Record And Tape Reviews: September 1991



These boys are from the Provo/Orem area, and have been around for almost a year. If anyone’s heard of Slinky Fink, it’s the same band. Who we have here are: Jason Rabb on guitar, Grant Jarvis on bass, Dan Day on drums and Jerrod “Spanky” Rowan vocals. This EP is their first effort and a damn good one.

Gladbird’s EP contains six songs-five with vocals and on instrumental. The tape starts off with “Hesitate,” one of my favorites. Very intense, heavy, powerful. Sort of old Black Sabbath meets Living Colour. The song starts out slow, increases in speed a tad, and this wonderful riff spews out of Jason’s guitar.

Another song is “Fist.” This one is fast, movin’, groovin’, and damn good, though I wonder about the lyrics: “So just get on your knees / And I’ll grab your hair.”

“Opium Den” begins with a lovely guitar whine, then adds jazzy bass and drums. Some good effects are thrown in as well. A little mellow in the beginning, then building up to a powerful Zeppelin-ish riff. Smooth rhythm changes, with a cool-as-hell Jimi / jazz guitar solo. Definitely one of the most impressive points of the song.

The instrumental on the EP is “Jazz Deluxe,” and most jazzy indeed! The influences of these boys really shine through on this one-some serious fun guitar/melody, groovin’ jazz bass and excellent drums with lots o’ cymbals. One of the high points on the EP, especially since there are no vocals.

What I’m really not impressed by are the lyrics and vocals throughout the entire EP. Spanky only sounds whiny and strained and the effects used on his voice don’t really help any. The entire sound and feel of the vocals just seems to muddle up the songs rather than strengthen the complexity, precision and talent of this band.

This band is damn good. The EP is damn good. BUT, it would be even better with a different vocalist who would be able to bring out the wonderfulness of the band. And in case you were wondering, yes, I believe you should go out and buy this. It’s only four bucks, and well worth it. What else can I say but decide for yourself.


Playground –  Debut Cassette

Listening to Salt Lake band Playground is a lot like being in a playground. It feels a bit immature, a little impulsive but it can be fun.

Playground’s debut cassette features seven selections of offbeat pop played with ragged straightforwardness and undeniable energy. Since vocalist Julie Stutznegger sings in a lofty child-like voice and the band offers up rather trebly unimposing backing, some easy comparisons are to 10,000 maniacs, Throwing Muses, Salem66 and The New Bohemians.

The band (Stephen Rose: guitar, Adam Allen: bass, Brad Butterfield: drums) obviously aspire to join the league of collegiate funky punksters. Playground succeed in exactly this genre.

The tape’s opening track “Mimmick” is probably the best. Adam plucks a good groove, Stephen’s guitar weaves in and out nicely and Brad Butterfield seems contented with a slower tempo. This allows Julie to enunciate and presto, the listener gets a solid, danceable, alternative pop song.

Playground is certainly a quality local band. The good song that Playground writes are executed a little passionless. Given a good studio, I’m sure Playground could become more essential. 


Living ColourBiscuits 

What the hell kind of message is Epic sending with the advertising for this mini-album?

While a streamer bears the note “Eat Me!” back notes from L.C. give us a Santa Claus-lie message of, “Dear Virginia, here are some of the things we found in the pantry. Hope you like ‘em.”

Friendly or threateningly, I decided to venture forth, remembering the all-too-brief glee of a similar Fishbone release. To my delight, much of the material consists of covers, from artists as diverse as James Brown, Rev. Al Green, Jimi Hendrix and Talking Heads.

Why these songs were judged unworthy for album inclusion is a mystery—they’re as strong as anything this under-appreciated band has committed to vinyl. For example, Hendrix’s “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” lets L.C. guitarist Vernon Reid (the best axeman in mainstream rock) his fluid fingers do the talking. Likewise, the live cover of the Heads’ “Memories Can’t Wait” out shines L.C.’s original cover—with a more sexually frustrated charge as compared to David Byrne’s ultra-neurotic version.

But first and foremost is vocalist Corey Glover’s smoldering cover of James Brown’s “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing,” which adds a great funk element to the band’s music (take that to those critics who charge they don’t play “Black enough”).

This is a mature (yet delightfully loose) effort that makes the wait for another album almost intolerable. Take a bite of these “biscuits.” 


Fractal Method

There for a while, during the Lars “fractured method” days I got really sick of hearing about Fractal Method. Since that time I have had a lot of time to listen to the music and even see them live.

I personally think that Chaos, Fractal Method’s second effort, is one of the best local releases in a long time. This five-song tape is a great sample of what the band is about.

Clarke Walker, the writer, producer, and driving force behind this band, has created a style of music that is unique from any other in the area.

Chaos was completely produced on a portable system, but you could never tell. The production value is incredible. Clarke has combined modern technology with live instrumentation to create his music.

“Getting With The Devil” and “A Deadly Complication” stand out as the best songs but the others are just as well written and produced. A definite must—buy it.


For more from the SLUG Archives:

Record Reviews: February 1991

Concert Review: Warlock Pinchers, Maggot Heads and Dirty Gordon