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C ... is for Chord

Review Archive:
Various Artists

Caboto Nauta
Astral projection isn't all that hard if you try. Think about it: Your eye in the sky is one big cosmic break up of ten million other life forms, beaming their instructions and casserole recipes down to you and all you have to do is be open enough to reciprocate. It also helps if you are relaxed enough and have a good radio next to you playing groovy tunes that lush out the starlight and into infinity. I gotta feeling that Caboto here is just the ideal sound you may need to transform this notion into some convex preamble of talking to the outer rim. It couldn't hurt, too, that they are from Italy and recorded Nauta in gorgeous Senigallia. So I guess it all fits into place huh? Well, the point I am trying to get here dear reader is that I totally enjoyed this release for several reasons. One being the fact that inside the rock that occurs here and there, there is this underlying simplistic tone that both relaxes and invigorates. It takes a few listens, but it is there. Then there is the fact that, yes, they can turn up the amp stack and rock out for a bit. It's that decent balance that I really appreciated. Not too many bands, or even people, so this on a regular basis. Let's hope that Caboto can keep it up and remain in light. Because a quasar is only as far away as you want it to be. Beyond that, science can only foretell a certain amount and telescopes can only reach so far. Hmm ... maybe I should lay off the glue sniffing. Scenester Records MW 4.15.2003

The Casket Lottery Survival Is for Cowards
Some people spend their whole lives trying to recapture a single, defining moment. Others scramble to recollect many different experiences and feelings throughout their lives, hoping that the replication of good times will bring similar feelings of optimism and solace. The Casket Lottery remind me of the feeling I had seeing a band I'd never heard of called Sunny Day Real Estate play in a tiny record store to 15 people before their now-classic Diary album came out. I'll never forget being such close witness to music so life-affirming. Or the first time I heard Mineral and was filled with an overwhelming sense of hope in a world of hopelessness. Or the anticipation of seeing another live band play with heaps of emotion and being able to say to myself: "I believed that. That was real." Therefore, The Casket Lottery are a great band, and many will rejoice at the chance to reclaim a small part of their lives while forging entirely new memories at the same time. Second Nature Recordings JS

The Casket Lottery Choose Bronze
Very nicely designed package. Great harmonies and musicianship (especially the drummer). This band seems to exemplify everything about a great emo band. They are aggressive and seem to be constantly pushing thmesleves. A poppier, more modern, spunkier version of Sunny Day Real Estate. Second Nature Recordings MH/AH

Caulfield's Aside Last Minute EP
This album made me think of all the morons in the world, conceited sonuvabitches always getting in my face. I got so goddam mad I almost broke the lousy jewel case against the wall. It reminded me of when I was in college with these people who thought they so goddam perfect. My manager at the lousy college radio station warned us at the beginning of term not to "get wasted" during our shows. That killed me. What a phony. He was always getting high during his hip-hop shows, but wanted us to think he had straightened out his act now that he was a manager and all this Polyanna crap. So, one night I brought in a bunch of friends to the studio, made margaritas and talked for two hours to some activist for marijuana legalization who would ramble on for about things that didn't make sense. I taped the whole show and still got an "A" from my teacher. That killed me. School is for phonies. Tree of Woe Records RG

Cellblock 5 & White Trash Debutantes What's It All About
The girl in fatigues on the cover of this record is pictured playing with dolls. See, that's fun. Punk rock forgets that sometimes it's good to just sit a spell and comb Barbie's hair. The photos of both bands printed inside are proof that both enjoy fun. Whether they're rocking onstage, drinking beer, or standing around looking cool, these two musical powerhouses are obviously seekers of mirth. However, the winner of fun would be the White Trash Debutantes because they have wacky false names and have chicks in the band who wear only underwear. That's utter funosity! See, even if you have a bad day, say you haven't found a decent cup of coffee but you have to go onstage anyway, and you're all bummed out but you have to rock, you'll require inspiration. Then you look over at your fellow bandmate, clad in bra and panties and you realize that life, even in it's most disappointing moments, is a real hoot. Orange Peal Records RG 1.18.2002

