Mavis's Dream Five


links / credits



Jason Thornberry has reviewed loads of new CDs for us...cheers Jason!

MICHAEL PSYCHO "Never" (Black Hole)
This was so amazingly horrible my ears bled. What's shocking is that somebody at a label actually sat through this entire thing (without a pistol in their mouth), and then said "Yeah, I'll put thousands of my company's hard-earned dollars into reproducing and distributing this! No problem!" Michael Psycho starts this magnum opus off with a pointless intro called The Day I Failed The Majors, and goes straight into your favorite 1 a.m. bar rawk, with drum machines so sloppy, and poorly played they could only remain humorous if they were done by the Boredoms, Half Japanese, Wesley Willis, or someone else "uniquely bizarre" so I knew it was intentional.I laughed so hard listening to this I choked on my dinner, and almost barfed on the cat.

He actually has the audacity to brag in the lil' clipping sent with this disc/frisbee to boast about it being "completely recorded, produced, written, performed, mixed, mastered, planned, funded, and pimped and pandered by Michael Psycho". He also wastes paper with his boring philosophy about why music sucks nowadays (zzz). Here's an idea: keep that job at the paint store, dude! Instead of shelling out ca$h for your fruitless little hobby, finish getting your mini-truck customized! He flips me off from the cover of the cd/projectile. Such a rebel! I'll bet Mr. And Mrs. Psycho (What's that, French?) are beaming.

QUASIMOTO "The Unseen" (Stones Throw)
I slept on this release, and didn't actually hunt for it until I read reviews calling it one of the best albums (hip-hop or otherwise) of last year.

Quasimoto is a apparently some kind of anteater looking little dude. The Stones Throw website has a photo of the chap, and he appears to be a bit like one of my old stuffed animals. But he has skills.

Madlib, of the amazalistic, super-duper Lootpack, got invited along on this twenty-four track hip-hop excursion into waters most emcees are afraid to touch. "I like anything that turns shit green." That's why people think I'm into some weak-ass, watered-down piss when I wear my Hieroglyphics Imperium t-shirt on campus. Terms like 'bizarre', or 'odd' don't even get close to this layers-deep exploration into audio absurdity, and creativity that works about 93% of the time, which is a lot better than when anybody else tries to be 'weird'. I'm actually not so sure Quasimoto is actually trying very hard. Rather than wildin' out, or jockin' the bitches, he's "a soldier in the town drinking Butterflly Snapple. I'm walking round the street handing out poison apples."

No delusions of hardness here. Speaking of which, I know of a particular emcee who loves to spin yarns about how he's a bad mu'fuckah from the streets of (blank). Meanwhile, he's immensely
wealthy, and lives in a mansion, in an extreeemely suburban, ivy covered, white-bread college town, where there's a cop on almost every corner. Having lived, for a time, in both places myself (the one he 'represents', and the one where he gets his mail sent) I'm almost physically ill when I see his puh-thetic mug looking up at me in contrived contempt from the cover of one of his awful cd's. Yeah! Put down the caviar, climb out of your jacuuzi, grab a gat, and smoke my ass, you dick!

I'm tempted to liken The Unseen to a hip-hop Trout Mask Replica, but Quas has to get in line behind Kool Keith first, and nearly any project he gets near (especially Dr. Octagon).

Going back to The Unseen being an expedition of sorts, one of the best songs on this album (Return of the Loop Digga) pauses while Madlib ventures into a record shop, and catches the clerk off guard by when he actually appears to know what he's talking about for a change, rather than "You got that song that goes doot-doot-dooooot, doo, doot-doot-dooooot!?"

The production seems to have been vastly important here, and is interesting all by itself. Dr. Octagonecologyst got a nice 'instruments only' album, with a slight remix, as the nuances of the vocals were no longer crucial. I think an Unseen remix is justified too now. I know I'd listen to it, and probably put even more of it on my answering machine than I have right now.

This album did peter out toward the end, but I really feel like 20 of the 24 songs were strong enough to find me with the a case of the double take's, and replaying certain tracks, even though I knew I was hearing quotes (like: "tryin' to do what we do, we livin' like 'What?', some niggaz can't even keep their mouth off my nuts") correctly the first three times I played them.

