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Record Reviews

Published in Reglar Wiglar #1, 1993

Sickle Cell Theory (Really Rad Records)

This band... this band, man, this band blows. I think any band that would openly admit that they're from Dubuque, IA would have to suck. There's no scene in Dubuque, I've never been there but trust me, there's no scene.

What these chumps do in the name of rock'n'roll is quite an abomination. What they do under the guise of alternative rock is unforgivable. If PPMs songs such as "Love Tick" and "Baby Groove Machine" were any more blatantly similar to Radiohead's "I'm a Creep" or "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots, I fear we would be seeing some pretty fierce litigation on Court TV.

But what's to be expected, any time a new fad or sensation hits the streets, it's marketable. Whether it be music or clothes or crack cocaine, it doesn't take long to get the band wagon rolling. The originators of the scene get exploited, ripped off and then dumped in the big budget bin. It's sad to think that such a thing could happen with bands of such obvious talent like Stone Temple Pilots or Blind Melon who've spent years pioneering and crafting a new sound so unique they had to conjure a new moniker for it; thus the word grunge is a household one.

The troubling thing about the PPM CD is that it is actually beginning to sell quite rapidly. The bandwagon hysteria that accompanies burgeoning rock movement shovels its share of dung onto the musical shit pile. The saying that you'll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator, you can bet your arse that record companies know this.

Before I get too carried away let me just tell you what is actually redeemable about this CD; the cover is cool. I'll admit I've never seen two dog's fucking quite so passionately, especially on an album cover and I'll also concede to the Proactive Peace Machine that they do have a couple of so-so songs and that one of them actually made me cry (due to a beautifully done string arrangement and some touching lyrics). The song is called "Tears in the Sink" and even though you can sing the lyrics to "Candy Says" throughout the entire song without missing a beat it is still a touching effort by PPM. The band as a whole however still blows.

What the discerning alternative music listener must do, it would seem, is to get a gigantic umbrella to protect his or herself from this downpour of bad bands that has been falling steadily from nowhere, especially Seattle, ever since this whole grunge thing broke with Nirvana back in '91. We don't need anymore alternative bands! I wish everyone would wake up and get the picture. Let's not oversaturate the market, not when there are bands like Animal Bag, 4 Non Blonds, and Blind Melon out there ready to take it to extremes. I guess it just leaves the true alternative music fan no other alternative than to wait it out in the hopes that such copycat bands like Urge Overkill, Butthole Surfers and Jesus Lizard fade (or fad) away into oblivion.

Anyway, long live Eddie, think for yourself and peace to you–PC Jones

Mercury Rev - BocesMERCURY REV
Boces (Columbia)

I am not a fact checker for several reasons, laziness being the biggest one with apathy running a very close second. What I know of Mercury Rev is that they are five persons who formed a band in Buffalo, New York about three years ago and that they named said band, Mercury Rev for whatever reason inspired them at the time. Since their inception and even before they could put out their first record, guitarist Jonathan "Dingus" Donahue took an 18 month sojourn to God-knows-where to record and tour with the Flaming Lips, whose In a Priest Driven Ambulance album was produced by Rev bassist Dave Fridmann. With Donahue's return to his former band, came the release of Yerself is Steam which is 90% ass kickin. The Flaming Lips managed to use Donahue for two more albums and Mercury Rev used him for one more, the recently released Boces, which as far as I can tell is Secob spelled backwards. Boces is 95% really cool.

The most economical way to describe Boces is: ten songs of varying length. However, being unemployed allows me the luxury of being a little more gracious with my praise; these guys are fab, hip and fairly rad.

Boces starts with "Meth of a Rockette's Kick" which is an epic song reminding me in some strange way of Lou Reed's Street" Hassle", not so much in content but in narrative structure. Whoah! But all analyzation aside, listen to this song after a blunt and you just might lose your mind for ten minutes and 28 seconds.

"Bronx Cheer" is the hook hit of the record and it's a good one, it is, dare I say it: cute. I've seen the video on the, mostly impotent Alternative Nation and it was quite groovy. "Downs are Feminine Balloons" and "Snorry Mouth" are a couple other extra long songs that pop brain cells with no prejudice.

If you like the Flaming Lips you are sure to groove on this, it is very similar. Drug references and psychedelic lyrics and everything else is the very obvious comparison (but let us not endorse such activities in a public forum). The guitar work is a little less crazed than Wayne Coyne's or Donahue's when he's with the Lips but more controlled guitar playing inhibits them not, my friends, it's still cerebellum toaster quality. There are also more backing vocals and crazy flipped out flutes and horns and shit like that with Mercury Rev for which I am a sucker. And if you like women's breasts you will no doubt enjoy the promo poster that accompanies the first album. Boobs seem to e a long-standing theme in a comparatively short career for Mercury Rev. One of the member of Mercury Rev is a woman so don't you be so quick to call them pigs, besides, like Playboy pictorials, the covers are done very tastefully and no compromising positions are assumed.