Cerberus Shoal Mr. Boy Dog
Cerberus Shoal have always been a strange band. Even when they were on the emo-hardcore tip in the mid-'90s, there was still something odd about their delivery. With each subsequent release (and really, who can keep track?) they've just gotten weirder and weirder. It's no surprise then, that with this double disc set, Mr. Boy Dog, it has come time for the Portland, Maine band to plummet into an unexplored void of strangeness. First off, each disc is less than 40 minutes long, which means the double disc package is merely for aesthetic purposes as everything could have been crammed onto one disc. If anything, the switch over between CDs leaves time for reflection on what was just heard, and with too much reflection listeners might never be able to explain it. Mostly instrumental and hauntingly beautiful, the sounds here run the gamut of emotions, genres, and vibes. The six players use too many different instruments to list, but horns, percussion and bass guitar are the most frequent channels of communication. While Cerberus Shoal has alienated a lot of listeners with each new release, they open doors to new and enthralling sounds like no other band in the underground, and that counts for a whole lot more than any attempts at being listener-friendly. Mr. Boy Dog is perfect for a cross-country train trip or a night on the back porch when it is too hot to sleep. Temporary Residence Limited JS

Charlie Brown Gets A Valentine Commencement
FINALLY! A band name that strikes a chord and actually outlives the product in which it is representing. Oops, now ... I didn't mean to dis the band, but, I will say this: CBGAV is no more than your standard guy power punk-ish rock with vocal stylings that punctuate ol' Billie Joe of Green Day, yet a bit less snotty if you catch my drift. I mean, c'mon, you've seen these blokes at the club, pounding out the fret dangling chord progressions, pissing off the floor staring shaggys that await instructions from the next disillusioned band to step up and depress the rest of us who know darn well life is easy but damn if it don't make no sense. Lighten up Brad, it gets worse! So have fun. Anyway, Charlie Brown Gets A Valentine is a heartfelt and grand name for a band and I applaud madly in their general direction. Good work boys. Lets all go fishing and I'll provide the sandwiches. Just, please, don't bring along a recent demo for me to get a gander of, because, really, I've heard it all before and I really wanna like you all after this trip is over. When a buddy came over to borrow a cup o' sugar, I laid this thing down on him. Now (unfortunately) he hails such bands as Alien Ant Farm and System of a Down as "great," so his opinion I trust only on the level that he appreciates Sabbath and early Metallica, and he had this to say: "Not bad. Well, you know ... I wouldn't kick them outta bed!" With that, he started to laugh. It was then that I realized that his eyes were burning red and he kept complaining about cottonmouth. Right! So we leaned back and listened more. Pretty soon the bland pop punk-esque grew thin and we tossed on some Electric Wizard and rocked out. Great name though. Good job! Wyndel Records MW 1.18.2002

The Chase Theory In Pursuit of Excellence
They claim to be In Pursuit of Excellence, and I think they're almost there. The fifteenth release from One Day Savior records is a nice one. The Chase Theory finally put out an EP of their own (they had appeared on Emo Diaries Chapter 3 on Deep Elm and other comps), and the band has come together nicely. Matthew Burke's vocals are refreshing, and the band's straight rock is addictively melodic. Danny Burke's vocals back up nicely and create an almost atmospheric effect at times. Too abrasive to be emo, not straight enough to be guitar rock, not poppy enough for punk, The Chase Theory is just good. In Pursuit of Excellence is a quality record from a band whose limited resume may belie their real experience. Overall, the Chase Theory's first release is worth picking up, and One Day Savior did a good job to snag these guys on what deserves to be an upswing. One Day Savior CS

Che Chapter 127 Profit Prophet
There is an angry dyke lead singer, some older guy on guitar and three punks to back them up here. Che Chapter 127 is a heavy yet strange mix of politically-charged rock mixed with heaviness, aggression, and the before mentioned amenities that make this an interesting package. None of the songs really stand out. In fact, the best part about them was the sound bites before each one of political rallies, speeches, and basic yelling and anger at the unjust world. Still though the lyrics are smart and the tunes taught so I have no real complaints. My personal feelings are moot because I am almost a-political and was this angry at social wrongs for a minute or so before I realized being uninvolved means deeming my own revolution. But don't tell the folks here. They're libel to kick my pansy ass across the border just because I won't set myself on fire for the cause. Oh well. Just as long as I'm included I guess. G7 Welcoming Committee MW 4.15.2003