You know, you may have been sleeping too. Go straight on back to that record shop, trade in that wack, commercialized, thug bullshit you bought just because of that Hoochies in Heat video clip, and grab a copy of this before it disappears into someone else's collection.

RAW TEXT "Never Judge A Book" (Asha)
With mic skills in English, Spanish, and Spanglish two hard boiled, rogue emcees came together with a whole new spin on the Hispanic Hip-Hop made popular by Funkdoobiest, Delinquent Habits, Cypress Hill, and Ozomatli.

After things went sour for a deal with Ruffhouse/Columbia Records, Gusto, one half of Raw Text, parted company with his old crew, and went to work on some solo projects. Meanwhile, Spits, the other cipher, was doing, more or less, the same thing: looking for 'it'.

'It' came in the form of jobs working with rapper Af The King, after they had already hooked up, and started making the demos that would make up a chunk of the Raw Text live show, eventually getting hold of the mic on Lovely from his excellent Torture Taught Ya' album. He spins with almost as much authority as he has on the microphone, and proves this with his guest cuts on Gimme Da' Mic.

Spits and Gusto will "verbally abuse ya like a white-trash biker kid" on any of the sixteen tracks on this praiseworthy, highly qualified debut cd.

The most re-playable tracks here include Accessory Ta' Murder, In It For Life, I Love It, the Open Mic Nite set, My World, Pay Dues, and What'cha Want? with co-producer Angela Piva's sultry vocals. The bonus is the live instrumentation that gets mixed imperceptibly with the cut up, funky, hip hop score. Recommended!
Angela Piva

FREDDIE FOXXX "Industry Shakedown" (KJAC/Landspeed)
The man known as Bumpy Knuckles is infamous for stepping into an actual boxing ring somewhere, and wearing several other emcees out. When he tells you he'll "slap you in your mouth, and your drinks'll be un-sippable" you know in your bones that he isn't some studio gangsta like Chris Rock in CB4. He'll "beat you down and send yr ass home" if necessary.

What struck me first about "Industry Shakedown" were the lyrics. Despite the copious flow of braggadocio, and the impending threat that his furious fists were gonna eventually make their way through my stereo speakers to work me over Bumpy is actually a funny guy. In the same way that I thought The Exorcist was a really dark comedy, I feel like Industry Shakedown has its moments where I laugh at the thought of him about to "hunt a nigga down like the Predator". I certainly wouldn't say to his face that I thought some of this record made me bust up, because I wouldn't want him to ever think I was laughing at him. Like Ray Liotta in Good Fellas, I'll backpedal and tell you now that I think his delivery, and witty, whole-hearted, and unflinching belief in what he says is occasionally quite humorous. You try listening to this and not smiling! "I do it to young niggaz, old niggaz, rock niggaz, soul niggaz..."

Bumpy makes rap seem dangerous at a time when most of the so-called competition is just flavorless "soft shit, like velour". Yes, rap has unfortunately succumbed. It's as played out as Alternative and Indie Rock have both become now that most of the "Indie" sensations are recording for labels big enough to afford big Christmas Bonuses for their A&R's whose artists recoup.

I became a fan of all things hip-hop in about the third grade, a few years before Run DMC spit Hard Times. Rap was on shaky ground then. Scary, relatively obscure. It was often compared to Disco, which at that time was going strong. I memorized Rapper's Delight, and never thought I'd see the day when rap music was being used to sell soft drinks. Bumpy apparently is disgusted by commercial hip-hop too.

In a time when the whole notion of "keeping it real" has just become a hollow cliche, and cats who "rep-ruh-zented" are living the good life, far, far away from that beam of light from the police helicopter. When "thugs" sport their own clothing lines, and strike poses for rabid photographers as they leave Places To Be Seen with their Supermodel girlfriends Bumpy Knuckles steps in to examine the ghetto pass of playas while they're waiting to get their own t.v. sitcoms.

