The Stiff Sheet: Issue 77, May 1995

The Stiff Sheet: May 1995


Johnette Napolitano
Holly Beth Vincent
Vowel Movement

Well, what can I say? Two of my favorite women, acting like girls and singing about lizards, Easter and dinosaurs all while the tape was running. What more do you want? A baby’s arm holding an apple? Holly and Johnette have been doing serious music with their respective bands for at least 10 years (Concrete Blonde, Holly and The Italians, The Oblivious) and as the story goes, they were drunk and alone on New Years Eve (hard to believe). Feeling saucy, they picked up their instruments and Vowel Movement was consummated. Later, when they recorded the album, they did it in six days. I can only venture a guess as to what they could do given a month. This record is cool. Probably due to the attitude they had going into it. This CD has no ‘best songs’. It is more like a little party from tracks 1-14, which you just listen to and let it do you liike a good spontaneous orgasm. Even if you are not one of us who have been floored by the works of Holly and Johnette, go get “Vowel Movement” and have a ball. You may just find yourself dancing naked in the backyard screaming ‘Viva Las Vegas!’

Ego Tripp: Issue 77, May 1995
Ego Tripp: Issue 77, May 1995


Ego Tripp
A T.O.N. Sampler
T.O.N. Records 

When R.J from T.O.N. Records told me this was going to be a great CD, I took it with a grain of salt, like all writers take all record company hype about upcoming releases. R.J isn’t like that, though, and I guess I should have known better. After listening to Ego Tripp seven or eight times, I wanted to hear each band’s individual records. That’s what a compilation is for, and in this case, it works bigtime. Every song on this CD is a gem! It grabs you from start to finish and only lets go for a minute, to entice you into some new realm of cool. Pygmy Love Circus, Why? Things Burn, and Top Jimmy give awesome renditions of previous and not-yet released material, while the new bands you may not have heard before hit you like a classic slap in the face from James Cagney. Shoegazer’s ‘Beautiful’ and Pink Noise Test’s ‘Echo’ are definite teasers from records to own. Not to mention, ‘Operate’ by Amen, and Elysium doing a sweet, ghostly tune called ‘In Times of Despair’ This disc is as diverse as the people who put it together, and the city and time that it stands for. No pretentious, overdone, hyped up bullshit on ‘Ego Tripp’, which makes the name that much more ironic. This CD will be on heavy rotation at the Maxx Cave, and hopefully much more from our friends at T.O.N.


Fred Reitz Group
Tales From Kher-Aba
Fungoid Matter 

I don’t know how I got this cassette, but I just plopped it in, and got an immediate stiffy. The tape was recored in 1988, and all the songs are cooler than most of the shit recorded in the 90’s. Maybe it’s being re-released. If so, it’s well worth the price of admission just to hear “Pump The Mud”. The singer/bassist/song-writer sometimes sounds like an Arabian hit man packin heat, and other times sounds like he’s got some sort of rash. The songs poke fun at everything from U2 and Ronald Reagan (you can’t have sex now, thrashed about the bum, you can’t shoot heroin, let’s smoke another one…Ronny is) to an AK47 wielding harem cheif crossing the desert in “My Camel and a Sand Dune”. Other great tunes are “Yessum, I Unnastan”, “Was He Your Brother?” and “Miltonous Torpedo,” a little jazz ditty that just kicks ass. The playing is outstanding, and the songs are way too fuckin’ cool. One thing’s for sure, Alex Haig is the cure. What more can I say? Want one? They’re $7.00.


Swoon 23
Famous Swan Song
Tim/Kerr Records 

Don’t know what’s up with the Nico/Velvet craze, but I’ll take it over most of the crap I get any day. Swoon 23 make the CD happen, not so much by what they do, but by what they don’t do. By choosing not to be overproduced and pompous, they lure you into a comfortable groove. Dreamy is a good word, although it’s not quite accurate. The voices of Megan Pickerel and Jeff Studebaker compliment each other very well. Just when you expect to get bored, they throw you a change up. Not with a slap in the face, but a whisper on the back of your neck. Michael Keating lays down some pretty guitar lines on the hollow body while Marty Smith holds an incredible groove, considering there is no bassist. This CD is well done from a minimalistic standpoint. The songs speak for themselves without all the screaming and posturing. So, in the melting pot of euro-dream-pop, Swoon 23 takes the cake and feeds it to you in slow, seductive bites.