Chinkees Peace Through Music
Anti-racism ska/punk with a racist title. Well, they can get away with it seeing as they are all Asian, but, you know -- do your thing. It's like African American bands that use the word "nigga" or us white folks who call each other "honky." It works on a glib sense, but it always comes across as vapid attention getting before drifting off into obscurity. Regardless, this band is tight and does a great job rockin' quick step ska and jazzing it with a punk tune now and then. No lyrics printed inside, rather they equip us with a story of how each song evolved or a story behind them. It's cool. It's all about the message, you know. Yeah. Go Chinkees, go! Unfortunately, racism will never go away, but it is good to know that at least six people in a band are doing their part to help the cause against it while leting us dance in the meantime. Asian Man Records MW

Noam Chomsky The New War on Terrorism: Fact or Fiction
Anyone curious about what Chomsky had to say post-9/11 need look no further than this spoken word disc recorded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in October, 2001. As per his normal genius, the elderly scholar looks at the war on terrorism from the direct opposite perspective of the mainstream media. He examines how the US and Europe have been the real terrorists for hundreds of years, explaining that the Twin Towers attack was one of few isolated incidents where the attack was reversed and the terrorists were no longer us. It's a brilliant set-up to a lengthy and involved speech that sticks to the regular Chomsky style of delivering the facts in a dry, pointed style. It's always amazing to listen to Chomsky select his words; his linguistic background is hard at work here as he carefully plucks the perfect vocabulary combos to explain why the US is so hated in the rest of the world. Sure, there's a lot of info here, and a lot of depressing, horrible incidents of genocide and terror to be exposed to, but it's a learning experience of the tallest order. Folks who are still having a hard time understanding how the world has become so fucked in the past few years will find a thorough explanation here. Alternative Tentacles/AK Press JS

Cipher Protoculture – Christian chugga chugga rock that's so fifth-generation it's laughable. Come on guys, have you looked at your calendars lately? Yes, 1993 is long past, and you need to get up to speed with the current day; a time when bad, hardly heavy hardcore like this hits the recycling bin faster than you can say, "There ain't no god." Amen. JS

Closer Than Kin / None But Burning – A split disc between two bands who seem to have buddied up on a recent batch of shows, although the explanation is basically undecipherable. Closer Than Kin play straight edge hardcore as generic as it gets, complete with the perfectly placed breakdowns, monotone vocals, and inklings of metal riffery here and there. None But Burning are a bit fresher, and even bring to mind tolerable bands like Grade and Hot Water Music at times. Not a must-hear band by any means, but they did put some much needed brightness and energy into this mostly junk-heap production. Fleshban Records JS

Coalition The Ignition: From Friction to Fire
Youth crew gang vocals hardcore. Seven songs running together to sound like one ... weak vocals ... cliched lyrics ... those same chords and riffs heard too many times to count ... a wonderfully droll listen. Three cheers for the 18-minute EP! Smorgasbord Records JS

Alexander Cockburn Beating the Devil
Alexander Cockburn is to the extreme left like Rush Limbaugh is to the right. He writes for The Nation, New York Press, and the Anderson Valley Advertiser and has been doing this since before you were even born I bet. So it's no surprise that Jello Biafra tapped him to do a spoken word CD for his label which seems to be the new punk rock with it's information, anger and general spit without the 2-2 measured speed rock we all know and love about the scene. Cockburn, in all of his British wit and witticism, comes across as your proper uncle gone global with too many interesting points made about weapons trade, politics, war, the '60s and general naughtiness that goes on in the multi-trillion dollar market of government shams and smokescreens. It is like a great lecture you were glad to show up to and brought your recorder as to refresh your memory because you were almost too enthralled with his presence and format of structural shakedown to really notice the point. So it is your job to pick this up and get involved. Or not. You may be happier in ignorance than listen to Alexander go on about things you know happen but don't REALLY want to know. Either way ... we win and lose. AK Press/Alternative Tentacles Records MW 4.2003

