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 ISSUE  8.1 WINTER 1998 

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Bedroom Boyeez
Live at Bourbon St. Cafe
Feb 28, 1998

The first band to go on before close to a hundred folks packed into a tiny room. Stripped down and nasal. No riffs, no half-time breakdowns. Not music for slamming, just knee shaking and maybe a little pogo. The tones were rude, and there was none of the prima donna posing crap that makes a band present itself rather than just *play*. No filler, no bullshit. My new favorite band.

- Colin Odden (Apr 01, 1998)

[Big Hello CD] Big Hello
Girl Versus Boy Verses
7" EP (Break-Up! Records)

An easy place to start is that Big Hello includes Elvis Brother Brad and a cover of Elvis Costello's "Lip Service." Now add that the vocalist is a female somewhere in the area where the playful side of Joan Jett meets the grittier side of the Go Go's. Hmm, the Runaways as the Ramones?

The cuts "Cynical Girl" and "Cynical Boy" are the same tune, with lyrics "genderized" appropriately. Ya get the title now?

For some reason "I Don't Like You" reminds me of an old Annette Funicello 7" ("Tall Paul" b/w "Ma He's Making Eyes at Me") I stole from mom. Knowing Pat Dull's (Break-Up! Records label leader) fascination with a combination of 1950-80s pop culture, music, films and Donna Reed, this all suddenly makes even more sense. It's circa '65 Beatles doing beach party music with Annette singing.

Yeah, but do I like it? Well, it's not ground breaking, though the songs are recorded and performed well. As you might expect from an Elvis Brother, it is a bit light-hearted, but not overly so. In the end it keeps my attention -- I was never a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, though I did watch the re-runs.

- Joel (Mar 1998)

Bow Wow Wow
Kicks big ole' butt! Live at Mekka
Feb 22, 1998

BWW were my hero's back in the mid 80's. Who else could have combined those bone crushing funky rhythms with the pure innocent sexuality. Singer Annabella Lwin was only 14 when the band started in '80. Now some odd years later, the band has re-assembled for a short tour. Lwin and bassist Leigh Gorman are the only original members with a new guitarist and drummer helping out. The band was certainly no worse for the wear, churning out their funky tribal rhythms with clean precision. Bassist Gorman, is regarded as a very influential bass stylist, creating a sonic presence with his 4 string Wal Bass that few can emulate. Lwin was as youthful and vibrant as ever, not faltering on one note. Chad,Tim and John fired up the mighty Ishkabible Machine as the opening act, living up to their reputation as crafty producers of heavy sounds. The Mekka did a real nice job with the sound. The only things that really blowed; Columbus didn't support this gem of a show very strongly and BWW didn't play long enough.

- MOTHMAN (Feb 24, 1998)

Cash Money & openers
Live at Little Brothers

I had ta feel sorry for Sweet Diesel when they took the stage Friday night. There were maybe five people in the audience when they started. That's quite all right. It's the audience they deserved. When I listened to their set, all I could really think of is whether or not they were playing Supersuckers covers. After them, a few more people showed up for Switch, a guy and a girl following the same two-person setup as the featured Cash Money. I swear they had one chord and lyric per song. The next band was straightforward rock 'n roll. I like. Too bad the guy from Switch mumbled when he introduced them. I guess I could look their name up. Then came time for Cash Money, the drummer and guitarist duo from Chicago. The smell of bacon filled the room as they set up the stage. You gotta admire a band that'll cook up some Chicago-style bacon for their starving roadies. You also gotta admire them for tossing in a whole lotta blues and just plain ol' good rhythms and wonderful guitar work and frenzied drumming into their music. They began a little rusty, but after running through a few songs from Black Hearts ("Damn Damn Damn," "The River" and "Oil Can"), the boys hit their groove. They were supporting their new disc, which I so badly wanted to buy right then and there, but was short two bucks. Two good bands, one static and one just plain poor. Overall, a pleasant night out.

- Daniel Strohl (Mar 01, 1998)

[Chalk CS] Chalk

Most may have noticed I often review bands I like, except for a lapse of reason with Chaos Theory, so my criticisms are centered around good bands trying to get better and perfect their craft. Cincinnati's Chalk certainly has that idea in mind, they just need to hone some rough edges.

