Howdy! Welcome to the album reviews. A section where I attempt to force my musical tastes on you the reader. I will review anything that is sent to me, regardless of musical styles or whether I think its crap or not (just accept the fact that I will state what I think!). I basically listen to every thing except for new country. I especially love punk, ska, emo, pop, soul, hardcore, old-school style hip-hop, celtic, speed metal and experimental music, but like I said I am open minded. Keep in mind that if you send me the album on vinyl you will get my undying affection forever! Because I work with fishermen I use the salmon method of rating records. Each salmon a record gets represents one pound of fresh sock-eye salmon. A really crappy record would be worth only one pound of salmon because I could go trade in the album at the local used record shop for something I really want. A really great album gets five fish, which means I would rather have that record then five pounds of salmon, and trust me I really like fresh salmon. You can probably figure out the value of any record that falls between these two ratings. Some albums also include the Captain Haircut seal of approval. This is for folks who like their pop-punk or emo without the slightest hint of discordance or weirdness.
AK47 - Now You'll Know Cassette (Independent)
"Fear strikes at the heart in this land of slaves, under every mall lies another thousand graves.". Victoria's answer to Propagandhi? Not quite, these guys are way better. Very political and very good. Twenty-one songs worth of political punk with a slight ska flavor. The production on this tape is amazing for a demo, it's nice and clean and clear without sounding too polished. This is definitely worth acquiring, so write to the band at: Box 1034/1720 Douglas Street/Victoria, B.C./V8W 2G7 Canada.
BRACKET - Novelty Forever LP (Fat)
This album makes Captain Haircut jump around like a spastic monkey and scream out the lyrics to the songs, so it definitely gets the Captain Haircut seal of approval. The first time I heard these guys was on the "Survival of the Fattest" compilation with the song "Talk Show", which I thought rocked. But I'm too use to hearing one really good song by a band and then having the rest of the album not measure up so I didn't buy any of their stuff. Then I saw them open for MxPx at the Starfish room and some drunken midget threw a bottle at the lead singer during one of the first few songs so they were cut short. I was finally properly introduced to the pure pop-punk joy of Bracket a few months later when they opened for Lagwagon and found out what I had been missing. These guys are definitely head and shoulders above the glut of Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords bands that seem to have flooded the market in the last few years. Incredible guitar leads and vocal harmonies help to make this an incredible album.
CIV - Secondhand Superstar 7" (Some)
The a-side is pretty dang poppy and quite a bit different then the Civ I was use to. Not to say their other stuff wasn't poppy, but I thought I had the wrong record on the turntable the first time I listened to it. But this is still a really good song. The b-side brings back the old familiar Civ I'm use to with the tracks "Worm's Eye View" and "Owner's Manual". These are a couple of under a minute hardcore blasts that rock. This is a good balance though because on an album if they did only one of these two styles for an entire release it would probably get a bit tedious.
THE ECHOING GREEN - s/t (Sarabellum/5 Minute Walk)
Oh my, we got some diversity going on here! This album has electronica, pop, stuff that sounds like EMF meets Atari Teenage Riot, an 80's cover and some scratch DJ stuff. Unfortunately, the last two styles are the only ones that they do in a way that appeals to me. Their cover of "Safety Dance" just rocks my world and the incredible turntable skills exhibited on "Freak Out" just blows me away. All though the other songs don't really appeal to me they are still well written and I'm sure they would appeal to fans of those genres. Also I really like the lyrics on this album. A great example of this can be found in the song "Empath" with the lyric "We've traded feelings for fun when we don't cry for no one, tell me where have we come when our compassion's out of fashion."
FIVE IRON FRENZY - Our Newest Album Ever CD (Sarabellum/5 Minute Walk)
There once was a band called Operation Ivy. This band did something exciting and new and as a result they became very popular. They only lasted a short while. Soon after their demise a million or so other bands rose up to take their place. Most of these bands sucked. Fortunately, Five Iron Frenzy is not one of these bands. These guys have now released two albums of exciting and fun ska-punk, Our Newest Album Ever being the most recent. If the title alone doesn't hint at the creativity and fun of this band, then the blazing guitars, awesome horns, skankin' bass lines, galloping drum beats or the humorous, yet thought provoking, lyrics should.
FIVE IRON FRENZY - Present Miniature Golf Courses of America 7" (Asian Man)
If you haven't heard Five Iron Frenzy before then this is a great place to start. This 7" feature one song from each of their two releases and an incredibly good cover of "Mama Mia" by Abba, which kicks butt on the original. Besides three great songs you also get a great write up on the band on the back of the 7" cover.
DAMIEN JURADO - Trampoline 7" (Sub Pop)
Along with such classics as "Slurpee Time" by the Inklings and "thee Pirate Song" by thee Pirates, this is one of the greatest anthems of pure rock 'n' roll defiance to come out of the north-west church basement show scene in the 1990's. Okay, maybe the word defiance doesn't quite fit, but you will definitely be singing along by the first time you here this one. Trust me, every single person I've played this for so far has not been able to get this song out of their head. This would get the five fish rating if the other two songs were as good, not to say they aren't good, but they just don't even come close to the title track.