Cock Sparrer Runnin Riot Across the USA
When I was in college, I got an internship with Alternative Tentacles Records, which as many hardcore fans might recognize, is owned by Jello Biafra. It was a cool job, mailing stickers and T-shirts and listening to college radio around the small apartment Jello had turned into a bustling indie record company. I got free CDs and T-shirts, and got into shows for free. The only crappy thing was how much my manager hated me. For a punk working for a punk label she was a bit high-strung. One day she asked me in a snide tone, "You probably like Sea and Cake, huh." Well, I did, and do actually. This admission was quite uncool to her so she turned up her Built to Spill EP and went back to work. I resumed calling record stores around the US. I don't know what she thought I'd done that was so awful. I guess I wasn't impressed enough that I was working for Jello Biafra with musicians like Gary Floyd just stopping by. One day I did meet Biafra. He was looking a bit disheveled and was carrying a lot of bags and things. I was told two things about him privately: never let him know you have a car (he will always want a ride) and never loan him money. My favorite errand for AT was visiting the warehouse of distributor Mordam Records. Those guys really had it made. Packing 45's and tapes into boxes with college radio blasting really loud in a much larger room. Next to Mordam employees, I was merely a fetus. They were the real deal. I could've been there all day, but eventually had to return to the girl who didn't like me. Oh, Mordam also distributes TKO Records which released this live album from Cock Sparrer. The press release says this album will be an absolute must for any Cock Sparrer fan. I'd say that's true enough. Live albums exist almost primarily for pre-existing fans of the group. Except for Frampton Comes Alive, which anyone can dig, from your grandma to a little fetus like me. TKO Records RG

A Common Thread Blind Solution
The cover of this 7" by Birmingham's A Common Thread proclaims the band as "positive hardcore," and one look at lyrics like "a small step in a forward direction to make a change is better than a futile thought wasted in vain. We'll make the difference" certainly reinforces this.
Musically, they're quick, punchy, danceable youth-crew hardcore with lots of gang shout-outs made for singing along. I can imagine that they've probably got quite a local following in Birmingham and that kids have a great time at their shows. While most "posi-core" has never been my cup of tea, I can still appreciate the fun, unpretentious accessibility that posi kids bring to their music. If you're a fan of this style, I really can't think of a reason not to get this record. Fleshban Records BD

Contempt One Justice
Allen remembers getting thier demo about six years ago at a Canton YMCA show. So far nothing has changed. They still stick to chugga chugga Syracuse-style and animal/vegan rights that was more popular back in the day. I would describe it as tiger metal since the vocals have that raw, well, tiger sound to them. Songs seem to be recorded in 1996, we wonder what they are doing now. Good entry-level hardcore band, especially if you're into animal rights. Catalyst Records MH/AH

Contender Hit Single 7"
Here's what you do: Take The Get Up Kids. Poke them in the eyes with sharp sticks. Repeat until they're thoroughly pissed off. Voila! You've got Contender. To be fair, this band is well on its way to breaking free of comparisons and establishing its own unique brand of alternative --no small accomplishment for their very first EP. On "Scenic Overlook," the Colorado foursome mixes melancholy melodies worthy of No Motiv with smart (if sometimes awkward) lyrics and unflagging energy. The guitar work is solid, and the vocals range from generic Billie Joe punk-pop to primal scream therapy, often within the same song; bonus points for the ambitious emotional and melodic reach, even when the technical mastery isn't quite there. (You've gotta admire a band that writes beyond its abilities ... far too many do the exact opposite.) They've just signed with Negative Progression Records, and are working on their first full-length release; the production values associated with a "real" label should certainly help to hone their sound for a larger audience. In a world of countless ho-hum punk-pop acts, they certainly are contenders. GW