Their four song demo cassette hearkens back to the early eighties darkness found in Joy Division, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry (sans the drum machine) and blends the baritone vocals with the guitar aesthetic of Sonic Youth. On "Zero," the first eight bars of the chorus are Goo relived. Somehow, someone is going to hear My Bloody Valentine in this; however, I refuse to offer MBV as a viable comparison anymore simply because a band uses a few effects. For a group with about one hour of recorded music in the last eight years, MBV are used way too much as the standard barer of the layered, reverse reverb, vibrato-arm masturbating that many guitarists utilize daily in one way or another. Chalk's guitarist, Dave Rohs, has the style down, although one of the major flaws with this tape is the inability to discern what appears to be some beautiful guitar sounds. Changes come across as too exaggerated and the tape bleeds enough to blur the intended message. Cool harmonies and subtle rhythmic pauses, like those found in "Gone", best illustrate the band's sonic motives.

Produced by Steve Schmoll of Lazy (now defunct?), I can't help hearing the influence of "Stella Drye" and "Shut Down" on the track "Maniac." A melancholic beauty will surely surface live and hopefully be captured in future recordings. You needn't dress up in black, they're a little madder than they are depressed. And leave the patchouli at home, Chalk smells better than 1982.

- Casa (Mar 1998)

[Quinn Fallon CD] Quinn Fallon
Land of the Serial Killers
CD (FFN Records)

In the back of my head, I've often thought that sometimes I don't take a liking to songs because they seem too familiar -- like something I've played or listened to too frequently at one point or another. (Shh. Don't tell Greenhorn.) Fallon may be another victim of that (hee hee hee, Ha Ha Ha, HO HO HO!). Somewhere around Daniel Lanois' solo material, the Smithereens and Web Wilder, this CD doesn't really excite me, though it is produced and engineered quite well. Kudos to that.

Notably, Fallon is backed by many local all-stars of that midwest pop rock sound: Marcy Mays (guitar and vocals) and Dana Marshall (Drums) of Scrawl and Phillip Park (bass) of the Haynes Boys, Andy Harrison (guitar) of Howlin' Maggie, Tom Boyer (backing vocals) of Oswald and the Herringbones, and Joe Oestreich and Colin Gawel (backing vocals) both of Watershed. Even Slim Dunlap makes a harmonica cameo. If my ear for local guitarists' serves me, that's probably Fallon on acoustic guitar; however I hear none of the recording session musicians actually perform with Fallon live.

In actuality, the only tune I strongly dislike is the last cut. Unfortunetly, it's also the title cut. I simply don't buy a slow, perty, melancholy ballad nearly worthy of James Taylor awkwardly stating: "Don't fuck with me / 'cause I'm from Ohio / the land of the serial killers." Maybe I'm just spoiled. Among others', Eric's Mother's take on a similar subject in "Highway Killer" is much more believable and fitting.

Yes, I may be a bit bored with it, but I actually enjoy the production quality. If you're into any of the mentioned bands and musicians, you'll probably be pleased with this CD.

- Joel (Mar 1998)

Bricks and Blackouts
CD (Warner Brothers)

I ususally enjoy Gaunt; that's why I picked this up. I expected another punk album -- Columbus-style -- from these boys. In my anxiety to listen, I never noticed the WB lurking on the back. (Why look on the back of this one? the song titles are already on the front.)

But as I popped it into my player, I had to look again to make sure it really was Gaunt. Yeah, there's Wick and Jovan. It was Gaunt alright, but I would have never expected them to go pop. It just doesn't sound right.

There are still a few Gaunt elements here, like the short experiments with noise and the lyrics, which are the saving grace of this disc ("That's why I'm sitting here with you / Because you remind me of you" "You could set the breeze on stun"). But other than that, I'm not pleased.

- Daniel Strohl (Mar 27, 1998)

I Have Mass
Live at the Northberg
Feb 21, 1998

Renewed my faith in indie-rock. They (Post, Ellen, & Matt) are sensitive without being whiny. It's so good to hear sensitive music without the wimp factor. They rock, not in a beer-rock sense but like they know how seriously to take themselves. Very refreshing. Preston Furman played as well. Kicked my ass again. They're so LOOSE, and everything's so scrappy that even my sorry ass was shakin'.

- Colin Odden (Apr 01, 1998)

[PMM CS] Pretty Mighty Mighty
"Heart Attack" "Ski Instructor" / "Tidal Wave" "Perfect"
Cassette Demo

The most noticable difference between this and previous PMM releases is the abscense of the female vocals. While the material stands on it's own, I really miss the complementary vocals. Not to mention that she had a very powerful presence and delivery -- Mama Cass in a modern rock setting. Simply said, she had balls in the vocal department. In contrast, Jon's voice is at its best when he is seemingly effortlessly delivering smooth and understated melodies. He actually has a very perty natural voice. From some of this new material and Jon's increased solo appearances, I think the band realizes this, too.

