VOLUME- Guest Reviewer Of The Month: Louie Barletta

Regis Philbin

The Regis Philbin Christmas Album

Hollywood

(Negative 4 Stars)

Unless you’ve been growing gray hair for the past twenty years, you probably already know this guy sucks. Period. For those of you still on the fence, let me give you a little rundown.

This is a Christmas album, where not only he and his family, but also Donald Trump, sing traditional Christmas carols. The album comes with a story Regis has written about a typical Christmas at the Philbin house, and to top it all off, he includes a f-king photo album of their most memorable Christmas moments. This guy makes me so distraught that I can’t even help but write run-on

sentences! Really, do you want to hear Donald Trump sing “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”? I would rather die of strangulation while listening to the mating cry of the humpback whale.

There are so many good bands that can’t even get a label to hear their demo, but this guy … I can’t believe the president of Hollywood Records even wasted his breath when he said yes to this bullshit idea of an album. I picture the scenario being something like this: “Hey, we need to release something that will be a total flop so we can use it as a tax write-off.” “Okay, how about getting that guy Regis from that morning TV show to sing Christmas carols?”

This album should be called Cashing In And Selling Out At 68 Years Old! Really, is anybody really feeling “Roasting Chestnuts On An Open Fire”? The guy who okayed this album being released should have his chestnuts roasted on an open fire!-Louie Barletta

Slow Runner

No Disassemble

Red Ink/J

****

I have this thing about subjectivity. You know, about how there’s no accounting for other people’s tastes and that sort of thing. So where do I come off trying to tell you what you should like? Chances are the stuff I like isn’t going to necessarily be what you guys are into and vice versa. So ask yourself this: Do I trust this dude?

This is a pretty important question. Who do you trust? And also, what happens when you trust someone and they screw you over? Can you ever really trust that person again? Do you X them out of your life?

Maybe reviews should have a caveat or something. Conditional reviews. Like, “This album is awesome if you like lo-fi indie electronica!” Or, “Definitely buy this Slow Runner album on the condition that you enjoy melodic pianos and poppy computer beeps.”

That way you can never get mad at me. Even so, I know my musical tastes are pretty damned eclectic-like one minute I’ll be listening to Venom and the next I’ve got Stevie Wonder on the stereo. Slow Runner fits in there somewhere, too. I’m not sure exactly where. Just trust me.-Andreas Trolf

Diplo

Fabriclive 24

Fabric

*

What is it with “club culture”? People who are “into” dancing and are totally serious about “moving it”? They get that glazed-over look in their eyes, and they’re about a million miles away. I’m baffled by this. I know they try to look cool and “sexy,” but it always ends up looking as if a group of eight year olds suddenly grew up, like in that movie Big, and they decided to dress up like adults going to an awesome party! Maybe that’s the whole idea behind it-you’re playing dress up. You put some gel in your hair and try not to get a DWI on the way home.

Anyhoo, Diplo made this mixtape. There’s a weird occupation right there: professional DJ. That’s like making the guy famous who chooses which TV shows to put on every night. You’re like, “Whoa! I love when they put two episodes of The Simpsons on in a row and then Family Guy. This is obviously the work of Gene Meyers. I’m a huge fan.” You know what the worst part is? Some totally decent songs by Cat Power, Le Tigre, and The Cure got remixed right into retardation on this album.-Hercules Rockefeller, Jr.

Ris Paul Ric

Purple Blaze

Academy Fight Song

****

It’s true, Q And Not U broke up last fall. Yeah, bummer. Still, if your band’s going to st, Power was a hell of an album to go out on. That said, fans of D.C.’s favorite sons need not pout too long-all three members have new projects in the works. Indeed, singer/guitarist Christopher Richards’ new solo joint, Ris Paul Ric, is already upon us. Back in January 2005, while his former band was taking time off between tours, Richards went to Ottawa, Ontario to work with the electronic musician/producer Tim Hacker (Alien 8). The result is Purple Blaze, a surprisingly delicate departure from the angsty, angular dance punk of his former band.

Showcasing influences as disparate as Suicide, Prince, and Elliott Smith (particularly on tracks like “Hanging From The Grapevines,” “Run Up Wild On Me,” and “The Sleeparound”), the album doesn’t have a bad song on it. Hecker’s subtle, seamless production (hushed vocals, delayed guitars, slight bass, field recordings, and minimal percussion) beautifully reins everything in. Though Richards himself has characterized Ris Paul Ric as more of a stopgap measure than his “life’s calling,” with a debut as good as this, that’s exactly what it may very well become.-Arlie Carstens

Attractive

Attractive

Welcome Home

**

Listening to Attractive, you’d be surprised to know that three out of five band members used to be in Snapcase. It’s almost as if Kerry King were to leave Slayer to pursue a career as a folk singer. You’d be hurt and kind of confused at first, but then eventually you’d forgive Kerry and just realize that he’s following his heart. I’m not saying that Kerry King is leaving Slayer or anything, it was just a hypothetical situation used as a comparison. Okay? Calm down.

