A Lot Of The Old-Wavers, A Lot Of The Cheaters: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 79
Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to pick out what you like (or dislike) about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much.
Drum Machine - What Is A Demo? - Saucepan Records - 7 songs - cassette
The quickest description of this band is that it's basically a continuation of Folded Shirt: Larry on vocals, Mr. Terry California on guitar, and Steve Peffer on bass, with drummer Allie replaced by Richard (from Real Regular, Rubber Mate, etc., etc.). And, again, to quickly sum it up, it is in many ways reminiscent of F/S. That is not to say, however, that Drum Machine don't have their own thing going on, because they definitely do. Genre-wise, sure, you can say it's experimental punk or whatever, but there's lots of lounge and jazz elements in here. Richard doesn't play drum machine by the way, he plays real percussion. And I don't mean just drums, either, I mean there's a glockenspiel or something on here. And he can do it live, too, I've seen proof. Maybe he's the drum machine. Or maybe that's supposed to be obvious and I'm just stupid. Or maybe the name of the band has nothing to do with Richard at all. No song titles are listed here, so I've done my best to make them up. I'm sure they're all completely incorrect. "Wander Around" really brings out the lounge-punk descriptor. "Another Boring Show" is a pretty anthemic tune, very relatable. "Shoulda stayed at home" indeed. There's some real groovy sounds going on with "Just Look Down." It's evident that these guys really know how to play with/against one another. My favorite here is perhaps "Everybody Should Die," which might be the most "punk" of the bunch. It's a sort of semi-goofy but also disturbing tune ("No God…No Narcan…No 911!") very much in the same way that F/S's "Eleven And A Bucket" is. I wonder what Larry said in the part that's backwards. I'm pretty sure "Wipe Your Third Eye" is actually called "Golden Shower," but I think that's a dumb name (not that what I've got is any better). The lyrics are conspiracy theory-oriented, who'd've guessed? "Earth is flat, so's your head." "Slow" starts off sounding like Counter Intuits, but that gets lost very quickly. They really are based in lounge/jazz, and I think I've seen them billing themselves as "Cleveland's quietest band" or something like that. The final track here is "What The Hell Is That?," which features not only some great musical call-and-response, but also vocal call-and-response between Larry and Terry. So what is a demo? I don't know. This, apparently. And it's a pretty good one at that. 4/5
(I heard this is sold out from Saucepan already– catch the band live or try Hausfrau Record Shop for a copy)
Maggots And Leeches - Maggots And Leeches - self-released - 6 songs - cassette, download
Maggots And Leeches is an electronic music duo, and here's the thing about that: I always feel, on the occasions that this comes up, that I am not the right person to be reviewing electronic music. Not because of a distaste for the genre or anything, just because I don't really know that much about it so I'm kind of at a loss for interesting things to say. "Init" is a good opening track, it's a slow build into a more intense thing and then back into the void. I was thinking when "A Permanent Gap" started that I could see it as background music in a short film about something of societal importance, but as it went on I started thinking, "no, wait: a spy movie." When I think of the equator, first I think hot and then I think the Sparks song, neither of which come to mind in "From A House On The Equator." Well, maybe some of the synths in there have a bit of an "overbearing heat" feel, but is that even intentional or am I just making that up because that's what I was looking for? Sometimes I get a bit lost when songs have no words. The thing about this kind of music is that what I'm wanting to get out of it is a certain kind of mood; I want it to be noticeably dark, or intense, or cold, and the thing about this tape is that I'm just not getting that, and, in fact, a lot of these songs operate in the same space in that regard. However, the closing track here, "A Temporary Gap," is almost a little cheery! That high synth adds a little bit of optimism to the end of this cassette. Now, here's the other thing: I was told by a member of this group that they've since added an additional member and they sound very different now. So, take that into consideration as well. This is well put together, well played electronic music, it's just the kind of thing that's a bit outside my scope. My hope from this review that those of you reading who would like this can tell that you would like it, if that makes sense. Final verdict: not gross or buggy enough to be calling themselves Maggots And Leeches. 3/5
Pine Taar - Stick It In & Twist - Saucepan Records / Noncommercial Records - 7 songs - cassette, download
Despite the name and the fact this is on Saucepan, this is not actually a baseball-themed band at all. The vocalist (and thus, I would assume, the lyricist) is Paulito, of Inmates/Cider/etc. fame, so you can already guess the general lyrical content and just how positive and polite it is. Pretty good early '80s hardcore sound throughout the tape. The way this band seems to be getting described is "east coast," but the first thing that actually came to my mind was a more local influence (shocking, I know). Sorta reminds me of some of "The New Hope" kind of bands– bit of The Guns, bit of Zero Defex, bit of Agitated, ya know? "I Declare War" is a good opening track (I mean, just look at the title– how else are you gonna start your tape?), "You Dissed Me, You Fuck!" is a pretty great tune throughout, and you know you wanna hear Paul shout "let's do this, Mickey!" They slow it down some for "Garbage Town" and it works very well for them, and Richard (who's usually on drums, but not here– Drew from Vanilla Poppers/The Cowboy fills that role) does a nice dissonant guitar solo. Altogether, a solid tape. Worth checking out for fans of the genre and definitely worth checking out if you're into local type stuff. 3.5/5
(saucepanrecords.bandcamp.com to download, email@example.com for the tape)
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.