"Heart Attack" starts the demo with PMM's big wall of sound, My Bloody Valentine with violin sound. The violin playing alternates from train whistles and brakes screeching to arpeggios not too far removed from something like Rush's "Spirit of the Radio." This interaction of Noel's violin and Jon's guitar are largely responsible for the "MBV sound" -- pretty noise and hidden melodies. My one big concern is the vocal recording techniques. This sticks out most on "Heart Attack," but maybe that's because it's the first song I listened to on the tape. They seem a bit trebly and chipmunk-ish -- as if they are playing a bit too fast.

"Tidal Wave" is a prime example of a new direction for the band. The recorded version is keyboard based. Live they pull it off even better with their standard violin, guitar, bass and drums format. It's a slow, moody tune with sparse incidental percussion, reminiscent of XTC's "Another Sattelite." It's understated subtlety, story line and change of pace make it my new favorite PMM song.

Blending the above two a bit, "Ski Instructor" brings another near-ballad story to the more prominent PMM sound and instrumentation, including violin dissonance.

"Perfect," also found on the Burnt and Bent CD compilation, is more of a rocker in the vein of "Heart Attack" with ballsier vocals.

Of course all the songs here demonstrate PMM's penchant for time, tempo and rhythm changes. John's deep, full sounding bass and Neal's tight, sharp percussion make this happen without hesitation or doubt.

Look for this material and more on a full length CD as soon as PMM settles on a label to release it.

- Joel (Mar 1998)

[Revelers-Pioneering] The Revelers
Pioneering the Space Frontier
7" (Break-Up! Records)

Think Badfinger, the Kinks, the Knickerbockers, the Who, the Box Tops, the Beatles, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Lovin' Spoonful, "Strawberry Fields," "Junior's Farm," "96 Tears," "The Kids are Alright," "Give the People What They Want."

Of the relatively few Revelers recordings I've heard, this one takes the least away from the energy of seeing them live. At the same time, I find the cheesy organ is a bit too up front on these cuts. Some of the transitions and arrangements are a little more involved than their standard fair, too. While I understand the studio seems like the place to deal with such transitions, I like their more straight-forward 1965-69-ish, Stones-y and Motown tunes more. Again, I have to add that these guys have put on some of the most musically energetic shows I've ever seen, so if ya want 'em at their best, catch 'em live.

- Joel (Mar 1998)

[Slugwerth CS] Slugwerth
Cassette Demo

This three song cassette comes from a Mansfield band that plays at the Northberg semi-regularly.

The first track, "Mrs. Brown," ... Go ahead. Take a guess. Yep, it's heavily influenced by Mr. Brown -- James Brown, that is. I swear the lead guitar part and effect are straight from the theme to Three's Company. They might be under the influence of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, too.

"You Said" plays up the pop metal side of Bush, er, Nirvana. Faith No More and Living Color may provide a bit of perspective, too.

The phase shifted guitars and reverberating vocals of "Earplugger" are a bit much. Not exactly the Doors, but the lower, nearly spoken vocals and almost tribal rhythm do bring that to mind.

In the end, "Mrs. Brown" is fairly run of the mill pop rock funk -- not bad, but possibly too overdone to be all that entertaining to me. "Earplugger" almost comes off as filler. "You Said" is written perty well. Shave a few minutes off it, and I'd leave liking it.

- Joel (Mar 1998)

The Velveteens
I'm regretting all those times I missed a duo performing as Amy and Megan. They now front what may very well be my favorite new band in Columbus. A mix of rooty, blues, country, rock, groove and swing, I must admit the Velveteens do remind me a bit of one of my other local favorites, Bigfoot. The music and soulful female vocal doublings bring to mind the Cowboy Junkies, Mazzy Star and Bonnie Raitt one minute and the Andrews Sisters and big band swing another.

While the vocals may be their strongest point, their weakest point and biggest limitation may be the drums -- hearing the same fill in a couple different songs bothered me a bit. A few tunes are unnecessarily long and repetitive, but a few more months of honing by the band and I suspect I'll be offering to do their ... um, hmmm ... web page?

- Joel (Mar 1998)