The Control The Forgotten
In all vanities of the word, "hardcore" exists under the pleasure that kids in suburbia are way bored, way confused, and so full of aggression from the listless track housing landscape that the music scene will never go away. It had its heyday in the mid-'80s, maybe even just the early '80s, but the term still goes on. ... The Control have this vicinity and fist thrust the angst we all know and love in such a degree that the speakers turn white hot and sort of bend from the scream-core power noise these kids provide. Not for the weak-willed or just plain lame, The Forgotten is an EP (full-length coming soon) brimming with meat and blood, back alley beatdowns, and full rage that can only emanate from the teen dream of getting the hell OUTTA HERE!!! Life becomes even more complex afterward, but at least you have that choice to remain in light or not. The Control makes this apparent even with their name. The scene itself is still obvious if not so much squalor in its division of antics. But those crazy kids will still be crazy kids and I say fucking go for it man. It's your only and last chance. Go Kart Records MW

Corn Doggy Dog and the Half Pound Good Clean Filth
There is a line for the film Animal House that comes to mind: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life." Remember that part? Then Flounder threw up all over Dean Wormer's desk. Yeah. Now, I'm not saying that Corn Doggy Dog (cool name) and the Half Pound are indeed all of the afore mentioned adjectives, but I do believe a good portion of their following live up to that ideal. This is the kind of semi-hard/almost mad, adroit beer gut pub-rock that gets the shirtless fools sweaty, riles up a drunken body or two, inciting much flailing around and slurring along to the words, while trying to pick up a girl in feathered hair before puking on the sidewalk and then screaming "Wooo!" This album is pretty fun in that respect, by infecting dirt rock with basic punk while letting you know they also enjoy rap and some good honky tonk. But, it is missing some element of salability I just can't snap my fingers to. It's ambitious: 22 songs in almost and hour, but their fear of invention, sensitivity, and general lunkheadedness gets in the way. At the same time, maybe I should shut up and just have fun with it! Corn Doggy Dog is loud and a good time so check your craniums at the box office and ignore everything I've said. That's a good idea. Forget it. Long Beach Records MW

Count the Stars Never Be Taken Alive
For every almost passable Victory band, there are at least three others that suck a big knob. Count the Stars are of the sucking variety. Limp, lame emo-pop in the vein of, fuck, you know, all those shitty bands on TV right now. Again and again, this label proves they care more about money than signing bands with integrity (although they did, in fact, sign Integrity). Sure, there's a couple of head-bopping moments on Never Be Taken Alive, but I can turn on any shitty modern rock radio station and get the same result. Victory Records JS

Crash Smash Explode/The Secret Life Of Machines Split LP
Now here's a novel concept: a split twelve-inch LP that plays at the normal speed of a seven-inch (45 rpm). It's an unusual bit of formatting, and, not surprisingly, the music contained within is just as innovative. Crash Smash Explode's side showcases a hardcore punk band that's willing to experiment with occasional computer bleeps-and-bloops, though the final result is strangely a little flat, lethargic and unmelodic. The Secret Life Of Machine's contribution, however, is a little more structured and there's a nice little organ run on the song "Two Meld To One". A mixed bag to be sure, and not to everyone's tastes, but its nice to see two bands trying to work beyond the confines of the hardcore genre. Bifocal Media ZH 4.15.2003

Craw Bodies for Strontium 90
This requires two separate reviews: One review for a world that includes The Jesus Lizard in its history books, and another review for one that does not. First, the non-Jesus Lizard review: Craw play quirky, inventive, challenging music. Vocalist Joe McTigh sounds like a drunken pirate with a carrot up his ass, spouting and spewing the oddest lyrics heard in a coon's age. The rhythm section is tight and precise, leaving room for the guitarist to deviate a little from the normal riff-riffery. Bodies for Strontium 90 is an inventive, frightful listen, thoroughly enjoyable in a bad nightmare sort of way. Okay, now the review including The Jesus Lizard: The Jesus Lizard lives! Those still mourning the death of the Chicago masters of quirk-core will cream over the latest from Cleveland's Craw; a masterful Lizard-alike release that will have David Yow considering a copyright infringement lawsuit. Hydra Head JS 7.2003

