that he wants Dub Syndicate to be the Pink Floyd of reggae. The Floyd's influence hangs heavy over these songs, but without smothering them. The band has managed to take the inventive electronic ideas without also incorporating the ponderous bloat.

    I would hesitate to call this "live." Oh, sure, it is, but only in the strictest of senses. No matter. The album is of the highest quality, merely another way to approach the evolving theory of the Dub Syndicate. Tap in and get wired.


    Dub War
    Enemy Maker CD5
    (Earache)
    reviewed in issue #110, 5/27/96

    Three renditions of "Enemy Maker (regular, acoustic and a dub), a demo lick, and a couple outside remixes. All showing the range and potential glory of Dub War.

    When the band sticks to its idea of sparse pop (with the odd guitar bashing and such), like on the demo rendition of "Silencer", the results are stunning. It's on the grungy bashers like "Money in the Bank" (which serves as a b-side here, I guess) where the band falls flat.

    "Enemy Maker" is an addictive enough track, with its nods to metal, pop, dance hall and plenty more. I'd like to hear some more.


    Dubadelic
    Bass Invaders
    (Wordsound)
    reviewed in issue #161, 6/15/98

    Bill Laswell and a load of friends kick out some spacey dub, thick in the groove and thicker in the bass. Drop in lots of kicky samples and general madness ensues.

    Oh, my, but these songs take their time. A gorgeous, languid feel pervades the songs. No hurry to get anywhere, no worries at all. Just some beautiful, low-down funk.

    Yeah, and you gotta love the space invaders concept (from artwork to the sampled subjects). Goofy and entrancing. A real dirty, fried chicken sound from the production. Lots of crackles and pops, a lot of everything. Meandering in a cool stew.

    Oh, yeah, this is on the edge of comprehension. But the sound is so deep, there's always something new to discover. Just trip along into the groove and see where your mind ends up.


    Dubious Ranger
    Found Recordings from the Panda Valley Mining Company c.1931
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #336, April 2012

    The sound is lo-fi americana. The melodies are often gorgeous, but they're hidden behind a wall of gauze. While this sort of anti-production generally comes off as pretentious and maddening, it works (mostly) for Alexander Eccles and Dubious Ranger.

    Eccles has a regular life as a classical pianist and "custom songwriter" (whatever that might mean). Again, this could signal pretension beyond belief. But not on this album, anyway. These songs move along with a chunky grace, even if some of their prettier moments are lost to the production sound.

    Rhythm drives these songs, even the ones that meander a bit. Indeed, the percussion sits at the center, not Eccles's piano. Though I'm pretty sure he's the one behind all the thrum as well.

    Lots of all over the place, but the center holds. And there's a lightness of touch that keeps this from becoming something oppressive. Stick with the program, and all will be well.


    Duck Butter
    Music that Gary Likes
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #134, 5/12/97

    Boy, if you're a big fan of Hootie and the Spin Doctors, well, this might do the trick. If you lower your standards a bit.

    The hooks just aren't that solid, and the playing is barely interesting enough to keep the average AOR freak awake. It's kinda like Blues Traveler decided to drink a lot and play James Taylor. There's something going on, perhaps, but there's no way I can care.

    To top it off, the stuff is just way too calculated. As if this is a sound pre-programmed to take the band "to the top". This, of course, is the easiest path to failure.

    This is a band that lives somewhere around York. My landlord gave me the disc, but the phone number he gave me didn't get me in touch with the band (and there isn't an address or phone number or anything on the disc itself), so I can't tell you how to find these guys. This is a good lesson for hustling bands: always include some way for people to get a hold of you. Some of us are anal and throw away envelopes as soon as we open them.


    Jim Duffy
    Side One
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #265, June 2005

    Jim Duffy on piano and electric piano, backed up by a basic guitar-bass-drums band and all sorts of friends. Duffy does paint his songs differently depending on the extras (horns, strings, etc.)--or maybe he calls in his pals to flesh out his songs the way he wants them to sound.

    Either way, Duffy is essentially an r&b piano player, with touches of boogie-woogie and other styles seamlessly tossed in. His songs simply roll out with consummate ease, immediately charming the ear and inducing the mind to relax. Take a load off. Enjoy yourself.

