Welcome to A&A. There are 12 full reviews in this issue. Click on an artist to jump to the review, or simply scroll through the list. If you want information on any particular release, check out the Label info page. All reviews are written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.|
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A&A #267 reviews
The Bangkok Five
10 the Hard Way EP
Garage attitude combined with a full-fuzz sound and some decidedly polished guitar work...when you crank out a pile of shiny rock, you'd damn well better overload the energy factor. These boys do.
Kinda like the "Sister Havana" side of Urge Overkill's major label experiment, these boys flash some killer hookmaking skills even as they try to rock out the universe. And like I noted above, the sound is tres "I wanna be a star."
That's cool with me. The energy is, in fact, overloaded in a most pleasing way. The Bangkok Five probably ought to do a little more to differentiate itself from the pack--be it rock or emo (or can we merge those two terms, please?)--but I'm not gonna complain about the five swingingly stylish pieces of big rock on this disc. Just what the dog days of summer ordered.
Insults and Insights EP
Boyracer has that tinny fuzz endemic to old-school indie rock, and there are some fun fake falsetto vocals, too. And just when I feel like I can put these folks down as smooth retroids, they shift gears into modern art pop. And then back again. And then I realize that the folks are combining those two fairly disparate ideas, and it's only on a couple songs that one filters out the other.
By indie rock, I'm talking about Wedding Present or early My Bloody Valentine. And by modern art pop, I'm talking about anything from the Sea and Cake to Tortoise to one particular phase of the Mekons or latter-day Wilco. That's a lot of territory to cover, and Boyracer spans these ideas with exuberance.
Above all my arcane analysis, this is one hell of a fun disc. The songs never flag, and in the end, it's that excitement that carries over into my opinion. Crunchy as hell, and quite tasty that way.
The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band
The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band
Kinda like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, except that these folks are serious about bringing back the 60s, and most of the members are Norwegian (guitarist and vocalist R. Edwards has a name that sounds suspiciously non-Scandinavian).
And like BJM, Brimstone drops plenty of modern ideas into this peace, love and psychedelic rumination brio. There's a good chunk of organ, some mandolin and--oh yeah--a little sitar here and there. These guys reference Love as much as the Airplane...though the lyrics certainly do seem to have been steeped in a mushroom stew.
The sound is the most modern part of this album. The full, lush production is decidedly non-60s, but that's cool. It brings out the otherworldliness of certain aspects of the music. Makes everything a bit more out there. And that doesn't hurt one bit.
If I had to take a position, I'd say these boys are a bit too enamored with the past. I'd like to hear somewhat more modern ideas thrown into the mix a bit more often. But this is a fun little piece of historical reconstruction, one that goes down well with psilocybin chaser.
Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkillers
Feel Good Tunes EP
Solid ska tuneage. Captain Bringdown and company stray from the punk-ska formula every now and again, but every song ends up in power skank mode by the end. And that's fine with me. These folks provide plenty of tasty hooks.
I guess that's the trick with most anything. After all, this formula hasn't been particularly altered since the days of OpIvy--though the production sound has improved 1000 percent, of course. Not that such a thing makes the music any better, of course.
But I digress. These are, indeed, feel good tunes. Six tight, well-constructed punk ska pieces played with skill and aplomb. Could I pick these folks out of a lineup? Maybe, maybe not. Still, solid songwriting is nothing to sneeze at. Plenty of fun.
Colony of Watts
The sticker on the front calls this "hard rock." If that's the case, then hard rock has come an awfully long way. And I say that as a balls-out hard rock fan.
Colony of Watts is a polished no wave act--think Jesus Lizard's later days, or perhaps Kepone's more tuneful moments. And yeah, the interplay between the lead guitar and rhythm section is exceptional, most worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as those folks.
Indeed, the subconscious grooves in these songs are just brilliant. These boys sound utterly loose, but the songs still manage to be sewn up tight. The sound is ragged, but still powerful enough to bring out the natural throb in the material.
Hard rock? I dunno. It is damned loud, of course, and it is rock and roll, but I think that label is a bit misleading. These boys are on the noise side of the divide, and we should all be thankful for that. There's nothing like a little dissonance and boogie to get one right with the Lord.