Quick Hits 2 | 10.06

More brief CD reviews…enjoy!


Particle | Transformations Live for the People (Shout Factory)

Particle has taken to the modern jam-band crowd, offering up positive anthems that really take into effect the atmosphere of a really good concert. This live album well illustrates this concept. Transformations combines two concerts, one at the Henry Ford Theatre in Hollywood and the other at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. The discs feature an assortment of great guest performances, from Blackalicious, DJ Logic, Joe Satriani, and Robby Krieger. Their rendition of "L.A. Woman" is different and not as moody as the original, but "Particle People" with Blackalicious and "Fiyo on the Bayou" definitely make up for it. | Janelle Greenwood

RIYL: Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee, George Clinton


Kelly Joe Phelps | Tunesmith Retrofit (Rounder)

Kelly Joe Phelps’ intent with Tunesmith Retrofit was to shift focus "away from music heavily driven by guitar to music that’s more driven by the song." Lyrics that are introspective and often melancholy will give you lots to ponder. The most upbeat feeling tune, "Handful of Arrows," is a tribute to deceased guitarist Chris Whitley. However, the country-bluesman’s use of banjo (sometimes lending a bluegrassy feel), keyboards, and melodica (a cross between harmonica and accordion) provide an aural background that is engaging in its subtle virtuosity. | Al Kunz

RIYL: Guy Davis, Ry Cooder, Dave Van Ronk


Rival Schools | United by Fate (Island)

A supergroup of sorts, Rival Schools consisted of members of such legendary punk outfits as Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, CIV, and Youth of Today. Their only LP, United by Fate, sounded like a grunge on punk orgy with the perfect hooks and vocals (by the amazing Walter Schreifels) to make it radio friendly and tasteful at the same time. Sadly, the band broke up in 2003 after only one album, limiting their time to get noticed by many people. United by Fate still stands up as an amazing album by a short-lived band. | Chris Schott


Sax Daddy | Sax Daddy (self-released)

Smooth jazz isn’t a genre known for sailing into uncharted territories, but even the most egregious offenders have never churned out anything as excruciatingly bland as Sax Daddy. This is music-to-make-love-to-your-old-lady-by—in case the liner notes goading you to "strike a candle, pop the cork, [and] relax," didn’t make that clear—but it fails on even the most basic levels. These songs don’t build to any sort of climax, á la the standard smooth jazz cliché of the sustained sax high note, preferring simply to meander through the same repetitive melody over and over again, which becomes all the more painful when every song ticks past the five-minute mark. But perhaps the album’s most heinous crime is that of false advertising, as Sax Daddy features hardly any sax at all. When the limp faux-blues riff "Lay Me Down" drags on for 236 lifeless, sax-free seconds, you might just be tempted to shove a screwdriver through your ear to end the torture—and that’s not even mentioning the over-processed synthesized backing tracks or the songs with vocals, by far the worst of the lot. With this self-titled album, Sax Daddy seemed to be aiming to make unobjectionable make-out music, but even on that front he failed completely and miserably. | Jason Green

RIYL: Boney James, Dave Koz, elevator music


Sublime Deluxe Edition | Sublime (Universal)

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Bradley Nowell finally got the homage he deserves after the band’s major-label debut Sublime was released the way Nowell had wanted before his tragic heroine overdose. Not only do Sublime fans get the pleasure of this original unreleased version order¾opening with a cover of Bob Marley’s "Trenchtown Rock"¾but a second disc is included featuring 15 bonus tracks, eight of which are previously unreleased, including instrumental versions of the popular reggae-inspired song "Doin’ Time." And for all of you visually geared fans, look for a career-spanning multi-disc box set in November. | Chelsa Everley


Two Dollar Guitar | The Wear and Tear of Fear: A Lover’s Discourse (Smells Like Records)

A common complaint of people who don’t like a specific genre of music (i.e., geriatrics and hip-hop, evolved human beings and country music) is that the entire specific genre of music sounds the same to them. Well, I tend to enjoy artists of the recent folk rock and freak folk trend, and yet many members of each sound the same to me. In the latter category fits Two Dollar Guitar, who releases inoffensive album after inoffensive album, but seems to be entirely incapable of separating himself from the pack. Hell, even individual songs don’t stand out as good or bad on his newest, The Wear and Tear of Fear: A Lover’s Discourse. This is problematic. | Pete Timmermann

RIYL: Iron & Wine, The Real Tuesday Weld, being bored


Ween | Shinola, Vol. 1 (Chocodog)

Hey, it’s a new Ween CD! I don’t know whether to inhale some aerosol barbecue-grill cleanser or begin that claymation porn project I’ve been putting off since junior high. Either way, I must do something stupid and hilarious in celebration of the glory of the Boognish. The collection of one-offs, rarities, and unreleased bits features "Boys Club," which sounds like the theme for a Saturday-morning kids’ TV show hosted by a child-molesting clown; "Big Fat Fuck," a squonky, highly distorted frog turd of a song reminiscent of Pure Guava‘s "Touch My Tooter"; and "Monique the Freak," which sounds like some kind of godawful ’80s power-funk by a gang of would-be-macks with 10-inch high-top fades. | Byron Kerman

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