The Psyclone Rangers
The Devil May Care
World Domination

The Psyclone Rangers: Issue 77, May 1995
The Psyclone Rangers: Issue 77, May 1995

If I’m not mistaken, ‘Dr. Softness’ is the name of a vibrator. Or, maybe it’s ‘Mr. Softee’. It’s also one of the best songs on this new release from World Domination, The Psyclone Rangers’ “The Devil May Care”. If I’m not mistaken, the guitarist and vocalist on this record listened to a lot of The Velvet Underground and early Iggy Pop. There is probably a very interesting story behind ‘The Psyclone Rangers’ that quotes influences and other bullshit, but fortunately it didn’t make it to the press kit. This is one of those CDs that you just have to listen to to understand. The Devil May Care is full of catchy songs that sound like covers of old tunes from the Raw Power era, except they are new and different, if that makes any sense. Walls of ascending and descending power chords reel throughout vocal lines like “On Sundays, I sell Winstons to the Puerto Ricans” and “She’s a hoosier and a boozer, you should chose her, she’s like 1972” I think that Jonathan Valania is out of his mind. He’s the singer/songwriter from Allentown, PA, where you can kill your family if you don’t like them. That said, I will ask you to remember my admonitions to you: please don’t discuss the disc amongst yourselves, don’t let anyone discuss the disc with you. Don’t form any opinions about the disc until it has been submitted to you. Just buy it, listen to it and shut the hell up. Oh yeah…JONATHAN…It was SO GOOD I FORGOT IT WAS A RECORD!


King Crimson

King Crimson was formed 25 years ago. They have had 17 different members since. They have broken up bands, had members join monasteries, done many projects gracing miles of audio tape, and never had a #1 hit. Quite an accomplishment. Now, they have two drummers, two bassists, two guitarists, and a great new fucking album called Thrak. Get it.


Silver Sweepstakes
Alias Records 

What kind of fool can listen to this band and not get hard? That is the million dollar question that Alias figured out when they signed Knapsack. Here are a few choice words to describe their debut CD “Silver Sweepstakes”, in alphabetical order. Antiform*, Ballsy, Crucial, Direct, Erect, Fast, Gaga, and finally Hole, as in that shitty band that couldn’t hold a candle to this talented foursome. The disc is packed with such hooky songs, you almost want to listen to each one over again,  before going on to the next one. “Cellophane” and “Trainwrecker” are two of the best tunes, but don’t be content, the rest of the songs are every bit as cool, and as full of integrity. I hate saying that a band reminds me of someone else, but if you added some guitar work and melody changes, and a little nineties explosive pop, they would be The Replacements. That is the best compliment I can give Knapsack, by the way.

*Antiform: adj. rejection of accepted materials in creating works of art, with preferences for raw substances.


The Innocence Mission
A&M Records 

I read the bio that was sent with the new The Innocence Mission release Glow. I did not like it. Probably because I listened to the tape every day for a week, and then read the bio. This is an ethereal work of art by a band of structured (or so you might think) songwriters. Unfortunately, this band will be unfairly compared to weaker pop predecessors like The Sundays. They are not. This band does very well what others have only tried to pull off. Their songs are full of interesting stories of sad little trysts, some wrought with apathy, while others scream of passion and foreboding joy. While that sounds a little pretentious it rings true throughout this album. Each song evokes its own special mood, with words that play off subtle changes in melodies that are as good as it gets in this medium. “Bright as Yellow” is a wonderful example, “Brave” is  another. As strong as I can put it, this new Innocence Mission release is well worth the price of admission. It flows like a big glass of ice tea on a hot Sunday, to a bottle of wine on a cool October night. I’d tell you more about the band, but you should just buy Glow, read the inside cover, and make your own decision.