In essence I think the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev should not be viewed as simply two bands that sound a lot like each other, but rather, view them as two sister bands seeking to do the same thing with their music which is? I will not be so presumptuous. Buy everything they've done and do in the future and you will have invested wisely in some seriously, beautifully strange stuff–Muggsy McMurphy

Passion's Greatest Players (Reaction Records)

"You broke my heart and that's no mystery/ You called me a slut and you know what that does to me," Annie wails and rails over the crying, reverberating, fuzzy wa-wa drone of her Gibson electric. When Annie Baldwell sings of heartbreak at the hands of men and the vicious cruelty of the men in her life, we all listen, we've all been there. In this, her sophomoric effort, Annie Baldwell presents to us a testament of self, an omnipresent citation to the incredulity of men's attitudes toward a woman's sexuality and a vigorous investigation into the soul of an individual who has had her share of hard knocks and her own painful kicks to the groin. If Annie Baldwell postulates perfection with this piece of work, her confidence shines through like a beacon of light on a dark starless night.

What this album accomplishes in it's atoescious endeavor is to recreate a world where trust in not inherent to the characters that inhabit it. Where the life of a woman is not always conquered with the facility that those more fortunately gendered inherit at conception. The encompassing morals that thwart her psyche are not her own, but rather they have been institutionalized upon her by a source foreign to her yet as familiar as her own brother, father or uncle

"Eject me, reject me, but I am not your enemy just 'cause I sit down to pee." Maybe a cringeful piece of rudimentary poetry, but when it is sung by Annie Baldwell it has become inbued and beautiful. The truth about her lyrics is that they are as embarrassing and ugly as the realities they depict.

Ms. Baldwell's first offering, To Thine Ownself was often times diffident and decidedly mitigated (understandable circumstances, most new comers are). Most of her latest album is not cynical, there is a welcomed inconsistency of tone with this album. The second half of Passion's Greatest Players brings with it a fresh, uncompromised account of life as a woman in the 90s. An era in our relational history that supposedly marks the end of the insensitive man, an year where men and women have reached an understanding of one another. Gone are the sloppy solipsism that littered her first effort. Gone too unfortunately is much of the humor and self deprecation that more than subtlety calibrated To Thine Ownself. Two long years have labored and borne the fruit of Annie's second album. A lot can change in a woman's life in two years. Especially for a woman in the music industry where there's pressure for a woman to sell her sexuality. The conscious or unconscious, subliminal or apparent desire of men in three piece suits, for women to degrade themselves in order to sell records is a subtle theme ever present in Baldwell's work. Sexual pressure may have affected Annie, but I'm sure the nude photo of her on the cover was entirely her idea seeing how blatantly compromising it is.

In essence what we have here with this piece of work is an artist in pain, exuding this pain unto her listeners in the hopes that they can better understand her realities and the absurdities of our relations with the opposite sex be you female or the other one. "Me and Billy would walk on the beach/he'd call me his baby, his big buxom peach." It's time to wake up and smell the testosterone–Jayne Wayne

Pressure Cooker Chicago Compilation

Pressure Cooker (Furball Records)

A new record label can be likened to a spring seedling, struggling to push up through the unyielding soil. It is a hardship, and at times it may seem like a mission impossible, but the potential is great as is the reward. The potential to break through the surface and grow into something that is strong and beautiful is the inspiration and soon the seedling is seed no more as it bursts through the earth and into the warm sunlight, it is a sapling now, a sapling that can later give life of its own, reproduce, multiply like so many bunny rabbits in a small three by four foot chicken wire cage. But the competition may be great and the elements not to readily compromising. There may be a large oak tree looming overhead ready to suck up your sunlight, its thick roots fully prepared to slurp up your water supply and gobble up all nutrients from the soil. Only the strong survive and the weak perish under them unless they can somehow cut a deal with the strong and if you aren't a good bullshitter you can get buried by some big ugly oak tree that produces nothing but acorns and who the hell eats acorns except squirrels, and squirrels are really mean. Really nasty reviews don't help either.

Furball Records is one such sapling that has recently put out a 12 song compilation of underground Chicago talent. The CDs got a bunch of band's like Trenchmouth, Mama Tick, Wickerman, God Box, Hog Lady, Loud Lucy, Uptighty, Scissor Girls, Conduscent, Stumbleblock, Flying Luttenbockers, bands like that, in fact that's all the bands. Cake from Flipside called the compilation "incredible," "great stuff." Option noted that it "didn't contain any embarrassments." Alternative Press dissed it though, but they did so in a clever and witty way by completely missing the point of the liner notes. New City said the cover art is "tremendous", the best we've ever seen on any local compilation."

But what do they all know? Listen to your pal. Muggsy, he knows. This is a good solid comp. of your local scene, dude, buy it and support these bands and this label. Buy all local releases. Go to shows. I know there's a lot of bands that suck on the scene right now, but shit, look at the pop charts any day of the week. The charts are ruled by the talentless of our society. We need help. We need fresh blood.

Buy this CD, the guy at Furball owes me mone–Muggsy McMurphy


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