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2009-2010 Record Reviews

D. Rider Mother of Curses review

D. Rider
Mother of Curses
[Tizona] defines 'D-Rider' as "someone who rides dick or is all up on your meat" or alternately, "a dusty kid in your crew". The liner notes to Mother of Curses, the debut record album by Chicago's newest elite music ensemble D. Rider, credits one "Deathrider" as the drummer, vocalist and strings-ist on it's accompanying musical collection. Quite the conundrum. And while we'll have to wait and see if we ever get to the bottom of this, in the meantime we can contemplate the music.

First a touch of background: Tha D, as we shall not call them, are the latest musical manifestation of Todd Allbbertt Rittmann. TAR is known to many as the tall "low" guitar player in U.S. Maple, and he may also be seen fucking around as a member of Chicago supergroup Singer and Northwest Suburban supergroup Cheer Accident. Rittmann (a.k.a. th'forementioned "Deathrider"), once again the tallest member of the band, sings lead and plays all the standard, manly "rock" instruments himself. He is invaluably augmented by Andrea Faught, who also works for Cheer-Accident, on keyboards, coronet and vox, as well as saxophonist/singer Noah Tabakin, of gonzo marching band Mucca Pazza.

Fans of U.S. Maple's singular knotty stumble will find much to like on Mother of Curses. The record represents a clear departure as it eschews USM's small-group naturalism in favor of some tastefully restrained but playful studio-bound pot-stirring. As the record opens, the tone and rhythm are set by the sound of a magic marker writing. A minor key electric guitar, stately, not unBonham-ish drums, fuzz bass and a coed duet vocal fall in line one by one - like a tired Skrull regiment marching out to conquer, again. The tension builds but never quite subsides or climaxes. As the record progresses song to song, the sense of resigned dread intensifies. But this is not some sad sack downer bullshit. No it isn't. The assertive nature of the musical and vocal arrangements - there's funky bass, badass horn lines, whawazzat harmonizing, calming spurts of loveliness, and jaw-dropping axe shredding scattered all over this thing - and the lyrics - vaguely gallows-humorous, mostly impressionistic meditations on war, sickness and isolation - are cut with a celebratory anxiousness.

There's been some talk wherever it is that people 'talk' these days, speculating that the current world reality may well inspire and inform some great musical statements like we saw in previous eras of turmoil. Of course, I'm not sure what's going to happen (major caveat: I haven't heard the new Morrissey album, the one with the cover where he's holding the baby yet), but I am prepared to go out on a limb and throw Mother of Curses on the pile with Blood Visions and Life...the Best Game In Town as an avatar of 21st century visionary rock and roll music.

S.B. Sweaty

Kaspar Hauser The Sons review

Kaspar Hauser
The Sons

Kaspar Hauser's been kicking the tin can gong around this town for a decade now, recording and releasing a variety of material on small local labels. Borrowing the name from a Warner Herzog film, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser(pretentious much?), singer/songwriter and Ohio native, Tom Comerford formed the band in 1999 in Iowa City, Iowa. Shortly thereafter, Comerford moved to Chicago where the band has employed a revolving line-up of members who have delighted audiences from Duluth, Minnesota to the Cleveland Flats.

Their latest offering to the world is a disc titled The Sons. Like a Midwestern R.E.M. fronted by Neil Young (sideburns included) Comferford and company touch on the more obvious elements of blues-inspired rock but also add a rootsy element and a haunting Americana feel. "Prodigal Son" and "MacBeth II (In the Morning)" are two standout tracks on this nine song LP. An unexpected cover of a Kinks classic, "See My Friends," also makes an appearance albeit with an American make-over in the form of pedal steel guitar. The track "Baby Vampire" seems to make light of infantile vampirism which is not a subject I take lightly as I have a niece who suffers from it, however, KH seem to just skirt the line of good taste without stumbling over it.

RoosterCow Records owner, Dick Cockman famously said, after reportedly being duped into signing the band to a one-off seven inch single in 2003: "I've seen sideburns with more talent! That's right, individual patches of facial hair with more talent than this kid." Comerford and crew have certainly proved Mr. Cockman wrong again with The Sons.

Chris Auman

Rancid Let the Dominos Fall review

Let the Dominos Fall
[Hell Cat]

I never knew me too much about this band Rancid, other than a string of major red flags: media-industrial complex backed, relatively mega-selling ska/street/pop punk rawk, presumably popular in malls, performed by living breathing cartoon punk rockers (complete with fake British accents) and shamelessly derivative of better bands that I probably don't care to listen to much anyway. No thanx, I always thought, I'll die listening to god-damn Green Day before I give a second of my time over to this shite. But I'll be dipped in mohawk wax if I'm not kinda going bonkers for this brand new Rancid album.

I wasn't wrong about where these guys are coming from aesthetically, but I was wrong about my capacity to enjoy it. This is a record chock full of toe-tapping, fist-pumping jams (and a handful of tender ones) certain to keep the pits full all summer long.

Rating: two boots straight up in the air!

S.B. Sweaty

The Mapes/World War IX split 7” review

The Mapes/World War IX
Split 7”

[Red Black & Blue]

Does the carpet match the Mapes? That's a question that doesn't get answered on these three short blasts of punk rock from Las Vegas, Nevada's Mapes. Snotty and fun with a theme song ("Journey to the Center of the Mapes") is how these gamblers roll. "Rocket in My Pocket" may reference the penis, but The Mapes are not afraid to let their sentimental side show on the heartfelt track, "Tits." Flippin' the split reveals two punk rock tunes from New York City's WWIX. "Empty V" deals with the vacuous wasteland of the formerly music video playing channel, MTV. (I thought Jello Biafra demanded that MTV leave the airwaves back in '85... they must not have been listening). For their second track, WWIX could not resist a song about their favorite past-time which is the consumption of drugs and alcohol. Can a real "Intervention" be far behind? Let's hope not.

Joey Germs

World War IX Brown Baggin It 7" EP

World War IX
Brown Baggin It 7" EP
[Red Black & Blue Records]

Skipping several wars ahead, this old school punk rock band from Brooklyn (yeah that's right, Real World Brooklyn!) gives us a future blast from the past. If I must reference a punk band from back in the dizzily day that I would compare WWIX to (and I must), I would have to say Circle Jerks. The singer reminds me of Keith Morris and that dude's snarly, gnarly pissed off punk rock rage-- sans the SoCal accent of course. The packaging for this seven inch record is highly conceptual being as it is, a brown paper bag, much like you would pack an egg salad sandwich in for lunch, or a forty of malt liquor for dinner.

World War IX revels in fast, straight forward punk rock with songs about drinking, ("Portrait of Sobriety"), drugging ("Treasure Hunt,"), religious freaking ("Jesus Freaks") and employees of the months ("Employee of the Month") which incidentally, was also the title of a fascinating film which combined the comic genius of Dane Cook with the sultry intensity of Jessica Simpson (their on-screen chemistry is explosive!) Any m*therf*cking way, World War IX will make you forget such things exist in our world and shift your attention back to the drink, drugs and freaks which are much easier to take.

Joey Germs

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