I'll mention the guest work that the mighty DJ Premier (from Gang Starr) did, as well as The Alchemist, Pete Rock, M.O.P., and Diamond D, but unlike some rap albums that keep things padded with a string of guests so the project'll stay afloat, this is cd *belongs to Freddie Foxxx. This was a full contact listening experience, and one of the best, most assured debut rap albums ever.

EXIT HUMAN "Arvada" (Direct Hit)
Arvada is a soundscape that's not too far removed from Nurse With Wound or an even more bugged out Herbie Hancock. This band dresses up for this little party too, complete with partially a shaved head and beard on one guy so it looks like a big donut landed on his head while he was pen to paper for the ditty Kill All Humans. When one of the duo changes their name to Raldron you know something's not quite there.

This cd's a bit like being trapped inside an old Atari 2600 game. I used to spend hours as a little kid playing Missile Command, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and other quirky games full of bleeps, blips and bloops. I actually enjoyed this album. Well recorded, and with some good femme vocals too. The piano seemed to stand out from the more modern keys (and I am NOT old fashioned), and guitar is used sparingly. It also sounds like there could be some cuts (scratching, dj'ing, turntablism) in there as well.

I don't know why it just popped into my head just now, but the sheer wackiness of this group's Modus Operandi brought to mind an episode of that 1980's t.v. show Moonlighting. Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis are seated in a Mexican restaurant when a trio of mustachioed men holding acoustic guitars arrives at the table and burst into song. Willis leans toward them and smirks.

"You guys know any Sabbath?"

THE BRUISERS "Better Days" (Taang!)
Awww, man... Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water The Bruisers release another one! I reviewed their last effort (In the Pit - Live & Rare), and was fairly courteous when I deemed it: "A pointless collection of this crappy, macho group's brand of regurgitated Oi meets sweaty beef street-punk. I've always thought bands like this played such shockingly derivative music by GUYS for GUYS, because they have painfully small whammers, and looked upon their own concerts as therapy sessions." I'll bet at least half of this band owns a couple of those huuuge, American pickup trucks with absolutely nothing being hauled in the back. A friend of mine says that vehicles like that are an extension of their owner's manhood. Or lack thereof.

On to the alleged "songs" on Better Days: Will someone puh-leeze ask the singer to find a key and stay in it?! Or take some vocal lessons and smoke less! They've only just begun their voyage into The Gates of Hell (track five) and I feel ready to vomit copiously into my stereo. They should make death row prison inmates listen to the collected works of this outfit continuously. When the axe falls, the rope tightens, the switch is pulled or they finally get that lethal injection it will seem like a tender mercy. They'll smile as life exits their being. "Free at last! No more having to hear Messed Up, Forty Miles of Bad Road, or Mainliner!" Evil behaviors will decrease substantially if you merely whisper to those having criminal tendencies the possibilities of playing them a single verse from any song off of Better Days.

Now I know why The Bruisers (probably) headline tours of those aromatic nightclubs that let the bands perform until "last call". Places where the audience is just drunk enough that a gibbon could spring up onto the bar counter, encircle the patron's faces with his nappy ass-flesh and cut really boisterous, really wet farts into their open mouths. What's the difference between experiencing that and being subjected to this compact disc? Probably not a whole lot. At least I got a free drink the last time the ape-thing happened. As far as the latter goes, the doorman would probably like for me to pay him to watch The Bruisers. Rather than the other way around.

I guess this'd be a fantastic soundtrack to life in a trailer park, or if you have an IQ anywhere below 80 and think your sister is looking H.O.T. these days.

BIRDIE " Some Dusty" (Kindercore)
My friend Dorothy loaned me this cd the other day. She's always attempting to drag me to these K Recs/Kindercore/Grrrl shows where there's three women on various guitars and keyboards, then perhaps a token guy on drums on a shaky stage or a living room rug. It usually isn't very good, but since it's (shhh!) feminist rock I'm not supposed to take notice of the fact that they can barely play, and would make The Shaggs seem like, say, The Cars, or any other semi-musically accomplished band you would care to name. I went to one such show where straight away the lead vocalist yelled "Okaaay! All you men! Go stand in the back. Give us some room! We're strong women. We don't need you anyway!" Then she said something about "Girl Power", failing to notice how much that behavior was really like Bruce Springsteen, or Jon Bon Jovi, or any other *MALE giving his all on a spiel that night. The Boss between songs: "You know, when I was a kid, growing up in Jersey." Whoever She Was: "You know, when I was a kid, growing up in Olympia.".

