Columns - "Under the Radar" 03.01.03

Long time, no-see-um!
Been busy. I'm a busy man, just like Monoman and the band that actually wrote the song. Thought I'd pop in and perpetrate some piss poor puerile ponderings and alliteration. Hodey-yo!
So, what's new with you? If yer like me, you were overwhelmed with the bounty of sometime-around-October, and the Hunches/Piranhas/Lost Sounds/just name it release wave. Right now, I'm just sitting around (I may have fudged about the "busy" thang) waxing my ear-boards and waiting for the next Kahuna. Caught onto the Clone Defects and Final Solutions ripples, and dipped my toes into sum Black Lip 'n Tears 'n Lids action (Atlanta? The next Detroit/Wisconsin/Pac N'west?).
Going back to the around-October thing & the 'Defects & the whole In the Red current (ha! Everybody’s gone surfin'...) just-past oeuvre -- to my fuzzy head, In the Red has at-least-matched the best label-action brought to you by the 90's Kings, mid-period Crypt and Rip Off. This ain't news to a hepped-in cat (such as yerself), but think about it -- neither Crypt nor Rip Off had the range (from Piranhas Clevo-art-damage to Reigning Sound post-Stones balladry) or the massive output, so that's gotta' make a good case for In the Red circa 2002-2003 as the Best Label in Decades. The variety factor has made this issue cloudy, in that there was a decided "movement" and uniformity with Rip Off and Crypt that's missing w/ ITR -- dunderheads may find this hard to detect, but again (Mr./Ms. hepped-in cat), Larry Hardy is cherry-picking the best bands in the country while former top dogs seem to be floundering or folding. And the upcoming releases are anything but potential slouches.
Music, music, music. Who can sit around for hours and babble about a subjective and intangible thinger like pushing sound arrangements outta' tubes 'n cones & brush-painting 'em onto polyvinyl? That would be me! Lately, I've found myself fairly obsessed with Alexander "Skip" Spence's "Oar" album. It ain't "neoteric" or "neo-neu wave" or "neo-recorded-within-the-last-thirty-years." Shit, it's barely rock and/or roll. Skip was crazy as a hootenanny, fresh offa' Moby Grape, and in the mood for some, uh, acoustico-solo meanderings. The atmosphere created has to be one of the most personal I've ever heard, and the, they's just ducky. "Little Hands" (which is the lead-off track) is as good a tune as I've heard in years, and the rest is nearly as golden.
Which brings me to a local trend that (I dunno') may be happening elsewhere, all Zeitgeist-like -- punk rock ('n roll) "songwriters" picking up acoustic guitars and playing coffee houses 'n recording solo tapes. It's all the rage in the Land of Cheese, it seems. Haven't heard anything that rivals Ol' Skipper, but I do know that Jordan Davis of the Mystery Girls has a solo record coming out in 2003 on Dale "Hawkwind" Merrill's Bancroft records, and that it's both swell and Skip-damaged. I was also surprised to see the Figgs recently (the most underrated live band on Earth for about a decade running, BTW) touring with an acoustic dude who used to be in some Victory hardcore band & covered the Misfits' "Bullet" (pretty well, I may add).
Don't mind me, I'm justaramblin'. Did you hear about the Stooges reunion (w/ Mike Watt) in April? Fuck! A little lead-time, boys.
Festival (said like that dude on that one show, "fesss-TEE-vaal")! It seems like the LA Shakedown was more like the LA Letdown (with quips like that, I could write for Salon!), and that the best thing going at SXSW remains the anti-SXSW shows, but lemme tell ya' where to go if you don't wanna' be let down -- the Chicago Blackout. Seriously -- you want to see some of the best bands in the country before they've skidded miles past their peak? You like pizza? How about young Philipino boys? If your answer to any of the above is a resounding "kinda'," then check out the action at
Finally, my year-end albums list, for the two people who wrote asking where it was (note: my personal number one album cannot be mentioned, due to ethical considerations, but I'm sure you can figger it out):
1.  A-Frames "S/T" - You can call it whatever you want, young android, but this 'un boils down to GREAT TUNES.
2.  Hunches "Yes. No. Shut it." - I'm one of the few non-fans of the production job on here, but their energy & power cannot be denied.
3.  Lost Sounds "Rat's Brains and Microchips" - Almost as good as "Black Wave," which was last year's #1.
4.  Sailors "Play Turning the Other Cheek" - Funny! Fun! Catchy! Offensive!
5.  Reigning Sound "Time Bomb High School" - Definitely a grower that'll most likely move up a few rungs looking back. Still like side two better, but the "puss" stuff's also reet.
6.  Kill-A-Watts "Electrorock" - Perfect distillation of all that is Rip Off, flattened and shaped into a handy disk-paste.
7.  Leg Hounds "Date Your Daughters" - Fun! Fuck the sour-puss detractors! In one of the objectionable hole-spots!
8.  Dan Melchior's Broke Revue "Bitterness, Rage, Spite & Scorn" - Another grower that's got me waterin' fer more.
9.  Piranhas "Erotic Grit Movies" - Where's the songs? Shit, I ain't never gonna' complain about the Piranhas sound, so never you mind no pop-sense dip, you. No.
10. Crimson Sweet "Livin' in Strut" - Thought I quickly sickened of this CD after the initial fun-burn, but a recent repeat listen confirmed that it's a goodie.
How about your World Famous label, Trick Knee Productions, Mr. Trickknee? Glad ya' asked! Tears album out in April; Catholic Boys album out in May. Catholic Boys and Mystery Girls on tour RIGHT NOW, Tears hitting the South, Midwest & East Coast in June. How's that?
Leave me alone:

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