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Review Archive:
Various Artists

Dag Nasty Minority Of One
So I remember listening to Dag Nasty like a long time ago. First year of high school if I recall correctly. Hmm. We were all bummed out that Minor Threat was all broken up (even though we/I hated their last two releases) but stoked that Brian Baker took up with a new band. And we liked them, "we" being the suburban skate punks who were a minority of a dozen in Salinas, Calif. Not as fast and groundbreaking as Minor Threat, but then what could be? Their quick licks and frantic yet accessible music made us all smile amidst our repressed youth and angry at not much stance. But then, whammo! they took off too. Then Brian Baker went off to the Sunset Strip and palled around with some neo hair band and made this ridiculous album that I won't even mention here. Mainly because I can't remember it. Then he hooked up with Bad Religion and all was well again. He made some cash and decided, like all good aging rockers, to get together with your old bros and make one last record before slipping off to do ... whatever. I don't know. Get married and talk around the hearth at Xmas going "Hey man, remember when…?" The album in question here, Minority Of One, is a Dag Nasty reunion that could have been cool but went nowhere fast for me. They should just drop the whole punky deal and go straight for the emo throat. There was one good tune, "Your Words", which could be a single for them. But, beyond that ... eh. Good luck. Revelation Records MW 4.15.2003

Daryl Cherney & the Chernobles Bush It!
While I can appreciate the anti-Bush sentiment here, nobody really needs to hear Bush It! Featuring the ultra-geek vocals of Daryl Cherney, an Earth First! activist who was car-bombed (along with Judi Bari) in 1990, this two-song EP is purely a novelty listen. I'd like to see the title track slipped onto mainstream radio to shake things up a bit, but other than that, the stilted folk sounds with forced rhyming on this two-song EP are pretty much unlistenable. The second (and thankfully last) track is a polka number called "Send George Bush a Pretzel" and, by that point, anyone with even 50 percent hearing will be screaming for the exits. Alternative Tentacles Records JS 4.15.2003

Ben Davis The Hushed Patterns of Relief
When Ben found out he was going to be a father, he quit playing drums for Milemarker and prepared for his son's entry into the world. As a father he continued to write quiet songs, probably in the middle of the night when the wee one was sleeping, producing an album with nice melodies and an understated glow. Ben, who also played bass in the highly regarded Sleepytime Trio, has written ten lovely songs, through and through. With help from some of his closest friends, and interesting musicians, The Hushed Patterns of Relief is an endearing project bringing to mind the best things about community and helping other artists bring their personal songs to fruition. The chanting mantra of "What Drifters Will Do" stands out as the strongest track -- a truly haunting song without straying from its simplicity. Acoustic, lap steel, and electric guitars are used alongside organs, piano, bass, cello, and drums to create a wonderful portrait of a musician as a new father. Fatherhood is a wonderful thing, and this album is rightfully dedicated to Ben's son, probably the strongest influence on the beauty of these songs. Lovitt Records JS

Dead Red Sea Birds
Another release that sounds like a solo project, but features a full band to thicken the songs. Ryan Shelkett, ex-of Cross My Heart, is the driving force on Dead Red Sea's Birds, with a somber voice and some almost Neil Young-caliber guitar blues. High compliments are not spoken lightly, and Dead Red Sea nail all that is great with "Bad Man," a song as depressing as it is lovely. Although 11 tracks of any one group can drag on, the band has enough variance and talent to pull it off, yanking more charms out of the hat than expected, such as the instrumental mantra of the title track, nine songs in. Whether musical jams sans vocals, or poetry driven tales and tunes of woe, Dead Red Sea are interesting and endearing. Impressive. Deep Elm JS

Dead Things …Because Sometimes You Just Want to Ride Your Bike to the Show…
Dead Things are a neat band with a refreshing political conscience. Their refusal to give up on the concepts of punk rock and do-it-yourself, coupled with their mid-'90s style speedy hardcore -- at times bringing to mind my own hometown heroes Mblanket and Goatboy -- is like a shot of adrenaline on these 15 songs. Alternating male/female vocals give the tunes and their lyrics a well-rounded perspective. Like most speedy hardcore bands of this ilk, the songs are all a little samey but, for the all-ages hardcore memories alone, Dead Things are an awesome band well worth checking out. Slave Audio Documents JS 4.2003