That was in 1994. Before Dorothy. Back when Bikini Kill were crankin' out the songs alongside The Fakes, Milky Wimpshake, and Huggy Bear (who's Taking The Rough With The Smooch is one of my top 100 albums despite the fact that because I own a penis, and the tunes are supposed to go over my head). "Riotgrrrl" was a possibility back then. A few albums produced in that time actually caught my attention as being pretty innovative and catchy in ways I had never really thought of before. Unfortunately, for every one good record there were at least five others that skated by on nouveau-hippie posturing, blinkered, silly idealism, and shite, or non-existent songwriting.

Anyway, that was then. This is not to try and drag Birdie into the whole Riotgrrrl/sloganeering feminist propaganda machine that "indie rock" flirted with in the nineties. But, unfortunately, if girls like Dorothy can identify with Birdie, and at the same time stand in line to buy tickets to see Bratmobile, then this group could quickly find themselves stigmatized, or type-cast as 'cuddly', or 'twee', but also not very
*proficient. To Birdie's credit they actually do know how to play their guitars,, and even throw in violin, cello, viola, mellotron and trumpet,. And there's actually only really three girls in this seven piece band. 'Debsy', however, is the only member of Birdie allowed on the cover. She plays about twenty different instruments on Some Dusty so I guess she's earned it. Opening the cd jacket I notice two of her compatriots pictured, but where are the other four? Do they have terrible Limp Bizkit jock-on-probation style? Or beards? Flab? Explosive relief-map acne maybe?

I liked the production on Some Dusty quite a bit, which was not so much lo-fi as it was vintage-fi, with a warmth to the whole thing that I'm positive bands spend millions of dollars trying to capture in big studios in L.A. Overall this is a decent debut, but not anything I'll be looking for on my own. The vocals were somewhat one-dimensional, fatigued, and the whole band sounded a bit bored. Like they couldn't wait to get finished being sensitive and go back to covering Loverboy.

B.R.M.C. "Black Rebel Motorcycle Club" (Virgin)
I think my friends have good taste, so I when I overheard Love Burns with that very hooky chorus in the salon I go to I asked who it was. I got the cd a few days later and have since had several songs become wedged in my skull.

This San Francisco trio creates a dark, and morose at times soundscape that hangs precariously on overcast, joyless but melodic guitar lines. This debut has a rather dingy and gray sound quality, though all of the performances are distinct. If the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album had been released in a day-glo sleeve with the band members dressed as clowns immersed in a smiling birthday cake fight I'd still be calling this a dark album.

Named after Marlon Brando's rough and trumble gang in the 1950 film The Wild One this group are able to evoke the gloom of Joy Division with the collated dissonance of The Jesus & Mary Chain and the sarcasm of early Cure. Recommended. Standouts include Awake, Love Burns, Red Eyes and Tears, Rifles, the Lennon-ish Head Up High and Salvation.

MELLOW "Another Mellow Spring" (Cyber Octave)
With two previous efforts under their belt Mellow step into this record with a similar mindset and much the same overall feel that 1999's Another Mellow Winter had. As this cd is potentially a prelude to the Mellow take on summer I'll look forward to that. Fans of early Pink Floyd atmospherics and duo Air (minus the Supply) and Lull (Mick Harris) take note. It would be oddly humorous if this band charged out on track one with double bass, palm mutes and praises to the Dark One, but Mellow basically stays true to their name. There are eleven tracks here with three versions of one named after the band itself. Instant Love is my favorite.

GEGGY TAH "Into The OH" (Virgin/Luaka Bop)
File this album under "G", because Geggy Tah are actually Pomona California's most popular triplets, who have as much in common with the cerebral pop of XTC as They Might Be Giants or even Devo.