    And as these songs stroll through classic soul, the blues, rock, jazz and more, the one connecting factor is Duffy's stylish feel for the keyboard. He plays the electric piano on most of these songs, and he manages to exude real emotion and feeling on an instrument which can make that quite difficult.

    Just a lovely feel to this album. It cycles through plenty of moods, but the prevailing wind is that of a warm spring breeze. Effervescent, with the promise of better days to come. And the ideas to back up that optimism. Truly a joy.


    Mood Lit
    (Three Dots)
    reviewed in issue #312, November 2009

    Duffy composes utterly charming pieces for the piano and organ. Duffy's pieces are instantly attractive, but the writing is sophisticated enough to attract exacting ears. Another fine album from a guy who knows how to make good music.


    Dufus
    This (Dufus) Revolution
    (Opulence)
    reviewed in issue #183, 6/7/99

    The title of the album might be just This Revolution. I like the other better, and since that's what the cover says, well, I'm going with that. Quite honestly, the music itself is similarly confusing.

    Some really long songs, somewhat orchestrated (there's usually a piano around, and sometimes what passes for strings, though that might just be keyboards or something). The songs themselves are generally loosely built around guitar riffage, though they wander so much that after a minute or so it's pretty much impossible to figure out what's going on.

    I'm pretty sure these guys get lost while playing their stuff. There is a highly improvisational quality to the songs here, and I'm guessing each performance features a different arrangement. A hallmark of a young and creative band.

    Think of this as a work in progress. Hey, I'm all for experimental fare, but Dufus sounds like it wants to be a bit more mainstream than these songs have turned out. Still, it is an interesting snapshot of a moment in time, hearing a band begin to come to terms with its grand notions. I'd suggest more work, but I did enjoy myself immensely.


    Duh
    The Unholy Handjob
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #80, 7/15/95

    While the press refers to Duh as "musically-challenged", the odd thing is that the songs are dumb, catchy pop hardcore tunes. And as track 7 ("Our Guitarist Is in Faith No More") explains, there is a star trip thing going on.

    And that doesn't even mention the current and recently-departed members of the AT staff in the band. Hell, this is such an inside joke only the well-connected or label-whore types have a shot at getting the whole story. But why worry. This is a gawdawful mess of silliness. And to treat as anything but would be a serious mistake.


    Duke Fame
    Regrets
    (Geeves Records)
    reviewed in issue #232, August 2002

    Yes, named after the Howard Hesseman character in This Is Spinal Tap. How clever.

    These folks don't try to replicate whatever sort of music the fictional Duke Fame might have propagated. Rather, they play a light, tuneful sort of pop rock. Reminds me of any sort of late 80s alternapop bands.

    Which is a good thing, in my book. While these guys aren't as distinctive as they should be, there's something in the sound that catches my ear. An infectious feeling of one kind or another. The little "something" that makes me want to hear an album again.

    Don't ask too much of Duke Fame, and you'll be more than pleased. This puppy snuck up on me. It was the last album to make the review cut, but I'm liking it more and more with each listen. More than anything else, that's the sign of a good album.


    Dumm-Dumms
    Oxymaroon
    (Glass Tube)
    reviewed in issue #131, 3/31/97

    Back when there was such a thing as "college rock", Dumm-Dumms would have come across as one of the perfect incarnations. Three white guys with guitars, singing in sorta harmony about somewhat erudite subjects and not paying complete attention to things like structure, though accessible enough for sorority girls to like. Toad the Wet Sprocket, anyone?

    Well, Dumm-Dumms are a little more interesting than that, but not by a lot. The most galling thing is that most songs get introduced by a drum track, and that track has about three settings. So that while the songs themselves don't sound alike, the first thirty seconds of each bear striking resemblances.

    Now, as I'm sucking on the Dum-Dums sucker they taped to the tape (lemon, not a favorite but certainly acceptable), I'd better say something nice, I guess. The easiest compliment is that the band members are quite good musicians, and they've put together a very professional-sounding album. The real lack is in the inspiration (I've been saying that too much already this week).

    If you like alterna-rock by the numbers, Dumm-Dumms fit perfectly. I just want something more. Mere competence isn't enough.


    Dumpster Juice
    That Not So Fresh Feeling
    (Spanish Fly-Restless)
    reviewed in issue #31, 3/31/93

    Straight outta Minneapolis, with that fine AmRep sound going strong. Is it thrash? Is it hardcore? Is it metal? Is it... Right. All the questions you ask when first confronted by this stuff can't be answered.