MARK GESTRIN BAND - Physhedelic Nightmare & Crepitation Cassettes (Independent)
I love this band and I just had to share the news with someone, so I'm sharing it with you! Tired of the same o', same o'? Here's a sure cure… MGB, baby!!! Crazy. Innovative. Hilarious. The Members? Mark Gestrin on drums, Christoph Clause on guitars and keyboards, Mike Froog on lead vocals, and Axeman on bass guitar. Their sound? Sometimes heavy, sometimes funky, sometimes keyboardy, sometimes creepy, sometimes spacey, but always weird! During some songs Mike Froog tells stories that make me laugh and laugh and laugh and cough and laugh. His lyrics are great! I've found that often when I'm listening to them, I pick up on a line I hadn't noticed before that makes me laugh my bum off! There are lyrics such as "All I wanna do is fly, chicken to the sky!" and "My mind goes berserk, just like Captain Kirk!". But the lyrics sound best in the context of MGB music. I don't usually like to compare bands to one another, but to give you some other people's opinions of the MGB sound, I've heard a person say "they're like low-fi Mr. Bungle" and "the funny stories remind me of the Dead Milkmen" and my mom has said "Eww, I don't like that screaming" during the song "Dee's Ways". However, MGB need no comparison to other bands. They're simply off the wall! MGB's music isn't for everyone, but right now they're at the top of my list, baby! (review by Angie Lof)
MODEST MOUSE - Worms vs. Birds 7" (Hit or Miss)
You might have a bit of trouble finding this one because it was pretty limited, but if you do manage to track it down then definitely purchase it. The a-side, "Worms vs. Birds", has to be one of my favorite tracks that the mighty Modest Mouse has ever recorded. The other two songs are pretty rocking as well. I think these might have been recorded a number of years ago because Issac sounds so much younger and the band line up is different. Eric isn't listed on the credits, but Dan from the Murder City Devils and some guy named John are.
MXPX - Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo CD (A&M/Tooth & Nail)
Whoa, I wasn't quite prepared for this. With each album it seems that MxPx's musical precision was increasing, but the intelligence of their lyrics and innovation of their music was decreasing, but on this new album they seem to have hit a happy medium. Tight energetic pop-punk meets great lyrics and a few songs that are reminiscent of their earlier efforts. The last song was also pretty cool, an interesting instrumental song that reminds me of Roadside Monument. As opposed to every song sounding pretty similar, as on Life In General, there is a refreshing amount of variety on this one. The album also features guest appearances from Greg Hetson from Bad Religion, Jeff from Ninety Pound Wuss and Dale from the Cootees. As a bonus the CD is enhanced and features a screen saver and some other cool stuff.
PAINTED FISH - In Puris Naturalbus Tape (Independent)
Definitely deserves the four fish, although I was tempted to give it the three fish just as a joke in reference to the fact that there are now only three fish in the band. At one point there were four fish, but one left. No, there aren't actually any real live fish in the band. But the members sometimes take on the fish moniker kinda like how the Spice Girls add Spice to the ends of their names. Hence you have Kristen Fish, Carmell Fish, Fariyal Fish, and at the time of this recording, but now no longer with the band, Karen Fish. This is some fun acoustic music with four great female vocalists doing some great female vocal harmonies. My mom loves this album as well as strange twenty somethings like myself. I can definitely picture these guys on Lilith Fair. Would have received five fish except for the fact that I've heard some of their new stuff and I want to save the five fish rating for the next album. Plus if they include their drummer (possibly the legendary Captain Haircut!) and bassist on the next album cover, there will be five fish and I can carry on my stupid inside joke. For more info e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 14246 102 Ave./Surrey, B.C./V3T 5A5 Canada
PROMISE RING - Nothing Feels Good LP (Jade Tree)
I saw these guys play with Roadside Monument a few months ago and I knew from the first song that I had to check out their stuff. Boy was I ever right, this album is pure emo-pop perfection. It is so good! The band that I'd say they come closest to would be Joe Christmas, but that doesn't even begin to describe the wonders of the Promise Ring. Stand out tracks, as if the whole album isn't comprised of twelve stand out tracks, include "Pink Chimneys" and "J is for Jerusalem". If you do not buy this record you are stupid. This also gets the Captain Haircut seal of approval.
PUBLIC ENEMY - He Got Game/Resurrection 12" (Def Jam)
So I'm in the record store with some friends of mine the other day flipping through the hip hop section when what do I come across but good old Public Enemy. Now being a fan of theirs ever since purchasing a copy of "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" in junior high and having seen the "He Got Game" music video and really liking it, I decide to pick up the new album. Just as I'm about to head to the cash register with my purchase my friend Jon Wong stops me and tells me not to because he heard the album the other day and in his opinion "He Got Game" is the only good song and the rest of the album bites. Jon Wong is seldom wrong, so I put the LP back and purchase the single instead. Well, for one of the first times I'm aware of, Jon Wong was wrong. Both songs on this 12" are kickin' and now I'm wishin' I would have picked up the new album. Anyway, P.E. is definitely back in effect, same great songs, same great message. The only difference is that the two songs on this single sound a lot less cluttered then their previous releases. On previous albums Terminator X would just layer tons of noise over top of every song, like sirens and whistles and stuff. I must say I kind of like this sound a lot more. My only complaint is with the guest appearance from Masta Killa of Wu Tang Clan on "Resurrection". What is with all of these guest artists on hip hop records now a days? Masta Killa just messes up the whole track. It sounds like his rhymes were recorded without ever actually hearing the song they were going to go with. Anyway, I guess I can over look that because the rest of the single is so good.
THE W'S - Fourth From The Last Promo CD (Sarabellum/5 Minute Walk)
I saw these guys on tour with Five Iron Frenzy last February and enjoyed their live show very much, so you can imagine my delight when I was sent a copy of this for review. The band describes their sound as "Swank" which they claim is a combination of swing and ska. I don't know if this is the most accurate description. Out of the six songs on this promo, four were straight up swing and the other two were a combination of swing and ska. I have to say that I think they would be better sticking to just swing because the swing songs were just incredible, while the two "swank" songs were okay, but nothing too spectacular. Anyway, I'd say it would be worth picking up their album when it comes out just for the four swing songs alone.