You'd be hard pressed to pin them down to a single style on Into The OH, or on their two previous albums Sacred Cow and Grand Opening. They're clever without being cheeky about it, like on Special Someone, where Geggy Tah are like a far less excruciating Paul Simon playing a choice number from Randy Newman's songbook and backed by E.L.O.

This entire album is worthy of repeat listens, particularly Sweat, Goodnight To The Machine (where the sound of a telephone receiver coming down gently becomes an unlikely backbeat), Aliens Somewhere, One Zero, I Forgot, and Holly Oak. Highly recommended.

THE ARROGANTS "Your Simple Beauty" (Shelflife)
Much to my dismay this band have recently packed it in. At least they ended on a high creative note. Somber, but elegant and dreamy pop by one of the few Orange County (Calif.) bands who didn't high-five the front row at their concerts. The best moments of The Red House Painters, Cocteau Twins, and very early Cranberries (sans the Zombie bombast) get highlighted here, and at the end of what turns out to be too short of a cd (good sign) you're left with Lovesick, which gets an acoustic re-appraisal as an appended bonus. It's far, far, farrr better than the quick, skippity, punkish tempo the original version has as track three, and there's a line singer Jana Wittren does that I played over and over last night as I typed, rigid and wired. Maybe it was the coffee? Don't think so. Fantastic. Tortuously brief. Indispensable. &

CAMPGROUND EFFECT "self titled" (Glue Factory)
Fountain Valley California is the home of this trio who take the pomposity out of the newer breed of struggling guitarock pilgrims and injects their eleven song debut with actual songs! There are a few brief flashes of that dreaded thing some refer to as "Emo", but they flew by before I could hit the <FWD> button on my stereo. Here's to album number two. Emo-Snore is already dead and buried. "Over", so I'm looking forward to the next. My favorites: Famous-Like, Still Life (not a remake of the Iron Maiden song), Take and Last Half Champions with that cool prelude. I'd recommend this one.

DAFT PUNK "Discovery"
I haven't heard a single album that utilizes the vocoder as effectively as 1988's Cacophony by Rudimentary Peni until now. If you only previously made time for bands clutching sweaty guitars this could (should) be your introduction to house music. When you hear somebody say "French duo" you immediately think of Air, right? How about Shiny Parisian Automatons? Seriously. Formed in 1992, this pair of DJ's (Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) were quickly swept up in a bidding war, before Virgin issued 1997's Homework. The best disco hits you never heard get sliced, diced, filtered through an ocean of different effects, and are transformed on Discovery, which is catchier than the flu in a crowded elevator in mid February.

BUCK 65 "Man Overboard" (Anticon)
I was doing my usual afternoon routine, digging thru piles of dusty forgotten records and cd's at this local music shop when I heard the intro to Battery by Metallica. Six somber notes. Then I heard it again. And again. And again. With some drums underneath. Some guy was dropping rhymes about "having a head like a rat's nest", and being "harder than a math test". Then his voice aged forty years, he became Wilford Brimley, and went on about being an "amateur coin collector, John Q. Taxpayer. Shy around girls with my face all scarred. The only thing in my wallet is a baseball card".

"What the fuck is this?" I asked the girl behind the counter.

"We just got it. Buck 65."

"I'm havin' it!"

Took the very cd she was playing over their little P.A. home with me and haven't had it out of my stereo (except to temporarily transfer it to the boombox on top of the toilet so I can listen in the shower) since.

Hailing from Nova Scotia producer/emcee Buck 65 (named after his weight) used to Deejay for the Biz (Markie) and the Beastie Boys, and now creates his own cuts and drop some verses that effortlessly stand way out in today's hip-hop climate, which has become fairly sodden with tired macho clichés and self conscious, chest-inflated grandstanding. I guess it's been that way since it all started, but Buck 65 can make it almost painful to listen to some other rappers. It's only when you hear stuff that's truly different that the regular shit seems so last year. Weary. Insipid. Stale.