    Brutish and bruising. I can't see a lot of folks jumping on the bandwagon, because this stuff is so damn nasty. Everything rides down on your brain after a while and you just have to plead for mercy. There is none in sight. Just this heavy guitar that keeps grinding and grinding and...

    If anyone will get this, you, my faithful and adventurous readers, will. And should. Good fucking music for those into violence.


    Dumpster Juice
    Godplow
    D.D.S/Weak split 7"
    (227/Spanish Fly)
    reviewed in issue #55, 5/31/94

    I'm not sure how all this got hooked up, but the result is one brutal 7".

    Godplow are another of the fine crew of N.C. metal bands. The boys simply destroy anything in their path, and this single is no different. Pleasant deadly aggression.

    Many of you are on the Dumpster Juice album, but you might want to check this out. A little heavier than their last album (haven't heard the new one yet), D.J. finds a couple grooves and rip their way on through.


    Dunderhead
    Songs of Dunder
    (SkyDiver)
    reviewed in issue #77, 5/31/95

    Remember the ska wave of the early eighties? The one that spawned Madness, the Specials, UB40 (before they really went dance hall) and other such things? Dunderhead combines that sound with an odd new wave overwash, most of which comes from the huge amount of keyboards and sequencers in use.

    The result is a fairly appealing set of pop tunes that turns back the clock about 15 years. Dunderhead makes sure the lyrics are loopy and the music just slightly off-kilter, lending a somewhat eerie feel to the disc at times.

    If quirky pop is your bag, then this will perk up your ears. The sense of amusement rampant throughout the disc is pretty well addicting.


    Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant
    Sister Phantom Owl Fish
    (Ipecac)
    reviewed in issue #256, August 2004

    As the sticker on the jewel box says, "Yes, the Trevor Dunn from Fantomas and Mr. Bungle." Yes, it is him, and yes, trust that he'll find every excuse to wig out when he doesn't have to kowtow to anyone else's ideas.

    The songs are an unholy mess of styles and sounds. But Dunn does have a decent handle on jazz construction, and most of the time he manages to keep these songs together. In fact, the closer to jazz (as opposed to prog or hard rock or noise) the sound is, the more these songs sound coherent.

    No matter what style Dunn happens to be channeling with his guitar, he's always going at least three places at once. He's got one hell of a fertile mind, and there are a few moments here where I wish he'd hired on an editor. But I'm always much more forgiving when the problem is excess rather than reticence. I'm pretty sure no one has ever called Dunn's playing or writing "reserved."

    Way too many ideas for one album, surely, but I'll take that overload any day. This is a confident and assured album, even if it is a royal mess at times. Hey, the guy thanks John Zorn in the liners--this stuff isn't that extreme, but it's just as unusual.


    Dunwich
    Ignorance Powered by Greed
    (demo)
    reviewed in issue #63, 9/30/94

    More of the current metalcore trend. The lyrics mean well, but are fairly generic as well. Performance and production are above average. Those folks have the chops. At the moment, however, it seems they do not have the inspiration.

    There is too much decent playing here to preclude any growth. If the band finds its muse, well...


    Duotang
    The Message 7"
    (Mint)
    reviewed in issue #116, 8/12/96

    Power pop that has obviously been schooled on everything from the Beatles to Nick Lowe to Squeeze, and everything in between. Yes, Brit-pop from the Great White North (Winnipeg, to be precise), and it's pretty glorious.

    The mix here is a bit bass heavy (I couldn't quite equalize out the problems, even), but the hooky nature of this stuff would apparent even to a tone-deaf earthworm. The A-side is a mid-tempo shuffler that sounds like any number of songs you've heard before, but still somehow different. The flip has two songs, the first ("Review") somber and sample-heavy, and the second ("Farewell") more biting.

    Love to hear a full-length. I can hear more than a little potential in these three tunes, and a complete set (with better production) should begin to satisfy my curiosity and craving.


    Smash the Ships and Raise the Beams
    (Mint)
    reviewed in issue #119, 9/23/96

    A couple of tunes from the recent 7" (including "The Message", which is as glorious a pop tune as I've heard in ages). The rest of the album works very hard to explore many moods in the pop sound, and I've got to say the guys succeeded in their aim.

