Record Reviews: March 1992
I’m not quite sure what to make of the latest from one of my all-time favorites here. I pretty much slagger their leader over this outfit’s lack of identity. This time around, however, I’m hard-pressed to fire off a round of fancy critical hyperbole.
Quite simply, this pre-release is a very fine effort. The only problem is what continues to be Iceburn’s ongoing affliction; lack of a strong vocalist. Gentry’s attempts are a bit more palpable than his predecessor, yet they’re buried in the mix so that they are unintelligible.
Musically, the Iceburn, guys are a very impressionable lot. Winter is a really incredible song that would be absolutely astounding if there were some sort of vocal foundation. Spellbinding compositions of this nature need some sort of focal point.
Despite the shitty packaging, the production content is very solid. It’s one of the finer recordings to do justice to an SLC band. My suggestion is for these dudes to get a singer and sit back into the groove they are quite capable.
The Best of Times
Contrary to popular belief, “black” bands like Fishbone aren’t the only ones that can blend ska and hardcore into a cohesive whole—in fact, they might not even be the best at it.
New York’s Murphy’s Law, four wise-ass white boys, have been nearly anonymously producing extremely competent ska/funk/hardcore/metal music on two independently released albums. Now Murphy’s Law has returned for perhaps their best effort yet. Though Fishbone’s John Fisher and brother Phillip are at the production helm, the tone for the album is pure Murphy’s Law. Dispensing with some of the cloying cuteness that bogged down early efforts, the bend instead goes for the jugular.
“Did You Play War?” is as good as anti-war hardcore gets, while “Big Spliff” and “Hemp for Victory” continues the Murphy’s Law obsession with ganja and good-natured jibes at the Rasta lifestyle. Best of all, a nearly tune-less cover of “Ebony and Ivory” (abetted by Fishbone’s Angelo Moore) shows the band hasn’t lost its humor but is using it more creatively. Give thanks and praise the Lord…
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
More Noise and Other Disturbances
Those self-proclaimed purveyors of “Satan’s ska” the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, are back with their second LP release, More Noise and Other Disturbances, and—surprise!—it’s even better than the first.
The album blasts off from the first song, “Awfully Quiet” and proceeds to display the Bosstones at their very best, blending ska horns and beat with a hardcore sound that is infectious and practically demands skanking.
The best numbers on the effort are the rollicking “He’s Back” and “It Can’t Hurt” (both of which, coincidentally, were featured on the Bosstones’ Converse ad). Both tunes feature and even exploit the band’s strengths: gravelly-voiced singer Dicky Barrett and the stellar horn section (Kevin Lenear, Dennis Brockenborough, and Tim Burton). The result is a powerful, near-mystical experience.
The band also manages to send a message to self-important critics who feel that ska is “too lightweight and unimportant” with “Guns and the Young.” The song ridicules our gun-crazed society with the inclusion of a sampling of Elmer Fudd (message to the sub-morons in the N.R.A.? You bet).
Admittedly, there are some lapses on the album like the inexplicable “Cowboy Coffee” in which the group dabbles with a little psychedelia. In addition, the LP ends with more of a whimper than a bang, but perhaps that only seems to be the case since the listener may be exhausted from the intensity of the music. Even when the Bosstones start going on too long with the harder sounds, a horn blare or two salvages everything.
Overall, More Noise and Other Disturbances is a more mature and experienced effort than Devil’s Night Out, the previous Bosstones’ release. If the first single “Where’d You Go?: gets some deserved airplay, the band may be primed for a breakout with their joyous tune-making. Despite their raging sound, the Bosstones may just be the most entertaining singers of ska besides New York’s Toasters. A solid and highly entertaining effort.
The World Inside
Only one word is needed to describe this album. Human Drama’s first release on Triple X is an amazing mixture of “emotional intensity,” heavy, brooding vocals, and instruments. Acoustic guitar, cello, flute, and violin, combined with Patrick Mata’s (Kommunity FK, Sativa Luv Box) right voice and heart-wrenching lyrics are the main content in The World Inside.
The feeling portrayed throughout this album is almost startling. Each song contains a story all its own, the message is always clear. Human Drama has created a new world—a strangely emotional one.
The only fucking band that matters anymore is proof positive you can stay angry all the time. I’ve found that even in the worst of times, Poison Idea still manages quite well to retain their title as “Kings of Punk.”
The 15-song set here catches the world’s loudest drunks in action at the Metropol in Hengelo on 3/23/91. Since most live recordings such balls, it’s a surprise to hear an exception to the norm. There’s a little crowd participation (excluding the asshole who howls through “Taken By Surprise”) and a clean sound throughout the entire performance.
“Spooky” is probably the last word that one would use to describe the first proper album by England’s Lush. Last year’s Gala was merely a compilation of three EPs, packaged for American listeners. With Spooky Lush takes on a new dimension, experimenting with new sounds and rhythms within their ethereal web-weaving.
Lush’s broad appeal is most likely due to their approach to music. Led by Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi, Lush combines straightforward rock n’ roll with ringing vocals and melodic guitar sounds. The result is music that washes over you as it moves you. Subtle, yet powerful, Lush is gaining more notoriety in America and keeping its foothold in the European market.
Spooky has already produced two singles, “Nothing Natural” and “For Love,” both of which are receiving airplay on even more commercial radio stations across the country. With the addition of ex-Felt bassist Phil King and the continued support of Chris Acluand on drums, it looks like the time is now for Lush; Spooky or not.
Flux is the newest addition to the Salt Lake “scene” and is a two-person project featuring Katrina Bakker on vocals, toy whistle, some drum programming and Ben Oswald on guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals and other instruments.
The tape is reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins circa Victorialand, with chiming guitars laid under rich vocal textures and limited instrumentation. Both Flux members are extremely talented, as shown on this excellent and well-produced recording. What’s lacking here is any real innovation. Flux seems to be stuck in a genre, spinning circles within a concentric circle, but not really breaking out into new or unexplored musical territory. I love this tape and would highly recommend that you readers purchase it. But next time, Flux, stretch yourselves and move forward with your talent.
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