Record Reviews: June 1994

Record Review: June 1993


The Colour Theory

Faith and Disease
“Jardeu Blue” 

Listen up chellovecks and devotchkas, and all my dogs in the underground. Orange is the eemya and The Colour Theory is the eegra! Yes, it’s a new one from one of Salt Lake’s little recognized bands, and this single is bound to make you creech and crark with excitement and vred your yarbles horrorshow.

A send up to the zammechat, A Clockwork Orange, Orange is a hard rocking lomtick of vinyl that’ll crack your gulliver and have you back begging for more of the ultraviolence. Slooshy this one, with all its damned glory: heavy power chords, pounding bass and drums and deep vocals with catchy pop/punk zvooks of “Singin’ In The Rain.” This is a well-crafted warble that borrows heavily from the film, but it works, and it works well.

On the flipside is the final installment of the anthemic “Steel Glass Shadow 111.” Like its predecessors, it drives hard, with lyrics shouted out at intervals—a sing along favorite!

“Jardeu Blue” is the second single from Seattle’s Faith & Disease and their first in collaboration with Aida House Records. It is another haunting tune that spins around musically, accented by female vocals that propel the song in all its beauty. There is a frailty to the music, as if the song might fall apart at any moment or blow away with a strong wind. Yet there is underlying strength from the rhythm section of the band that holds it together and keeps it turning around and  around.

The single wasn’t available at press time, but the b-side listed is Crown of Sorrow. Faith & Disease is a fine offering of Seattle’s music scene and a surprise to anyone who thinks Washington is only home to grunge and riot grrrls. –Matt



Sunshine & The Biffs
Some Sort of Compilation 

This is the WEIRDEST record I’ve heard in a long time. If you’ve heard this band before, then you already know what I mean. If you haven’t heard them yet, then your life is still incomplete, and you better get one of their tapes before you die unfulfilled.

This 60-minute cassette contains 27 songs, most culled from previous recordings, some previously unreleased. “8 Songs about babes, 12 Songs about death, 7 about Nothing,” says the inlay card … I don’t know about that, but I do know this: this the most bizarre, absolutely unique, doesn’t sound-like-ANYTHING-else band that Utah has ever spawned. Maybe it’s because they’re from Bountiful. (Ever been to Bountiful? It’s a nice place to live, but you wouldn’t want to visit there.)

These 27 tunes are strange, nervy, off-center, dissonant, tragicomic, lively, unexpected, and utterly original. The only thing I can think of that even comes close is The Residents’ early material (like the Commercial Album.) But this doesn’t sound like The Residents. I don’t know what it sounds like …

The easy thing would be to dismiss this as mere throw-away comedy material, but, there’s more than that going on here. Some genuine good playing and good songwriting are present here, lurking beneath the apparently-trivial surface like a mud-shark under your living-room carpet. This music probably sounds REAL COOL when you’re on drugs.

It’s hard to pick out individual tracks, because they’re all pretty strange. I especially like the deep, insightful lyrics of “Nacixem Love Songs” and “Quest For Platypus,” or the subtle, haunting melodies of “Pizza Master” and “X-Mas Time Dead Birds.”

You can buy this tape for $5 at Imagine Music, and I think you should. I also think you should follow the band home and build a nest in the crawl space underneath their house; then you could listen to them all the time. Buy the tape first; it’s got real high-tech, state-of-the art production and packaging. Besides, if you don’t buy it, you’ll get warts. –The Subhuman



The Accüsed
Splatter Rock 

Is it “death metal?” Is it hardcore, thrash, punk? None of the above. It’s just what the title says: Splatter Rock! And it’s a Seattle band that won’t be on MTV anytime soon! The fast and furious killing frenzy that is their trademark slams throughout this album, rivaling 1990’s Grinning Like an Undertaker for sheer psychopathic blood lust.

Sure, there’s some healthy socio-political outrage at work here in songs like “No Choice” or “Brutality and Corruption.” There are even a couple of relationship songs of the rejected-and-dejected variety, “Lettin’ Go” and “Tearin’ Me, Part.” But the main theme here is the ruthless, bloody murder of everyone in sight.

