Splendid E-zine presents

our weekly collection of shorter reviews

The Metalunas, The Bonaduces, Roots Manuva, Jeff Aug
Plastikman, Bliss, Velocette, On The Double

The Metalunas / X-Minus-One / AmPop (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "X-Minus-One"
A sixties sci-fi surf rock treat, X-Minus-One features the guitar stylings of Mark Brodie, who can always be counted on to nail that fifties/sixties sound to the wall. The recipe is simple: heavily reverbed guitars paired with atmospheric organ melodies and driving basslines. There's a storyline here, sort of, complete with occasional sci-fi serial-style interludes detailing the Metalunas' struggle against the evil alien Zooites, though it's all really just an extension of the packaging. It doesn't matter -- you still get killer surf tunes. -- gz

The Bonaduces / The Democracy of Sleep / The Bonaduces (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Sara's Black Pyjamas"
The Bonaduces' The Democracy of Sleep is sensitive-yet-powerful modern rock. In the tradition of other fine power-pop bands, The Bonaduces blend big, riffy guitars with sugar-coated melodies and bittersweet lyrics. Take "Sara's Black Pyjamas" for example -- besides the cool orthography of its title, the song paints a picture, in poignant prose, of what it's like to have a friend who shows the warning signs of suicide. This is truly moving, but what's particularly laudable is the way the bright-eyed music screams "But life still goes on!" without minimizing the impact of the song. While dealing serious issues common to kids these days, the Bonaduces also maintain a sense of glee that epitomizes youthful resiliance. What a fine band the Bonaduces are! -- nw

Roots Manuva / Juggle Tings Proper / Big Dada/Ninja Tune (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Juggle Tings Proper"
UK Hip-hop with heavy ragga flavor, these two tracks gave my subwoofer an unexpected and intensive workout. You get five cuts -- three mixes of the title cut and two of "Strange Behaviour". For some reason, the bass on this EP was custom-tuned to the resonant frequency of my skull, resulting in a screaming, pounding headache of the variety that makes you put pressure on the bridge of your nose and beg the pain to go away. Eventually, I had to turn the disc off. It's good, though -- very good. Just keep the aspirin handy. -- gz

Jeff Aug / Before Then After / Corrosive Media (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Whiplash Blues"
Clearly deserving of the title "exceptionally skilled guitar player," Jeff Aug offers Before Then After, a solo guitar effort that lets the pick do the talking. With a variety of styles ranging from soothing, trance-inducing long-players to reverb soaked, multi-rhythmic fret-board busters, fans of Joe Satriani or Ian Moore should appreciate Mr. Aug. In its entirety, the CD is a bit difficult to digest (15 tracks) but small doses aptly display the stylings, skill and compositional capability of Aug. -- am

Plastikman / Artifakts (bc) / Novamute (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Skizofrenik"
Artifacts (bc) rose, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the unfinished third Plastikman LP, Klinik, to become an intellectual bridge between Richie Hawtin's Musik and Consumed albums. None of this information should matter to the casual listener -- it simply serves to place the disc in historical context. Said casual listener is more likely to be put off by Artifakts (bc)'s minimalist trance techno sound -- the tracks are long and linear, the recording level is relatively low and the mood is subtle, even by Hawtin's standards. That's not to say that the disc is flat-out dull, but it's definitely a low-key affair -- certainly not the best starting point for electronic music newbies. -- gz

Bliss / Chasing the Mad Rabbit / J-Bird (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Karmic Wheel"
Bliss are two metalheads, Michael Trapp and Matt Wells, whose aim is to make the "ultimate rock CD". Both have extensive resumés as members of various now-defunct rock groups and as backup musicians for bigger-name acts. Experience isn't what's lacking on this CD -- the missing element is contemporary relevence. The songs on Chasing the Mad Rabbit reflect a strong grounding in classic rock. The opening, "Karmic Wheel" leads you to wonder if '80s metal has made a comeback. "Sick" goes in the catagory of songs that try to break the mold (sounds kind of like Peter Gabriel) but the album spills all the beans with the power ballad "Once Upon A Time" (hey, is that a lighter you're waving? O.K. it does sound like Journey!). I recommend this one to anyone that yearns for the days of big, hairy cock rock! Mad Rabbit isn't a bad album, but it definitely sounds out of place among today's music. -- nw

Velocette / Fourfold Remedy / Beggars Banquet (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Bitterscene"
When they're not busy being UK music press darlings, Velocette make sophisticated girly-pop -- Lush and Saint Etienne (for whom they've opened) are the most obvious reference points, with a touch of Stereolab thrown in for good measure. With her breathily emotive vocals, Sarah Bleach joins the short list of women who can hypnotize men with a microphone and a spot of reverb. However, while Fourfold Remedy is an accomplished and enjoyable effort, there's nothing here quite as attention-grabbing as Velocette's earlier material -- or perhaps I just know what to expect from them now. -- gz

On the Double / Day One / On the Double (CD-R)

Sample 30 seconds of "Two Tone"
These North Texans try their hand at the punk/ska revival thing. While you may be sick to death of this rehashed genre by now (may be? -- ed.), you've gotta give this young band credit for writing some high powered, energetic tunes that show some promising songwriting. General snottiness and above average tunes (including the rude boy anthem "Two Tone") guarantee at least a few spins on your CD player. -- am

nw - noah wane | gz - george zahora | am - andrew magilow

home reviews boombox features ten misc