June 1990: Local National Record Tape Reviews
Hot off the presses (literally, as the review copy of this album was an unlabeled test pressing) comes the first recording efforts from one of the city’s better bands, Wondercrash.
The six cuts—three each from ThisSide and ThatSide—are a strong collection, accurately representing the quartet’s original approach and driving blend of garage rock and modern music. Dave Bagley handles vocals and guitar with Jon Bray on bass, Chris Camberlango playing guitar and Jamie Shuman behind the drums.
A loss of definition in the mix keeps the instruments hidden in the background for the first two songs, but that sound is corrected by the last tune— “Train Song”—,as well as inthe flip. Good lyric imagery is combined with appealing guitar chords in a mid-tempo arrangement on what is the most gentle of the record’s songs.
Wondercrash’s vocals are reminiscent of early The Mothers of Invention, and they come off well here, especially on the opener, “Bitter Quips,” which opens roughly with solid bass and stinging guitar lines. Surreal second vocals over a guitar burn add dimension to “Happy Nightmare.”
The deceptively-soft, acoustic guitar intro on “Roses” is munched well when the hard-edged electric kicks in.But it’s hard to beat “Corner Song” as a jamming rock assault—the lyric reception of this finisheris offset by the biting guitar work andits psychedelic overtones.
Join Wondercrash June 15 at Cinema In Your Face for their record release party. Also releasing an album that evening will be Commonplace, making for a good double bill of local music. –J.P. Gabellini
Not to be confused with Taylor Dane. This album has some pretty good guitar that’s marred by extremely weak vocals. I wish the guy would scream once in a while. The lyrics are as good as almost anything L.A. Guns ever wrote. They even use the expression “hot mama” which I haven’t heard since Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded.” Dane reminds me of Seattle’s Shotgun Mama. Save your money and check out Truce or Slaughterchrist for the real shit. –Phil Harmonic
If you like 45 minutes of quiet bass guitar and loud saxophone solos, you’ll like this … I don’t. –Phil Harmonic
Technique Before Compassion
It’s evident that these boys have plenty of technique—the musicianship is excellent on this self-released tape, although production varies from pretty good to poor. Side one really gets me going with the Potatohead connection of John Morris’ solid vocals and crisp drumming by Jon Clark. The instrumental side suffers from Yngwie fever at times but overall, this is a great debut from a rising local band. –Phil Harmonic
I had no idea people were still doing this kind of music (let alone buying it), especially in a group like Social Distortion. They probably never suspected they’d be doing it to this degree either, until they were picked up by a major label. Rockabilly is the current angle spewing from the band, and they’re spewing it with style and zest.
This type of music has never been on the top of my list, but Social Distortion’s self-titled album is interesting enough to be listenable, and I suspect damn fine in a live setting. A little faster paced than most in the genre makes for a rather upbeat effort that can really creep up on you, as on the high points “Sick Boys” and the follow-up cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
The lyrics are nothing too impressive, what with all the rhyming and repeating going on, but the delivery by Mike Ness’ roughly hewn voice gives them credibility, especially with the occasional tinge that harkens to the past. The most enjoyable aspect of the tunes is definitely the steady, disjointed cadence of the rhythm guitar and bass, pronounced almost to the perfect degree. As repetitive as it gets, it keeps the set together well—laying ground for the occasional inspired lead solo.
The band is probably trying to locate a bigger audience with this release, and may just do so with the right promotion and adequate live delivery. Altogether enjoyable in a social setting, however, I still suspect this record might grow old with a few spins. –John Zeile
Repeater is the name, and probably a rather symbolic one at that. Perhaps a statement on music in general, or maybe it’s just one of the tracks. It could represent the repetition of lyrics in the songs, or even the revival of an early track by the name “Reprovisional.” However you construe it, it’s still fresh, exciting and a progression for the band. As Fugazi’s first full-length release, the album is quite a departure upon first listen. Their two previous EPs make an impact quickly—driving the stability and playfulness of the songs straight to your head. Repeater’s sound is the same (and quite hard to describe or categorize) but slower in developing its appeal. There aren’t really any tracks that cut above the rest, but that’s as it should be because as a whole it’s a solid album. Each track must be listened to closely and reckoned with to enjoy the full impact of the band.
The music is very controlled and thoughtful, yet biting at every twist and turn. The ability of the band as musicians is obvious, and their skill combines perfectly with Ian MacKaye’s lucid, powerful vocals. Lyrically, the band is mature and progressing in the right direction, making their statement and having fun while doing it. Check them out June 6 at Speedway Cafe. –John Zeile