And of course the malevolent Martha Splatterhead is here to do her part in “She’s Back:” “Slamming your head into the concrete, again and again, again and again.” And again, there is a ’60s cover tune, although The Accüsed don’t so much cover as bludgeon-senseless-end-maturely-inter the antique pop hit “Green-Eyed-lady,” which unexpectedly displays some actual, melodic singing.

But The Accüsed are at their best when they just balls-out rip and tear. The solid, driving rhythm section of bassist Alex and latest-drummer Devin keeps the band’s feet on the ground—just barely—while Tommy‘s teeth-gnashin’ riff-crashin’ guitar work and Blaine‘s truly-demented vocals (he sounds kind of like Darby Crash after a couple of hits of crack and a six-pack of battery acid) combine to create a grisly alternative to the surgical-strike guitars and cookie-Monster vocals of their younger ‘death metal” musical cousins. It seems a little strange that the sheer ferocity of this ten-year-dd band should leave them sounding newer and fresher than many bands a fraction their age; but in a musical world where there can actually be such a thing as a “traditional death metal sound,” I guess anything is possible.

The raw underproduction of this LP (recorded and mixed in six days) imparts a live-like feel that is fully appropriate to the gruesome subject matter and relentless pace of this pernicious little gem. This is music that invokes the same kind of spastic glee you felt when you got your very first switchblade. Unfortunately, it is also probably the last such bloodbath, as Tommy has reportedly quit for good to play in Gruntruck, and rumor has it that Blaine has also taken a walk. If so, this is a fitting swan-song for the Seattle sickos and their murderous mascot. Turn it up loud, stand back and watch the blood fly! –The Subhuman



Imagine the music of sheet metal workers if they constructed guitars of aluminum and formed a band. Tar aren’t sheet metal workers, but two members play custom-made aluminum guitars.

Clincher is the latest release from these Chicago residents. The 7-song EP’s title comes from the brand-name of a 16-inch softball. Tar has the sound of pounding metal you would expect from aluminum guitars. The tempos move along like a melting mass of their namesake.

Lyrics are indecipherable over the lurching guitars, throbbing bass and minimalist drumming. The only song with somewhat discernible vocals is there make of last years single release, “Teetering.” It is a driving, rhythmic song with the classic feel of Golden Earring‘s “Radar Love.” The lyrics, “I’ve got to get out of here right now,” summon claustrophobia and near panic.

Clincher is a dark, powerful blend of sludge and dense noise. There are no loose ends. Tar plays as tight as the strings wound around the trunk of a dincher: “Don’t lump them in with the glut of noise guitar bands. The sheer intensity of their rhythmic noise lifts them soaring from the pit.



Today’s Active Lifestyle

Shit, life is good! Not only is vinyl starting to re-emerge as a viable commodity for independent labels, but Polvo has released their second record as well. Yes, I can call them records again, it’s me. I have a record sitting in front of me. It says Polvo on it, against a vast yellow background with a CD-size picture of small lions with horns. So much for the artistic values of vinyl.

As for the artistic merits of Polvo, let me just say that this is one of the most enjoyable finds in a long time. If you’re tired of every end these days, taking to the garage sound like sweat to an armpit and coming out stinky, then maybe you should give this a shot.

Their first release last year threw up this wall of sound that carried itself along with a wash of intensity and a distinctly buzzy guitar sound. It was the kind of album that is defined by the whole, and not by the individual songs. And it was good. Now they are back as the best name in the business and a serious amount of talent.

Today’s Active Lifestyles continue the definition of Polvo’s unique sound, which consists of making their guitars do things their maker never intended. At times they sound like they’re being tortured but in a sadomasochistic way. Elsewhere it turns downright giddy and you find yourself laughing out loud at sound. Concentrate even further and it all turns into a bizarre ritual with layers upon layers of floating textures. There’s not a lot of range in the vocals, but thats okay because they are addictive and the perfect pitch to sweep you along the rest of the mass. It’s beautiful, and in my perfect world they’d be hanging out in my closet, gigging there every night.

