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E ... is for Emo

Review Archive:
Various Artists

Earthride Taming of the Demons
Stoner rock, doom metal with Sabbath riffs aplenty and the ugliest vocals this side of Lemmy and his warts. Like all bong hit, heavy groove rock, Earthride requires a certain, um, mood in order to fully enjoy their tuneage. Okay, you have to be totally ripped on pot laced with angel dust, but since this friendly reviewer isn't going back on that horse anytime soon, I'll just have to pretend I'm massively stoned. Wow! Killer tunes, dude! Southern Lord JS

Electric Frankenstein The Buzz of 1000 Volts
Years ago I came across these guys in a small club in San Francisco. I don't remember when or where exactly, but one thing I do remember, is not only liking the name, but also really digging the music. It was a few years back, as I say, and rock was taking a serious beating, especially here in SF, by the whole house music, lame alt-pop crap that was filling halls left and right, post dot com boom. Electric Frankenstein took the stage in full trash rock benevolence, with just a hint of Rob Zombie and a full case of cheap beer and Robert Williams artwork spectacular. In more ways than one, it was an important move on their part to come around and shake the foundation loose a bit and re-animate the withering scene that is loud guitars and rock 'n' roll bars.
So, when their new album came my way, The Buzz of 1000 Volts, I was pretty excited. I threw it on and turned it up and sat back prepared to be blown away. Well, I guess I hyped them up too much in my mind, because this album is just straight-ahead hip-shaking rock and didn't blow me away as I thought it would. It's fine, it does the job, and then after 13 tracks, it went off and I hadn't left my chair to boogie or tear up the place. I let it sit for a day then I threw it on again. It was that initial separation from over-expectancy to knowing you won't like it that got me to fully appreciate the album. Electric Frankenstein is a charged trip wire of the dingy vault that is gutter rock -- the style which many tattoos and leather boots have inspired to go along with the motorcycle ride through the grimy city at night. I actually played it a third time before settling in and writing this report. I just wanted to be honest with you, coming from a heavy rock fan's perspective. Steve Miller and his spook crew do you good and will leave many a broken tooth and bottle behind in their wake. Victory Records MW

Elliott False Cathedrals
Radiohead's minimalist strip-down of recent years has brought formerly loud hardcore bands like Elliott down to earth. A quieter approach only makes electric wall of sound segments more interesting, and clarity is no longer the unattainable dream. Sure, there's more Sunny Day Real Estate and Radiohead in these songs at times than there is Elliott, but it's so well done and presses all of the right emotive buttons that any obvious influences are forgiven. Not quite an original masterpiece, False Cathedrals might be the signal that something completely special is about to happen. Revelation Records JS

Elliot If They Do
If you're a fan of past Elliot recordings -- the sweet vocals and upbeat emo style -- you certainly won't be disappointed with this release. It sounds as if they spent some quality time in the studio. There are more tempo changes and varied guitar riffs than I remember from past releases. Also re-releases of my all-time-favorite Elliot songs "The Watermark High" and "Halfway Pretty." What excuse do you have for not owning this? Initial Records MH/AH

End on End Why Evolve When We Can Go Sideways?
It's always nice to know that there are hardcore bands out there that still care. End on End is one of them. At a point in the mid-'90s, it was trendy to be political and wear your heart on your sleeve. These days it's only cool to not care, grease your hair, and wear your cock on the outside of your pants (or so I hear). Quite frankly, I've stopped paying attention to hardcore because of how cheesy it has gotten in the past few years. Bands like End on End remind me (actually, slap me in the face) that hardcore is still an exciting, exhilarating genre of music that can make the blood and fists pump, if you just let it. End on End have chops, talent, and spunk. They can play the hell out of their instruments and never let themselves become too repetitive or grating. Even the vocals don't slip into that wounded chipmunk zone so many bands of this ilk are guilty of entering. If a song like "All Hail the New Esperanto" doesn't get you moving, nothing will. Substandard Records JS

Straight punk rock -- raw and classic. Like most punk, the vocalists hold this together. Nothing too original, but fun and easy to listen to. Lots of variety, certainly a bonus. New Disorder Records MH/AH

Escher Demo
Ten minutes and four songs of demo tape quality chugga chugga metalcore. A really, really good drummer cannot save a band who have employed Oscar the Grouch as their lead singer. This fucker is horribly out of tune, can't sing (or even scream) to save his life, and thus drives a spike into the coffin of an already dead Escher. Oozing stop/start chops with metal riffs anyone who's owned a Slayer record could play in their sleep, this sunny CA band need to hang out at the beach more and enjoy the sea air. Maybe spend more quality time with the buried in concrete, but quasi-angelic, background singer; he's got the right idea. Some divine inspiration is imperative at this particular junction. JS