    Just drums, bass and (sometimes) organ, thankyouverymuch. A unique sound, to be sure, and one that works really well. Sure, this is jangly as hell. Why the fuck not?

    Describing terminal bliss is a bitch for me. I've been waiting for this disc with baited breath for the last couple months. The postcard alone sent me into some sort of ecstatic reverie. And the goods have been delivered.

    My only (very small) complaint is that the production sometimes gets a little overbearing. With only a couple guys in the band, overdubs are a necessary evil, and like Flat Duo Jets, sometimes the mix gets just a bit weird. Still, this is very minor. I love this disc. Please sir, may I have some more?


    The Cons & the Pros
    (Mint)
    reviewed in issue #163, 7/20/98

    Drum 'n' bass, though not in the way that folks think nowadays. This Winnipeg duo plays astonishingly appealing pop music (somewhere between the Beach Boys and Big Star, if that makes any sense at all), overlaying some of the creepier lyrics around.

    I'm not sure why hearing these guys always puts me on a high, particularly since I've taken an unusual interest in the band's poetic musings. Black humor, man, very black humor. Stuff so dark that the average person would just assume these guys are on the other side of insane.

    This being the second great album from Duotang, I think it can be said that the boys know exactly what they're doing and that they do it very, very well, thankyouverymuch. And with only a couple instruments (with the odd organ or horns, but they're not around much), too. Amazing.

    The sort of music which works its way under the skin and then festers for a while, insisting that it be played on a regular basis. Fine by me. And now I've got 12 new songs to suck on. More than fine. More like great. Insanely great, even.


    The Bright Side
    (Mint)
    reviewed in issue #219, 7/16/01

    Mint Records always knows when it should find me. Like whenever there's a new Duotang album. The band is still two guys wielding a bass, drums and organ (not all at the same times, of course). Some friends stop by to fill out the sound every now and again.

    The title is appropriate. These songs aren't quite as dark and cynical as on the first two albums, though there's still plenty of dark humor lying just beneath the surface. Here, the songs are more sophisticated, taking time to express a variety of ideas before devolving to the expected pessimism.

    Also, the songs sound more finished. That's a good thing, 'cause bands have to grow and evolve. You don't want to grow stagnant, particularly with the minimalist feel Duotang fostered early on.

    Not that the old sound wasn't attractive. I was back at the University of Missouri for a football game last fall, and a girl driving a red Camaro was blasting something from the first album. Took me a minute to identify the song, though I recognized it immediately. Growth isn't a bad thing. Duotang has simply sharpened its knives.


    Duraluxe
    Dolorosa
    (Meddle)
    reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    Some of that gloriously fuzzed-out pop (you might swear the ghost of My Bloody Valentine was hanging out) that was so popular when I was in college a few years back. One interesting note: the band is from Nashville, and one of the members worked with a Christian recording artist as "there was a real lack of death metal bands to work with" at the time. I can tell you from experience that there were, in fact, quite a few. Nashville was (and may still be) the Christian death metal capital of the world.

    Wow. That's a tangent. I'll stop now. Anyway, like I said, at times Duraluxe really travels through a time warp (at least in my head). Not derivative, mind you, just wallowing in a sound from a somewhat bygone era. Nothing wrong with that.

    The sort of album which encourages the production of alpha brain waves (if they're still called that). Good zoning tunes. Not boring, but built for introspection. Prepare for a field trip to the frontal lobes, with or without chemical enhancement.

    I didn't like this sorta stuff so much back then (you can read some of my 1991 and 1992 reviews and figure that out real quick). But my tastes have evolved, and so has the music. I am perfectly pleased with this disc.


    Durdy Birdie
    Magnet Mountain
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    The sort of lo-fi, low key folk-pop noodlings that seem to accumulate under the Drag City label. Not quite so idiosyncratic as Palace, but not so poppy as Smog (to dig into that Drag City for a couple of references).

    The songs simply roll on and on, with seemingly just enough momentum to keep things in motion. In reality, of course, there's plenty of intensity to drive the motors. It's just the quiet kind.

    Obviously, the lyrics tend toward the questioning and introspective. This sort of sound is driven by ultra-personal revelations and a general need to shock. "Did he really say that?" Yeah.