Cripple Bastards Misantropo a Senso Unico
Extreme Italian negative grind that kicks a lot of ass, despite the nihilist bent of the lyrics. Fifteen new songs in Italian, as well as re-recorded version of their 94-song demo which originally came out in 1993. You can't go wrong with a group whose band members have names like Giulio the Bastard, Alberto the Crippler, and Schintu the Wretched. They also have a thank you list that simply says, "Thanks to no fucker except ourselves." A wild, wild ride, assuming you don't get bucked off halfway through. Deaf American Recordings JS

Cripple Kid/The Little Dipper
Split CDs are a sensible idea for upstart bands like Cripple Kid and The Little Dipper. With the demo tape nearly extinct, it's much preferred to fill a disc with the better part of an hour's worth of demo style recordings, rather than the all too prevalent five-song CD-EPs that come a mile a minute. Less resources wasted on bad music, that's the bottom line. Less pieces of 5" round aluminum in the landfill when all is said and done. Cripple Kid are like the doe-eyed but dim offspring of Jawbreaker and Tiltwheel. Not the most desirable place to be right here, right now. The Little Dipper deliver their best Promise Ring/Get Up Kids send-off, but do it with remnants of flair and originality. A welcome surprise. Two demo tapes for the price of a CD, not a bad deal, but don't expect tip-top quality from this package. Microcosm Records JS

Cross My Heart Temporary Contemporary
I heard this band broke up? That is a shame since this is a great piece of work -- the indy/emo scene is definitely at loss for this is a great example of a mature and experienced band. Every part of this CD is great. Yes. Every part, cross my heart. They have their own sound that is backed up by solid musicianship and song writing, creating a mood and versatility where the listener doesn't get bored. From the very bluesy intro on the first song to some tight upbeat rhythms in "London Bridges" this release offers something others do not, variety.
The best part of the band has to be the vocalist, he could carry any band. Some of the catchiest lyrics I have heard. I love that I don't have to read the lyrics to understand what he is singing. Maybe if everyone buys this they will get back together and record again. Deep Elm Records AH

Crosstide Self-Titled
This is like a nice walk through the park, all alone, wrapped in a thick jacket and thinking about the most recent breakup. At times, Crosstide takes you by the hand and starts running, but, overall, their quiet "hard" rock incites foggy afternoons spent looking out the window, cheap wine while writing poetry and slowly nodding your head when you catch them down at the club. Fans of Elliot should take note and definitely check these guys out. Rather than overt sadness to drive the tunes, they imbue a confident energy which sways the tracks into sub ether tones backed by a humming amp and rock ethic. Still, images of lonliness kept coming up. Maybe that's what they want. Maybe I'm going about this all wrong. Whatever the case may be, the album is full of great shots of WWII airplanes in flight and battle. Not that I like war or anything. Oh, forget it. Chapel Hill Records MW

Eddie Culjak Climb
Eddie has "one man and his guitar" syndrome. The assumption is that he recorded these five songs on his own, playing all of the instruments, but confirmation on that is impossible since the liner notes tell nothing. Mr. Culjack, however, does find the room for a rather large bar code on this CD-R, which begs the question, "Since when do the mega-corporate record stores and other scan-friendly retail outlets sell burned demo CDs?" Also confusing is a lack of any kind of contact info, creating a shroud of mystery around this side-burned weirdo. Songs jump from emo pop punk to sappy love ballads, and then back again. Climb is a hopelessly lost look into the world of self-indulgent teen angst. Someone should put Eddy out of his misery, and confiscate his CD burner while they're at it. JS

Cursive Burst and Bloom
Only Cursive could get away with "Sink to the Beat," with lyrics referring to their "DC sound, Shudder to Think, Fugazi and Chapel Hill around the early '90s." It could only be a poke at sloppy and lazy comparisons made by their critics, as they burst (and bloom) through five angular, yet attractive songs that should make everyone sit up and take notice. Until now, Cursive was always one of those bands on the verge of something musically meaningful. They straddled the fine line between background music and the soundtrack to your life. That line has been erased in one fell swoop, as "Burst and Bloom" deserves to push them into everyone's personal headspace. The addition of a cello player and songs that blow earlier material from the water bodes well for this band's future. Who knows to what levels their next full-length album will take them. Saddle Creek JS

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