I’m no huge fan of modern hardcore, and in my opinion the best thing that Snapcase ever did was a Misfits cover, but when I compare its sound to Attractive I sort of have to scratch my head. This music is so … I don’t know … adult? No, not quite adult. This could be on the soundtrack to The OC or something. And while there are some totally decent hooks in here as well as some nice vocals courtesy of Joshua English (what is he, some sort of secret agent?), on the whole, Attractive’s self-titled album is fairly uninspired and bland. This music feels somehow, um, harmless.-Andreas Trolf

State Of The Ark

State Of The Ark

EMI

***

I’ll be perfectly honest here, okay? When I saw this album cover, with the band members posing like that (look at it right now-don’t you want to punch them?), I thought this album was going to be a rotten piece of shit.

But guess what? These dudes made a killer album. Honestly. State Of The Ark is good. Sure, it’s a bit overdone at times, suffering maybe from a bit of the old self-importance, but the music is damn fine. It’s weird because I can’t really pigeonhole these guys. What is it, disco-rock? It’s actually quite glam. I can hear influences ranging from Elton John and The Cure to Bowie and maybe even Meatloaf. There’s a bit of electronic stuff going on too, but it’s balanced out nicely with driving guitars and tambourines and somewhat intelligent lyrics. You can dance to this, but not in that stupid dance-club way. You should probably wait until the DJ puts this on, and then go up to that girl you like and ask her if she wants a drink. Go ahead. Do it. What’s the worst that could happen? She’ll say no? Don’t be so afraid of rejection. You’ve got to learn to live with it eventually. -Andreas Trolf

Bigg Jus

Poor People’s Day

Mush Records

****

I remember one time on a road trip to Louisville, Kentucky how my friend Damian criticized my music selection by calling it “racist” for not representing artists in possession of melanin. I pointed out to him that I had a bunch of Bad Brains albums with me, but he didn’t want to hear it. I think he was just calling me out for not listening to a lot of hip-hop. Screw that dude, though.

I listen to plenty of hip-hop. But just like most of the music I prefer to listen to, it has to be intelligent. I’m no fan of commercial hip-hop and the ballin’ lifestyle. Just give me a Bigg Jus album any day, and I’ll be stoked. This is a killer concoction of jazzy samples, heavy beats, and wise lyricism. Jus’ lyrics turn our attention to the plight of the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden in tightly structured rhymes, filled with cogent observations.

In case anyone feels like keeping score: intelligence and soul-1, minstrel shows-0.-Andreas Trolf

We Are Scientists

With Love And Squalor

Virgin Records

**

Oh, We Are Scientists, who are you, really? Your press kit’s entirely devoid of useful information. Where did you come from? What thoughts and events inspire your songs? And more importantly, why are you rehashing the hash so many others have served before you? According to your bio, y’all are a pack of dudes newly residing in New York City, but beyond that y’all don’t have much to say about your debut With Love And Squalor.

And maybe that was the smart choice. You’ll be happy to know that having no true knowledge of your influences or history has allowed this reviewer to give your album a thorough, open-minded listen. The drummer kicks ass (or is that just the producer doing a bang-up job on the old Pro Tools rig?), and the bassist is capable enough. However, singer/guitarist Keith Murry sounds like he’s cribbing from The Bends-era Radiohead chord book (by way of Franz Ferdinand), and lyrically, each song is an exercise in overwrought banality. Apparently, Mr. Murray hates his dead scene, hates that he drinks too much, and it seems he feels he doesn’t get enough attention. Yawn central. At best, this is the work of lab technicians.-Arlie Carstens

Sex Slaves

Bite Your Tongue

Radical Records

*

Here’s a one-act play I wrote called Please Kill Us (The Story Of The Sex Slaves).

Eric 13 “Dudes, I have a great idea.”

Del Cheetah “What?”

Eric 13 “We should start a band so we can score some chicks.”

Del Cheetah “Whoa, awesome! Let’s write songs about doing it.”

J. Bomb “And I’ll go get some leather pants!”

Eric 13 “Brilliant!”

Del Cheetah “I like what I’m hearing, broseph!”

J. Bomb “Can we take photos of chicks to put on our album?”

Eric 13 “That’s what I was thinking.”

Del Cheetah “And we can have awesome punker names!”

J. Bomb “Sweet, let’s ask our parents for some guitars. We can practice in my garage right after Hebrew school on Wednesday.”

God, these guys make me feel embarrassed for them. You just want to say to them, “Take it easy, Timmy. You don’t have to be so rock and roll all the time. And before you go off starting a band, you might want to learn how to play your instruments.” At best, the album cover is some decent J.O. material if you’re hard up. -Hercules Rockefeller, Jr.

Unearth

Our Days Of Eulogy

Eulogy Recordings

***

I wish that American metal bands would be more like European metal bands. Sure, sometimes the music is pretty similar and there are a bunch of American metal bands that I’m into, but when you compare U.S. metal to Europe’s canonical oeuvre, America falls somewhat short. Honestly, I can count the number of truly awesome metal bands from the U.S. on maybe one hand (bands that are currently playing: Slayer, High On Fire, Mastodon, Earlyman, The F-king Champs). Europe on the other hand (and yes, granted, it’s a continent and not a country, but geographically both cover roughly the same area), has given the world so much amazing metal that I can’t even really begin to talk about it all here. I’ll just mention the NWOBHM (look it up) and Norwegian black metal and leave it at that.