    But Durdy Birdie doesn't play gotcha too often. Most of these songs simply explore the darker side of the mind. Pleasant? Not always. But certainly worth the ride.


    Dureforsog
    Exploring Beauty
    (Kool Arrow)
    reviewed in issue #217, 6/4/01

    There's an umlaut over the u and the second o in Dureforsog, but I'm just not in the mood to look up the ASCII symbols. I think you get the idea, anyway. As for the music, it's some nicely warped Danish stuff.

    I don't know if you've heard much music from Denmark or read many Danish novels, but the stuff tends to be gloomy. In a thoughtful sorta way. With more than a few twists. Dureforsog doesn't disappoint.

    Almost orchestral doomy stuff, lurching from Nick Cave to Cold Meat Industry territory at will. The only constant is a sense of foreboding. There's not much cheer to be had here. Mostly snarls, rough sniffs and the odd space trip.

    I'm not sure where beauty comes in, but Dureforsog certainly explores a number of ideas on this album. Nothing comes easily in Denmark, I guess (that's certainly been my experience), but from suffering can come some wonderful art. Worked that way here.


    Liz Durrett
    Outside Our Gates
    (Warm)
    reviewed in issue #299, August 2008

    Durrett has a couple cameos on the Don Chambers album reviewed above, and her music does share a certain dour feeling. But while Chambers warms up a bit, Durrett never puts away her ethereal singing style. Not even when the music starts moving.

    This highly-restrained sort of singing is an acquired taste, and it's not really mine. But it does work exceptionally well within the arrangements of these songs. I'm sure there are other ways to sing these pieces, but her way works quite well.

    That vocal style does keep these songs from ever taking full flight, but they're not supposed to. This is an introspective exercise, and as such it triumphs. These pieces invite pondering.

    And then they flit away on the wind. Some folks who try this style get ponderous. Durrett never touches the ground. Her songs are graceful gliders eternally swooping low and then finding the next thermal in order to rise once more. Entrancing stuff.


    The Dustbowl Revival
    You Can't Go Back to the Garden of Eden
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #315, March 2010

    The actual name of this band may be Zach Lupetin and the Dustbowl Revival, but I opted for the short version. In any case, Lupetin is the undisputed leader of this eclectic troupe which mixes Dixieland, Django Reinhardt-style gypsy jazz, folk, bluegrass, western, swing, blues and tin pan alley pop into one big party.

    No, really. Each song incorporates most of those elements and then throws in a few more just for fun. And really, that's what this album is: One bag-ass ball of joy.

    Complicated? Yeah, if you parse it out. But the Dustbowl Revival swings so solidly that all the effort remains behind the curtain. All that can be heard is a large group of people playing and singing their hearts out. And having an awesome great time while they do it.

    Positively infectious. I defy anyone to get through this album without smiling, much less taking to the floor and grabbing the nearest partner. It doesn't matter if you know how to dance; there are so many styles on this disc even someone with three left feet could find something that worked. Absolutely fabulous.


    Holy Ghost Station
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #330, September 2011

    With fourteen listed members and an additional handful of "special guests," calling the Dustbowl Revival a collective is something of an understatement. Calling it anything other than startlingly remarkable would be a crime.

    These folks ply the waters of modern old-timey music, bringing in folk, rural and urban blues, western swing, bluegrass, N'awlins jazz, Tin Pan Alley and plenty more. Every song features gloriously ragged vocals (though often sweet harmonizin') and the sound of a party in full swing.

    The sound is round and full, leaving the ears dripping with excess. The entire package is a lush testament to the greatness of American music, even when the folks dabble in a bit of Francophilia. I suppose you could file this under "americana," but then it would close off the category forever. The Dustbowl Revival is almost unparalleled.

    You're welcome to find some flaws, but they've largely escaped my ears. This is the second incomparable album from these folks in as many years. I'm thunderstruck.


    Duster
    Contemporary Movement
    (Up(
    reviewed in issue #203, 8/7/00

    Well, the songs aren't instrumentals. Not most of them, anyway. But they're played like they are. The vocals are generally down in the mix, and the guitars lead. The songs do not "dumb down" when the vocals come in. Everything continues in full complexity.

    And so this Pell Mell meets emo sound rambles on. Rambling is a good way to put it, too, because Duster doesn't seem to have much of a destination in mind. The songs rise and fade, kinda like the tide. The beauty is in the details. Like when a dolphin follows the flow to the shore.