Dearly Departed The Remains of Marianne Mayweather
Well, in a genius marketing ploy, the record label even describes this as "cliché" and, ultimately, so do I. The five songs on this "mini-CD" (or EP, if you prefer) all have that familiar sound perfected by Mineral or Sunny Day Real Estate almost a decade ago. It's safe to say the swelling, soft/loud emo sound has had its day and the time to move on has long since passed. For that reason foremost, but also because Long Island's Dearly Departed just don't, well, rock, I cannot recommend this EP. Ya, ya, good vocals and pleasant sounds but, come on, this is yawn inducing at best. One Day Savior JS

The Deathray Davies Without A Trace/They Stuck Me In A Box In The Ground Part 3 Vinyl Single
The Deathray Davies sound like an '80s new wave-like band who can't decide which era they're stuck in -- but that's a commendation, not damnation. Think of Weezer hooking up with the Byrds by way of The Cars, and you'd get the idea. The songs are generally bright, poppy, catchy, and upbeat, and very, very competently done. It won't set the world alight with innovation, but this single single-handedly beats the crap out of anything being played on commercial radio today. Highly recommended fun. Has Anyone Ever Told You? ZH 4.2003

Decembers January
This one is definitely a keeper. Not only does this emo-ish band have great vocals and a great drummer, but they sure know how to mix it up. With chorus like backup vocals and unexpected tempo changes within each song, this band is sure to keep you listening for more. Kudos for non-whining emo. To us: Boy Sets Fire meets Jazz Man's Needle. Also no big record label! Aisle 2 Records MH/AH

Def Poets Society
Whoa Nelly! This is a bit of an oddity. Full-on gangsta rap from the mean streets of North Vancouver, BC, Canada done by six whack MCs that are way, way too white to be taken seriously. They can rhyme and throw down lines pretty well, all things considered, but finding themselves an audience might be the hardest task at hand. Nearly all the suburban white kids I know are busy with the pimpin' shit they see on TV, and true hip-hop fans won't be convinced that these Poets are the real deal. As a white suburban punk nerds' tribute to rap and urban hip-hop, this is endearing, but as a lasting addition to the rap world, this hobbles along like a goofy kid with his Adidas shoes on the wrong feet. New Disorder Records JS

Del Ray Speak it Not Aloud
I tell you: The fact that more and more bands coming out deciding to let the lead singer diva thing go is making me very happy. Bands like Del Rey here make me proud to be a music fan and journalist. Just the idea of creating sounds without the notion of some Axel, someone to come across and grab the attention away from the actual music makes me grin. So, with that, I hafta tell you I thoroughly enjoyed this record. It's not mind-blowing or going to crate a stir in the heavens, but an album like this and a band such as Del Rey don't have to be. They just are and let us all hush up and take a listen. In eight tracks and just over a half hour, Speak it not Aloud chimes with general simplicity yet is backed by a two drum assault that makes the entire feel so much more dire and important -- as if each chord is backed by a marauding horde stalking you to listen up and get into the flow of the moment. Not that the actual rhythm section is that obtrusive, au contraire!, it is but a means to revive the lesser of the while with dual directions in which to choose from. Otherwise, the mild hypnotics and almost psychedelics could just be a stoner's dream when they are drifting off to sleep or watching the Teletubbies in the morning. Together, the pyre become brighter and wafts us all out to sea, in which the pillaging horde raises their goblets and cheers for the efforts of the musicians. Lead singers, initially, with music such as this, were introduced to get the audience to pay attention. When the audience began to form away, some member would step up and begin to rhyme or shout, just so they wouldn't leave. This notion caught on and so Barbara Streisand and Ozzy Osborne now have jobs. Otherwise, they'd be active fans of Del Rey-styled outfits. As well they should be! My Pal God Records MW 1.18.2002