Returning to American metal, though … Unearth is pretty decent. I think what I most hold against them is that they’re a part of this hardcore/metal pastiche genre that so many misguided people are into these days. Also, they opened up for Slipknot, and everyone knows how much I hate those idiots. Actually, I kind of wish I were listening to High On Fire instead. no fan of commercial hip-hop and the ballin’ lifestyle. Just give me a Bigg Jus album any day, and I’ll be stoked. This is a killer concoction of jazzy samples, heavy beats, and wise lyricism. Jus’ lyrics turn our attention to the plight of the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden in tightly structured rhymes, filled with cogent observations.

In case anyone feels like keeping score: intelligence and soul-1, minstrel shows-0.-Andreas Trolf

We Are Scientists

With Love And Squalor

Virgin Records

**

Oh, We Are Scientists, who are you, really? Your press kit’s entirely devoid of useful information. Where did you come from? What thoughts and events inspire your songs? And more importantly, why are you rehashing the hash so many others have served before you? According to your bio, y’all are a pack of dudes newly residing in New York City, but beyond that y’all don’t have much to say about your debut With Love And Squalor.

And maybe that was the smart choice. You’ll be happy to know that having no true knowledge of your influences or history has allowed this reviewer to give your album a thorough, open-minded listen. The drummer kicks ass (or is that just the producer doing a bang-up job on the old Pro Tools rig?), and the bassist is capable enough. However, singer/guitarist Keith Murry sounds like he’s cribbing from The Bends-era Radiohead chord book (by way of Franz Ferdinand), and lyrically, each song is an exercise in overwrought banality. Apparently, Mr. Murray hates his dead scene, hates that he drinks too much, and it seems he feels he doesn’t get enough attention. Yawn central. At best, this is the work of lab technicians.-Arlie Carstens

Sex Slaves

Bite Your Tongue

Radical Records

*

Here’s a one-act play I wrote called Please Kill Us (The Story Of The Sex Slaves).

Eric 13 “Dudes, I have a great idea.”

Del Cheetah “What?”

Eric 13 “We should start a band so we can score some chicks.”

Del Cheetah “Whoa, awesome! Let’s write songs about doing it.”

J. Bomb “And I’ll go get some leather pants!”

Eric 13 “Brilliant!”

Del Cheetah “I like what I’m hearing, broseph!”

J. Bomb “Can we take photos of chicks to put on our album?”

Eric 13 “That’s what I was thinking.”

Del Cheetah “And we can have awesome punker names!”

J. Bomb “Sweet, let’s ask our parents for some guitars. We can practice in my garage right after Hebrew school on Wednesday.”

God, these guys make me feel embarrassed for them. You just want to say to them, “Take it easy, Timmy. You don’t have to be so rock and roll all the time. And before you go off starting a band, you might want to learn how to play your instruments.” At best, the album cover is some decent J.O. material if you’re hard up. -Hercules Rockefeller, Jr.

Unearth

Our Days Of Eulogy

Eulogy Recordings

***

I wish that American metal bands would be more like European metal bands. Sure, sometimes the music is pretty similar and there are a bunch of American metal bands that I’m into, but when you compare U.S. metal to Europe’s canonical oeuvre, America falls somewhat short. Honestly, I can count the number of truly awesome metal bands from the U.S. on maybe one hand (bands that are currently playing: Slayer, High On Fire, Mastodon, Earlyman, The F-king Champs). Europe on the other hand (and yes, granted, it’s a continent and not a country, but geographically both cover roughly the same area), has given the world so much amazing metal that I can’t even really begin to talk about it all here. I’ll just mention the NWOBHM (look it up) and Norwegian black metal and leave it at that.

Returning to American metal, though … Unearth is pretty decent. I think what I most hold against them is that they’re a part of this hardcore/metal pastiche genre that so many misguided people are into these days. Also, they opened up for Slipknot, and everyone knows how much I hate those idiots. Actually, I kind of wish I were listening to High On Fire instead. Oh well. -Andreas Trolf

UPCOMING RELEASES:

We See The Future (So You Don’t Have To)

January 24, 2006

Cat Power, The Greatest

Andrew W.K., Who Knows? (DVD)

The Crystal Method, London (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye

February 21, 2006

Bad Religion, Live At The Palladium (DVD)

Later In February 2006

J Dilla (a.k.a. Jay Dee), Donuts

ad. Oh well. -Andreas Trolf

UPCOMING RELEASES:

We See The Future (So You Don’t Have To)

January 24, 2006

Cat Power, The Greatest

Andrew W.K., Who Knows? (DVD)

The Crystal Method, London (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Robert Pollard, From A Compound Eye

February 21, 2006

Bad Religion, Live At The Palladium (DVD)

Later In February 2006

J Dilla (a.k.a. Jay Dee), Donuts