1995 Sampler
Sh-mow Records 

Last time I was in Colorado, someone asked me who Henry Rollins was. Man, have things changed. This CD is chock full of awesome tunes from a bunch of soon-to-be somebodys in a town where snow bunnies are the main topic of conversation. Now, they have much to talk about. Christie Front Drive, IZ, Baldo Rex, Small Dog Frenzy, Smackjacket, St. Andre, Idle Mind, Grimace, Wretched Refuse, Jay Munly, The Reejers, and High Seasons. All of these bands deserve mentioning, because they were all outstanding in their own unique way. Each song holds its own next to the others, without being repetitive and categorized. If I had to pick a gem off this disc, it would be difficult, but I’d have to say it’s a tossup between “Bag” by Christie Front Drive, “Seamster Scenester” by Grimace, and “Edge of a Lull” by Small Dog Frenzy (a band I’d love to review). Look for sh-more sh-mow sh-tuff sh-oon, until then, buy this CD or be a dumb ass. Your choice.


Sugar Ray
Lemonade and Brownies
Atlantic Records 

Don’t know much about Sugar Ray, but the first song makes you think they’re some sort of Style Council ripoff, until the intro to the hard ass-kickin “Rhyme Stealer”. Then, this foursome takes off with some of the coolest shit I’ve heard since umm, uh, a long time. There’s some way hip tunes on “Brownies and Lemonade“, highlights being “lron Mic”, “Big Black Woman” and my favorite, “Danzig Needs a Hug”. They dabble in many areas, from the soulish “Hold Your Eyes” to the hard/funk pseudo’ bang of “The Greatest”. Sugar Ray does everything so well, it sounds like every genre they delve into is their forte. They never get too redundant that they begin to sound like someone else. What a killer band. Get this album now, so that you can say you were listening to them before they became huge. There’s also a little boner, I mean bonus on the cover. It’s a famous woman, who’s wearing nothing but a post orgasm smile. I can’t tell you who it is, but you can figure it out for yourself. Hint: It’s not Hillary Clinton.


C.J. Chenier And The Red Hot Louisiana Band
Too Much Fun
Alligator Records 

This band and CD could not be more aptly named. Too Much Fun is a huge understatement. C.J. Chenier’s Alligator debut release made me want to run to New Orleans, drink wicked ale, and dance ‘till I puke. His incredible blues/melodic singing is only matched by his mastery of the zydeco accordion. That’s right, I said accordion. This is one of those records you just listen to, absorb the cool lyrics, and let the music astonish you, as it starts out cool with the classic “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” and gets progressively better, all the way to “Louisiana Two Step”. A definite jewel to add to your collection of CDs you’ll never trade in, even when you’re dead, broke and out of smokes.


Archers of Loaf
Vee Vee
Alias Records 

“The underground is overcrowded.” No shit. Archers wrote that, I didn’t, but it sure as hell rings true through Vee Vee, their new Alias release. I like this disc a lot, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s their total disregard for structured songwriting. Maybe it’s their sense of humor. Maybe I just like it because I think Wendy is a babe. All I know is that if you are sick of listening to hyped shit records from the BIG MUSIC COMPANY Sony, then Archers of Loaf will keep your attention span reeling just like the first time you heard Gang of Four, or your first heated exchange with a partially-clad high school grad.


The Leaving Trains
Drowned and Dragged
SST Records 

At first, I thought “A new Leaving Trains CD! Cool”. It’s not. It’s cooler, because it is previously unheard stuff from 1989, only released as a teaser for a NEW Trains project. Fuckin A. If you don’t know about this band, you should move out of the monastery. If you do, then you know most of the history of this early 80s punk/pop band that remains as timeless as anyone in LA. Names like Falling James, Sluts For Hire, Sam Melmick, Bobby Belltower, Dennis Carlin, Eric Stringer, Earle Mankey, The Gun Club, and The Cramps come to mind. The Trains are a huge part of that history. We won’t even get into some of the history, that’s a hole I’d rather stay away from. But the disc is a great piece from a period you may have missed in the So-Cal post-punk-whatever diary of LA., and it’s heroes/heroines. You should own it solely for that connection. It just happens to be a very cool CD on top of that. Hey, you’re on the bonus plan.

Read more from the SLUG archives here:
Shadowplay: January 2025
Concert Review: Hi Fi and The Roadburners