DeNunzio Auditory Crash Course
I started my first band at 15. If you had no car and were not too inclined athletically, you started a band. Not knowing how to play anything other than "Camptown Ladies" on the piano and struggling to convince my piano teacher that I played "Fur d'Elise" at any other time besides my actual lessons, I picked up a bass, recruited my two best friends Nick and Brian and embarked on a stellar music career. The first thing we did was make stickers and posters for future shows. Learning how to play was completely secondary, promotion being far more important. Word spread fast. Soon another school band asked us to play a gig with them at the school auditorium. They were a metal band, we were ... well, shit, we had no idea, we didn't even know to tune our instruments together. We'd added a drummer, that's as far as we'd evolved. Tom was in the seventh grade, three years younger than the rest of us, and the only one who had any musical knowledge whatsoever. Prior to acquiring Tom, the three of us, would get together in my bedroom recording what we delicately titled "songs" (the session from New Year's Eve 1989 is pure delight). Tensions often were high, much like any artistic collaboration, not unlike Gauguin and that other jerk off Van Gogh. Nick, our guitar player, and Tom got along like two alley cats in a death brawl and me and Brian, our singer, were often forced to snack on Dorito's in Tom's kitchen until they could get over their musical differences. We never did play at the school, but we played a couple parties and recorded demos like we were the hottest band on the planet. In truth, we stunk, but that never stopped us from believing in the majesty of our band. Dreams of fame and fortune danced in our heads like the many discordant and ill-tuned notes of our songs. Then tragedy struck our ticket to fame and fortune. During summer break Brian went off to summer camp for two and a half months. The rest of us were devastated. This was unforgivable, we thought, how could he leave the band for such an extreme length of time during such a crucial creative period? It was time to break up, that much was clear. Every great group has its time. We called Brian at camp and told him that the end had arrived. Immediately, the remainder of us started another sucky band that went nowhere and broke up in a matter of weeks. And so on. This continued throughout adolescence, with different people coming in and out, and will continue forever and ever in thousand towns all over this great country. Some of these bands will even record and release albums that make into stores and stuff. And that's cool, I guess. Hej Music RG

Dewey Defeats Truman The Road to Nowhere Maps EP
Really cool, chill indie rock. Like The Get Up Kids minus the pop-oriented bullshit. Although its catchy stuff its not poppy -- think similar to good mid '90s alternative such as Radiohead, Hum, Smashing Pumpkins, and Spacehog. Mountains of melody, laid back chord progressions, and interesting overlap vocals. Good use of distortion, even though they somehow still manage to sound cleaner than most indie rock. Extra points awarded for thanking Jagermeister and Miller High Life. I wanna get faced with these cats, Dewey holla! They write about stuff that really matters like pencil fights. DDT should further develop their original sound and continue to refuse the generic indie sound. Rock is not dead. Has Anyone Ever Told You? CR

Diabolical Exploits
Having the highest regard for any album cover featuring a burning village, I was a bit excited to hear what this band had to offer. Placing the CD briskly into the player, I was initially pleased with the first track. Fast-paced and reminescent of old skate rock, I thought that I was in for a album-long treat. I was wrong. Track two shattered all my hopes of putting this band into my frequent listing section. Lyrically speaking, this band embarrasses songwriters everywhere. (Example: You can't kill me cause I'm dead/and if I'm dead/I'm not alive.) Bands even touching on the phrase "bust a cap" just seem to annoy me. From here on out the album seemed to stay at a mildly even, though pulsing pace musically, never reaching a pinnacle. They just grind out songs the way I do my morning commute to work. I do like the drummers straight forward rhythm, and fills, but there's nothing overly exciting about it. If things like this don't bother you, and you want to hear a punk band, pick it up. If they do, beer is cheap, and it's a bit more filling. Substandard Records JT

Die Tomorrow Escaping a Shipwrecked Life
Gee whiz, I was expecting more from a band with a member who goes by the name "Evil Adam Baby Eater Girl Beater." Surprise, surprise, Die Tomorrow play monotone jock punk with forced vocals, sloppy guitar work (horrid solos free of charge) and little to no song variation. A demo quality effort from beginning to end. Distant Rise Records JS