I' d love to tell you how great that song about his mother is. She died from breast cancer and Man Overboard is dedicated to her, but there aren't any song titles, so if you're lucky enough to snag a copy of this (most likely at a small independent shop, since Buck 65's not likely to be on Empty-Vee any time soon) it's Track Nine. I'd give you my list on which tracks to skip to, but that's take the fun out of it. Make your own list. Maybe you can trade in your Poop Soggy Frogg collection for this or Buck 65's Vertex album.

Man Overboard is one of the best albums of 2001.
Any genre. Hands down.

DROPKICK MURPHY'S/THE BUSINESS "Mob Mentality" split cd (Taang!)
Before I even plopped this shiny lil' disc into my stereo I knew I probably wouldn't like it very much: I saw the Smurphy's a few years ago on the Van's Warped Tour. Ozomatli and Eminem were great! Both of the bands included here on Mob Mentality crank out (assembly line style) masculine, sweaty, Caucasian, working-class (that's a nice way of saying they don't really seem like rocket scientists) hawwwd-coahhh, Oi-ish, rock 'n roll. The title track is the two bands helping each other play a four chord, shite snooze-a-thon with grouchy, shouted choruses that sounded like my fat-bastard dad bitching from the couch the day our air-conditioner broke. Mob Mentality gets done again at the very end of this twelve song trip to Hell, and I was about to congratulate the boys on actually being able to play the fucker twice, but this version sounds exactly like the original go-round.

I did like the Dropkick's cover of The Who song (The Kid's Are Alright), and I found them to be a bit less sleep-inducing than The Business who were all work and no play. Is there some law I'm not privy to, where if you audition to sing for an "Oi" band you have to be fucking tone deaf?

Pound for pound both bands are decent at what they do, but this sounded played out in 1985 when I first really heard punk rock. Oooh!!! Both bands have their names superimposed on beer logos so I'll be sure to mention that they'd probably enjoy it if you passed any of them a good Irish stout at their next gig. Now that's unique! D+, douchebags.

DROWNINGMAN "Rock and Roll Killing Machine" (Revelation)
Am I just getting old finally? Black Flag's White Minority was my introduction to punk rock back in 1985. It was on a very well-worn cassette copy of the soundtrack to The Decline of Western Civilization with the Flag, Germs, Fear, X, and several other amazing (original) bands. Yeah, you can call me an old fogey or a record snob when I say that punk is now as dead as it could possibly be, but think for a minute. Tell me you've never seen a fourteen year old with a Crass t-shirt on!? Little Bobby plunks down $21.50 of his mowing-the-lawn cash but knows too little about the band to even realize that paying that much for a band shirt is against everything Crass ever stood for! I just a Germs t-shirt in a rack at the fucking mall! Yeah fuckface, wear it and pretend you understand: "Dood! My mom saw this band when I was still in her stomach! My very first haircut was a Mohawk!"

What does my rambling have to do with Drowningman? Everything unfortunately. When I read the bio enclosed with this here cd that finds the band "at a new level" I got nostalgic. What, were the members of this outfit maybe all of about five when when Black Flag (the last "punk" band) played their final show (in Detroit, MI, June 27th) in 1986? Even Greg. Henry, and co. stopped being punk about two years prior, after Bill Stevenson left. I think Bill even grew a beard. Yeah, punk came and went.

As much as Rock and Roll Killing Machine would really like to make me wanna disembowel my parents, teachers and football coach in a blood orgy this album just sailed way over my head, and when it was finally over I threw the new Guided by Voices cd back on. That's not to say I dislike the harder stuff at all! I've probably forgotten more about punk rock than these guys will ever even be able to comprehend.

The contents of R&RKM: an angular, dissonant, very metal sounding riff-o-rama with some twat blithering on & on & on & on & on about how much it sucks being misunderstood. Sample lyric: "I'd rather be your coffin than your pillow". Deep! A few sample song titles (and I am not making these
up, I swear): This Year's Most Fashionable Signs of Weakness, and Last Week's Minutes From The Meeting of the Secret Society of Your Friends Who Actually Hate You.

Musically this band are pretty adept at the whole volcanic math rock style. Thing is, how much longer is this stuff going to get called "new" or "hardcore" or even "punk"? They should have just called this The Angry Short Haired Heavy Metal Assembly Line and been honest.