    There is great care in the construction of the music, which is probably why the vocals are used as much as another instrument as anything else. Sure, some of these songs actually tell stories and add ideas to the music, but really, this disc is about fuzzy lines.

    And those lines paint a most amazing picture. Yeah, it helps to take this more in the abstract than the particular, but that's not unusual. Duster's somewhat convoluted thought process only helps to color the music that much more. Perfect for cranial speculation.


    Dutch Kills
    Scale 300 Feet to the Inch EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #231, July 2002

    There's something about lilting, brooding pop music that really gets to me. Dutch Kills bores deep into the subconscious, both with its incisive lyrics and loping melodies.

    The general structure here is an organized meander. At first listen, the songs seem to just float along. But by the end obvious themes have arisen, and repeat listens confirm that the threads were there all along.

    Well-crafted, but not to the point of dullness. Dutch Kills is constantly inventive, working very hard to keep its intense songs lively and interesting. Five songs are simply not enough. I'd like seconds, please.


    Nothing Was Ever the Same EP
    (Wordclock)
    reviewed in issue #256, August 2004

    Branching out a bit from the more spare sounds of Scale 300 Feet to the Inch, Dutch Kills fills the speakers and still manages to keep a one-to-one conversation going strong.

    That's what I liked best about that album. Most albums are obviously aimed at this or that sort of sound. Dutch Kills simply played to whatever listener was around. This may sound like a stupid distinction, but I would disagree. These boys have the knack of creating an intimacy with just a few notes. The music immediately drew me in. And I think it does the same for a lot more people as well.

    I paged through some of the reviews, and no one really knows how to describe the band. That's what I'm talking about. The folks love the stuff but can't quite describe it. Not quite emo, not quite post-rock, not quite indie rock, not quite anything in particular. Just all them expressed in the most engaging way possible. Someday these boys are going to blow up something fierce.


    DuValby Bros.
    The Sleepytime Medicine Band
    (Cambodia-Flexovit)
    reviewed in issue #112, 6/17/96

    The first release on Cambodia, run by the members of Craw (this is also where you'll find the upcoming new Craw release). Perfectly suited to such surroundings.

    Wondrously morose and noisy, DuValby Bros. never hesitate to wail, crank up the distortion or wallow in mellow musings. Truly schizophrenic, as I'm pretty sure these guys have voices in their heads telling them to do very sick things. At least, that's what it sounds like from here.

    Once again, Cleveland has spawned a cool band. And even though the rock and roll hall of fame thingy is there, I seriously doubt the members of DuValby Bros. aspire to such silliness. After all, there is good music to be made.

    A fine set of atmospheric noise. I can't say I understand completely, but then, I don't think I want to delve too far into the madness.


    David Dvorin
    With(In)communicado
    (Pax Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    David Dvorin not only utilizes modern digital recording technology to put together his pieces, he uses the unique opportunities afforded to further his compositional style.

    First, there's the title track, a piece in six movements that's scattered throughout the disc. Dvorin uses samples as percussive elements, thematic anchors and even as structural supports of the melodies.

    On another track, Dvorin flips his original melody around, playing both the original and the reversed on top of each other to create a truly spooky effect. The thing is, whether he's using guitar, banjo or a sample to anchor a song, there's always another shade to the sound.

    The multi-leveled thought process behind this disc truly impresses me. The "simple" sounds are anything but, and the more intense moments bring together an impressive coalescence of ideas. A stunning set of pieces.


    The Dygmies
    Race to Mars EP
    (self-released)
    reviewed in issue #134, 5/12/97

    Sharply-produced stuff that reminds me a lot of the same sorta thing Duck Butter (the above review) is trying to do. The Dygmies are somewhat better at constructing hooks, and the overall effect shifts the emphasis over to a Connells type of sound.

    Nice enough, but unfortunately forgettable as well. Fluff pop that evaporates soon after contacting air. Not even a sharp knob job can save that.

    Simply stuck in the middle. The Dygmies need to find a way to hone an edge somewhere in the music, because as it sounds now, anyone could be playing this. A mark of distinction is needed.

    Some potential here, though. The Dygmies are not a lost cause, though the guys need to get found fairly soon.


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