The Discarded I Won't Live a Lie
It was only a matter of time before the fundamentalist Christians got their grimy hands on the uncharted territory of gutter/anarchy punk. The Discarded is basically a Sex Pistols cover band with God lyrics. Repeat: Sex Pistols with God lyrics. In fact, these four scary individuals flip the anarchy lyrics of the Pistols into feel good ditties like, "Don't get me wrong, our government sucks, but we can't destroy it, we can fix it!" When coupling that with preachy garbage like, "Do you think you can earn your way to heaven? The Blood of Jesus Christ is the only way," and a fake Johnny Rotten accent, and this could very well win a Grammy for comedy album of the year. The Legion JS

Discount Singles #1
Discount were always somewhat of an anomaly. Pride of southern Florida, they were a pop-punk band amongst the ranks of spastic emo bands and brutal metal maniacs. Heck, they even did some recording at legendary death metal recording studio Morrisound with Steve Heritage (Assuck), now how pop-punk is that?! Singles #1 is a packed collection of their 7" and compilation tracks, a trick employed by many bands and labels eager to get analog releases to the holy shrine of compact disc. Rarely do the songs warrant it, but they do here, especially for Discount fans or those who get stoked by Bay Area pop-punk bands like J Church, Tilt, and Monsula. This 16-song disc is strong throughout, even if the song ideas have a tendency to repeat themselves more and more as the disc wears on. Hey, maybe Discount was a Bay Area transplant whose rusty van broke down in Florida? It's a theory. New American Dream JS

DMS Self-Titled
This is some good stuff. What a man can do in his spare time with a 4-track and a casio. Steve Lamos is a hard working guy. When he's not lending his drumming and trumpet skills to various outfits, he instructs the writer's workshop at the University of Illinois while at the same time conducting his own stuff which is a cross between a low budget sci-fi soundtrack and synthesized performance art for the Podunk monkey hour. There is a method to his radness though and it takes form in quasical jazz shaking hands with electro, spawning a lasting buddy-hood for merry makers abroad. Some of this stuff would be good to play when you throw that haunted house dance party. Others are swell to add life as you take that tour of the local nuclear facility. All in all, hip shoe store music in Munich never had it so good. You can almost see Snake Pliskin running through darkened streets on this disc. Do we dance or do we start drilling? But it's cool to take up welding just so you can wear those face masks. Arborvitae Records MW

Drowningman How They Light Cigarettes in Prison
Better than what Converge has given us recently and probably what Cave In would have released if they hadn't changed thier style. This band seems to have moved in to fill the void left by the more popular chaotic metal bands though not straying to far from their parents' style and formula. They certainly hold their own in musicianship and great vocals. We'll be looking forward to the next release. Revelation Records MH/AH

Drum and Bass The Collection DVD
My roommate's been renting all the Beatles films lately, and it got me wondering why bands don't put out musical films anymore. So while I was putting in the Drum and Bass: The Collection DVD, I hoped it might be an actual movie. A real drum and bass movie. What would that be like, I asked myself. So I came up with a quick plot and crossed my fingers. Here it is: Goldie, Photek, and Roni Size find a bag of ecstasy and are chased by a horde of angry ravers through the streets of Soho. Eventually, they befriend a lonely raver girl who promises to help them and leads them to her friends loft in Brooklyn where they all enjoy the ecstasy for the spectacular final dance number filled with wild visuals and serpentine percussion. Or hey, what about a Drum and Bass American Bandstand? That would be bad ass. Music Video Distributors RG

Dynamite Boy Somewhere in America
Musically, this is repetitive pop punk, identical to zillions of other bands out there jumping around and make wacky faces, tongues flapping from their pierced mouths. Too bad, the presentation of this album and the personal lyrics gave this a Lifetime or Gameface feel on first look, which would have been cool. Instead, Dynamite Boy storm through 13 songs of competent power punk in the Green Day vein. Solid, dynamic, fun, energetic, and, well ... hopelessly generic. Fearless Records JS

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