DJ SERG "Golden State of Mind, Bay Area 1992-1997, Insidious Urban Mixtape" (Insidious)
From the chap who brought u Blastido Breaks come his reinterpretation of five years worth of (sadly) underground hip-hop. This album could be categorized as a "Various Artists" effort, but Senor Salsa (Serg) cuts up, mixes and reiterates the seventeen tracks here, fleshing out each of their better moments and making them all his own for a time. For a few of the artists here, their "better" moments are hard to find since the "average" minutes by them are usually leagues beyond the likes of that utterly preposterous bullshit that sells like hotcakes to people who think real hip-hop is about uneducated dickheads with cheesy promo videos full of "broke ho's in swimming pools."

Serg is joined on Golden State by several very fitting sound-bites from that 80's movie Repo Man, one of my top films of all time, just for the absurd, trashy and dumbhead aspects of it. And, of course, for the role played wonderfully by Harry Dean Stanton, whose use of the diatribe "dildo" has become one of my favorite terms of endearment now.

Serg AKA The Microwave Mexican also unearths a brilliant track by his Various Blends crew, which features (Cali Agent) Rasco, who almost dominates Golden State of Mind with his fluid rhyme skills and personality. He's one of two of my "better/best moments" emcees. Great re-workings of the always, always, always great Blackalicious, whose Swan Lake (from 2000's Nia, an essential), and tunes by DJ Shadow and Peanut Butter Wolf, Big Nous, Encore, Plan B, The Dereliks, Bored Stiff, and Hobo Junction.

DJ Shadow and Peanut Butter Wolf take cut & paste splice-a-thon music and downtempo off into uncharted, alien realms, with obsessive crate digging to find just the right beats and textures. Like Goldilocks, they're both picky as fuck. Get copies of Endtroducing (Shadow) or My Vinyl Weighs a Ton (Wolf) to see for yourself. They've each probably forgotten more about hip-hop than I'll ever know.

A bonus track by (the other Cali Agent) Planet Asia brings Golden State of Mind to an close that will have you going "already?" even though the cd is just over an hour long. Great stuff! Asia's another huge favorite. He's dropping a full-length on Interscope soon. If you're halfway cool you already probably have it on your want list, and if not, you have been forewarned! (site was down last time I checked)

SCAPEGOAT WAX "Aisle 10" single (Grand Royal)
This cd single is being tested right about now: How many times will I actually be able to play this before I've worn it out? You see, in the old days (around 1983) you went into a music shop, bought a vinyl record or a cassette of an album, and if it was truly enjoyable you eventually had to get yourself another copy. The record got all noisy and popped a lot or eventually skipped, you'd spill Fresca on it, or your little brother would throw it on their dinky Fischer Price turntable with that crappy steak-knife needle and give it a hard day's night. If you bought the cassette it'd get maybe twenty plays before the (audio) bias faltered, there were "drop outs", or your machine just ate the thing. If you were an anal douchebag like myself you would have probably been very meticulous, never getting even fingerprints on the record, and making immediate duplicates of the cassettes. I know a deejay who
has a vinyl "dish set" in his kitchen and will eat off of old Carpenters albums that would probably all fetch $$$ on Ebay. He doesn't seem to care. Another friend of mine takes old John Denver acetates, and random fucked-up campfire sing-a-long 12 inchers and glues or nails them to the walls of his office.

I've listened to the two songs on this single so many times now that if they were on vinyl Masami Akita (Merzbow) would wanna make his next noisefest with them. First up is Aisle 10 (Hello Allison), which has a ridiculously catchy chorus and is remixed by Madlib (of Lootpack and Quasimoto fame), the Funky Redneck (Kutmastah Kurt) and Black Matador. Almost Fine is a sleeper hit because it probably won't wind up on Okeeblow, the subsequent full-length, when it's brought out. If this is Scapegoat Wax's idea (government name: Marty James) of a "throwaway" Okeeblow is gonna be just fine. Especially with lyrics like: "Spent my last five dollars at Burger King." or "I'm still tripping off my
ex-girlfriend, we broke up three years ago last week. I still write songs about that girl, but she's moved on very nicely."