But, who the hell are they? They don’t even credit themselves anywhere on the album. They do have a great picture and credit to their sound man on the back though, and to me, that says it all. –Ivar John Zeile



Bubble & Scrape 

Fuck Pavement, that was last year. Sebadoh is the best thing I’ve heard in years. Maybe that’s because their music sounds like it came from a garage in 1967. It is almost out of a garage. Sebadoh records live to four tracks in a house.

Jason, the main songwriter, claims James Taylor and Jim Croce as influences. The influences are acceptable as far as lyrical content, but I can’t imagine Taylor or Croce using a guitar with fours as the lead instrument.

There is just a little too much psychedelia present in the musical interpretation. Sebadoh gets a nice little pop ditty going only to degenerate into Freak Out!–era The Mothers of Invention.

Don’t stop reading—it isn’t as retro as it sounds. “Elixir is Zog” gets into the tribal thing. “Agitated Radio Pilot” opens like a B-52’s song until Jason kicks in with his punk vocals. There’s a little grunge and some totally intense rhythms. “Forced Love” is good for hair flinging until the sudden tempo change slows things down. “No Way Out” is funk.

“Soul & Fire,” the opening song, is an achingly beautiful folk song capturing all the pain of a broken romance. That one song is worth the price of the CD. Many recordings today put the best song first and then continue down hill to mediocrity. Bubble & Scrape gets better and better all the way through.

This tape is an example of why I love independent labels. A major label wouldn’t touch anything this raw. That is exactly why it is so good: Hi-tech production would ruin the music, A classic if I’ve ever heard one. Better buy it now before a middle-aged guy with a pony tail has them sign a contract. –Wa



Jack Or Jive
Hirsche Nicht Aufs Sofa 

I’ve only recently discovered Dom Records out of Germany and am amazed by what I have heard so far. These two releases represent a wide spectrum of music put out by the label and also are representatives of two dissimilar countries—Japan and Germany.

Japan’s Jack or Jive are an amalgamation of atmospherics, dream pop and Japanese culture into a unique and intensely interesting musical venture. This is their second CD of which I am aware and they continue to astonish and amaze me.

Chako has created her own style of singing, most closely compared to Cranes, but not so easily categorized. She can be at once melodic and discordant, ethereal and disturbing. Her voice rises from perfect pitch to off-key wanderings, nearly shrieks of agony and despair that augment the music and give it a wide range of emotion and vulnerability rarely heard in a recorded format This is one of the most honest and powerful records I’ve heard since the days of The Birthday Party. Pure, raw humanity opened up for all to witness. Disturbing, harrowing, exultant!

H.N.A.S. have mastered the art of sampling and blending sounds, both their own and found, into records of ambiance that could very well be soundtracks for daily life and all its glory, pleasure and ennui. Against them is a mix of the sublime and the chaotic, with minor disturbances creeping into the music unexpectedly and then disappearing again; only to retum in the form of some other aural demon. From their earlier recordings to their latest, H.N.A.S. have become virtuosos at the art of making sense out of chaos and turning it into music. This record may test your idea of what is and isn’t music, but it is much more accessible and beautiful than the more disjoined Nurse With Wound or Hafler Trio types of musicians. –King Ink



Cop Shoot Cop
Ask Question Later 

Cop Shoot Cop’s major label debut on Interscope Records was released 3.30.93. Why do a review now, two months later? Because Ask Questions Later is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. With two basses (one tight and one low) drums, metal, synthesizers, and a voice that drives you crazy, they’ve formed a great combination.

Cop Shoot Cop formed in July of ’88 in a New York basement. They released their first release in January 89, Headkick Fascimile, and their first tour in Japan in Sept ’89. Now with five releases and five years touring, they are becoming a solid outfit that will certainly endure.

The new LP mixes all kinds of elements to create their unique sound. They used violins on “Cut to the Chase,”an army cadence and whistles on “$10 Bill.” This is not your typical industrial band either, in fact trying to categorize Cop Shoot Cop would be quite difficult. They kick ass with talent. Rumor has it they are trying to set up a show now in Salt Lake, so watch the pipers. If they do come, check them out and buy the CD. –RDB


Read more from the SLUG Archives: 
Record Reviews: April 1993 
Concert Reviews: April 1993