Ester Drang Golden West
The plane lands in slow motion. Empty seats in a donut shop. The lake just before it freezes over. All of these things and so much more envelop you when Ester Drang takes over. There is a definate space quality here you should all look up, but the jingle-jangle lets us all know there is a luau somewhere deep within Oaklahoma. When the pills and brandy wash over you, and you're able to see the ocean for the first time, this band will be drifting in and out of you, kissing your ears and making you upper-cut the cabana boy for no real good reason at all. It's good to be alive, it's good to have friends like this, and it's good to drive fast through the Brittish countryside. A pal said this reminded him of My Bloody Valentine. He could be right. I said it reminded me of my old Snoopy sno-cone maker and tasting the strawberry lip gloss from Lisa Shneider. I think we're both right. Burnt Toast Vinyl MW

Eulcid The Wind Blew All the Fires Out
First of all, the band and label really want you to know, the band name is pronounced Yule-cid. Geez, we wouldn't want anyone going around saying the name wrong now, would we? Reminds me of how I used to get teased as a kid in high school for saying Metal-icka … instead of the heshers' choice pronunciation, Metallica. Ah, but I digress. Eulcid derive obvious inspiration from Fugazi and their DC ilk, but touring with bands like Cave In has also rubbed off on their sound, especially in the very hard to match high-pitched guitar ambience. The result is a confusing, often disjointed, listen with awkward, tuneless vocals. Songs are choppy and chaotic; often creating a restlessness that can only be cured by tightly closed eyes and deep concentration. Eulcid's debut album is one to absorb over a long period of time, with the utmost of patience and a mind wide open. Best of luck with that. Second Nature Recordings JS

Everest The Road Less Traveled
In certain factions of the world, punk rock just does not exist anymore. It's strange to have bands come around and claim punk roots when all they are is some pop knock off that makes it onto the next American Pie soundtrack for some strange reason. But, in reality, Everest is not that bad. Really. They could be a lot worse and try the whole Creed route of success, but instead they let us all know that the Descendents (used to) rule and we are all invited to climb aboard their happy train to basic rock glory. Really nothing too challenging here, but why would you want it to be? Would you call Jim's pool party fandango challenging? No. Well ... if the beers run out then yeah. But otherwise it's pretty easy sailing. Everest does justice to quick rock for the teen set and will not tarry from their path yo. I can see it all now: some 17 year old girl swooning over the lead singer of Everest because he sings so good and looks cute and is like all sensitive and stuff. I'm 32 and think he sounds like he has a cold. But what do I know? The other day I threw on ELO and bobbed my head announcing that they used to be "the shit". See kids ... just say no! Join The Team Player Records MW 4.15.2003

Everybody Uh Oh Man am I Brad
Uh oh is right. Sorry, but Man am I Brad just kinda sits in front of me like a loaf of stale bread. This Illinois indie pop/rock band might appeal to fans of Dinosaur Jr. or Yo La Tengo (do such people still exist?), but it severely underwhelms me with its clean delivery and subdued production sound. This album could be a mild sedative for a sleepless night, maybe, but a kick-ass rock album? Everybody Uh Oh gets a big uh uh. Arborvitae Records JS 4.15.2003

Explosions in the Sky Those Who Tell the Truth
Put this CD in you car CD player and take a nice autumn drive in the country. It paints a dreamy landscape of relaxing fresh air and trees ... lots of trees. I want to pack up my fishing rod and take a drive to my favorite place. Cruising along the twists and turns of a windy road as you gain speed for a inevitable crash. Explosions lulls you into a comfort zone then smacks you in the back of the head. Driving guitar harmonies and a great bass player mixed in just right. Great dynamics, song writing, and feeling are what makes this so good. A mix of The Cure with Sonic Youth. "Total silence to Total violence." Temporary Residence Records AH

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JS - Jason Schreurs

MW - Mark Whittaker

KG - Kenny George

ZH - Zachary Houle

MH - Melissa Hostetler

RG - Ryan Gowland

CS - Cameron Smith

CR - Chuck Reith

CO - Cory O'Malley

BD - Bruce Duncanson

JR - Jessica Richman

GW - Greg Wilson

DG - Daniel Garret

JT - Jessie Turner

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