Well, my boombox is making a funky smell now, so I'll give Scapegoat Wax a break. Until tomorrow.

ALL OR NOTHING H.C. "sacrifice, discipline, bliss" (On The Rag Recs)
Reviewing albums put out by your friends will always leave you in a tricky spot. Honesty? Sincerity? Nope! You can lie to their face and go, "You guys rock!" at a gig or in a record shop, but if they actually send you the album they dropped eight quarts of sweat over, and you don't shoot a sticky batch right on top of the case while your listening to it, or harp endlessly in print about how what they did was sooo fantastic that it was almost as though you were deaf before you heard them then you
instantly become The Asshole. I'm learning that the hard way.

I told myself when I started doing reviews that I wasn't even gonna mention somebody's band in print or on-line if I was even passing acquaintances with them. Then I ran into some friends of mine in this little soon-to-be-broken up group who wanted to give me a copy of their only cd as a farewell to the whole project. I already knew before it arrived that I'd probably like it because they were so good live and I really dug their demo. So I cleaned listened to it again & again & again, and filed it in my
music collection, knowing that I'll wanna dig it out and listen every few weeks. It was that good. That band was the exception.

All Or Nothing H.C. are a Corona, Calif. outfit who truly tested how "good" of a pal I really am. I'm not even that much of an actual friend of the member who sent me their fourteen-song cd. I just used to bump into this person quite a bit at shows a few years ago. "You should send me your
It arrived, I gave it a listen, and put it back on the book shelf with my Guinness Rockopedia, Get In The Van (by Henry Rollins) and about a dozen different record guides I like to read when I'm on the toilet (like yourself, I do my best thinking on the porcelain throne, and sometimes suddenly just have to know what label Caterwaul first recorded for in their short career (it was Lost Arts, 1987, thanks). I listened to this album two more times yesterday while I was cleaning my house, and tonight I got some fuel (coffee), grabbed the cd and took a seat in front of my computer.

Adequate musicianship. Kinda that whole melodic hardcore style that tears up Oldies Radio now. Not exactly difficult stuff to play. I seriously doubt their flute player had a stack of charts to thumb through before getting tunes like Don't, Hate, More, Event, Enough, Create, Never down pat. A bit formulaic actually. An oxymoron? Maybe 'formula' and 'hardcore' eventually became one when that whole skippity Bad Religion drum beat with the guitar and bass chasing it got committed to wax for the fifty-thousandth time in the name of "taking chances".

That song Create borrows the first few notes from the main guitar riff for Subliminal by Suicidal Tendencies (off their first and only good album), and I actually thought this band had a sense of humor and decided to cover the thing.

Oh, and what's the 'H.C.' actually stand for? Harmonic Country? Hiccupping Camels? I'd guess it's safe to say that All Or Nothing H.C. hate me now. Especially the singer, but please don't spear my testicles when I see you! I'm just being honest! To Renae's benefit I think she's a talented singer, but she sells herself short with this band. Points deducted for the Exploited t-shirt on the bass player too. Couldn't let that one slide.

GAMEFACE "Always On" (Revelation)
This Orange County (Calif.) group used to do the whole Cruz Records thing (i.e. sounding a bit like The Descendents, Chemical People or Big Drill Car) back in their early days. Milo could almost afford to go to med school if he had a shiny quarter for every band that paid homage (maybe a bit too closely) to those coffee swilling, porno lovin', pop-core crews.

Luckily Gameface sacked their old drummer, drafted the very talented Steve Sanderson, and went less Bill Stevenson with their sound. There are still some odes to the ladies (The Warmest Heart Attack), but Always On is kept from taking itself too seriously when Gameface rock Anyone Can Write a Song, which is a catchy number reminiscent of the Doughboys, who had Scratch & Sniff dreadlocks and probably even made desperate women ill.

Now Gameface did flirt briefly with "Emo", and their name reeks of "jock" but I forgive them on both counts. Good album. Definitely recommended.