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P ... is for Punk

Review Archive:
Various Artists

Park No Signal
Lobster Records tour idea: Match up Park and Mock Orange. This album sounds like Mock Orange and older The Get Up Kids material. So blatantly Get Up Kids from vocals to cheesy basslines it makes me sick. Your typical midwest indie/emo. Good vocals and harmonies but they lack their own unique sound, style or attitude. Park has good song writing but the album just lacks any original appeal that would put them forward of thousands of others. Lobster Records AH

Pele Enemies
This is pretty post-rock, if that's of any relevance any more. Now that we have that out of the way, Pele makes idiosyncratic, engaging indie rock with heavy nods toward fusion and progressive rock noodling. Enemies is jazzy in its complexity, informed by post-punk in its atonality and penchant for abrupt chord changes, and a little avant-garde in its digressions of tape manipulation. There are no vocals, but I think that Don Caballero (who Pele bear only a slight resemblance to; perhaps a midway point between that band and Tortoise) finally proved to us that rock music doesn't necessarily need vocals to have an impact. Post-rock, or whatever, this is slightly awkward, angular fusion music that neither employs nor needs vocals and hold your attention less through hooks than through twisting, bucking soundscapes on top of driving rhythms. You'll be amazed at how deep this record sounds while it's really not much more than a bass player, a drummer and a guitarist playing live in the studio with a few sound effects thrown into the mix for good measure. Even if you are rock purist, you had ought to at least make a little space for this stuff, because Pele packs more emotional content (i.e. elation, bemusement, uncertainty) into its music than a lot of bands you'll hear hollering about it. Polyvinyl Records CO

Pele Realize It
To me, Pele was this fabulous soccer player. In like the '70s and '80s, this guy dominated the field with his skill and dexterity. To wit, his charisma gained him international fame. Much like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or Fran Tarkinton but only the few select got an actual video game molded after them. Well, at least named after them. I think Tiger and Mike have a video game or two with their image on it, but Fran ... yeah, I don't know. Actually, I still have the "Pele's Soccer" for the Atari 2600; this maddening venture of squares upon squares that hit a square into this square field goal thing. Real bad for the thumbs because you are constantly jamming that fiery red button to run run RUN with the ball intact in front of you. Ugh, no wonder I drink so much Hamms just to make it through one round with this guy Vernon, some couch surfer who promises that, someday!, he'll move out and leave my friggin refrigerator alone. Anyway, Pele the modern band is quite different from the Pele athlete. I don't see the fast moving soccer hero really parrying up to the light instrumentals that convey the mysteries of our surroundings that are represented here on this disc. Two songs, that's all we get, but seeing as the first track is 11 minutes and the second just over 18, I think we can forgive them for the lack of "proliferation." Rather, I got the impression that Pele is more like a soundtrack to some lonely desert sojourn, as we hop skip and jump all the way to the next mirage. The thoughtlessness of modern and past lives is cut by the fickle wares of patterned beauty; suckling menders and full troughs of goat herd bearings. No more scrapes and boundaries, no more props and being taught words, this is the real deal and overall, the future looks dim and prosperous. There is no turning back ... only hope and severance. I'll see you there. Just bring the paddles man. 'Cause "Kaboom!" is an even greater challenge. Crouton Records MW 1.18.2002

Piedmont Charisma Self-Titled
I hate music like this. Annoying, sappy, geeky songs that mosquito into your head and never stop that incessant, high-pitched buzzing. It starts with the horn-rimmed glasses with no lenses in the band photos, leading into foolish sounding vocals from prepubescent boys (or reasonable facsimile) and keyboards that just don't let up. I guess I could try comparing this to other new-wavey bands, but then I'd have to rustle up more names that would only bother my head further. Slave Magazine JS

Pinhead Circus Pinhead Circus EP
Can you imagine a circus of Pinheads? You would probably never laugh
more in your life. The ringmaster's regalia would consist of long johns coupled with a boot for headgear and would speak through a handful of warm oatmeal. Instead of a lion, the tamer would combat a bowl of chicken and barley soup. The high wire act would be two drunken bums battling for dominance and would only result in pratfalls. Oh, and rings of fire? Hey, everyone's on fire! I personally would be pissing my pants. Literally! I'd be drinking pudding and eating honeyed rocks and sitting in my own feces! Oh man, that would be amazing, because circuses these days are just dumb elephants and shit. Not Bad Records RG 1.2002

Pinq Quiet Games for the Hot Weather
Pinq's newest CD, Quiet Games for Hot Weather, is like a short journey into the noise pop revolution. Don't worry if you don't have a passport though, they provide a guide. The virtual reality setting is somber and your tour guide, the hypnotic Tim Mitchell, sings you through the landscape. This CD creates such a somber and almost meditative mood, it should come with a warning label: Do not operate heavy machinery. You don't remember exactly when it started, but you can't escape their funk once you are inside Pinq's world. The combination of keys, guitars, bass, drums, and "electronic stuff" transports you into a world of cooler. Pinq makes you feel like you spent a long night partying at a very posh bar; and, after you get home, this CD should warm you up faster than a hookah -- unfortunately the music does not taste as good. The introspective lyrics can be quite intense at times, but that is why the instruments play slow, powerful, and dream-like music. This emo-power-pop-rock doesn't highlight one song over any of the others. They all meld well into and out of each other. Another impressing factoid is that this is their first full-length CD, on their own label. If that's not fun then I don't know what is. JR

Pirx the Pilot Hit Single 7"
It would be tempting to dismiss Pirx the Pilot's new self-titled EP as unremarkable bargain-bin fodder. After all, the basic traits of generic garage alternative are there: the generally angst-y subject matter; the downright stubborn avoidance of any melody that might be considered "commercial"; and the homogenous feel of every song, eventually resulting in a sort of boredom for the ear. (A pretty amazing accomplishment for a CD that clocks in at just over 11 minutes.) The problem is, parts of it are really good -- good enough to make you wish the whole thing were better. The lyrics are sharp ("You keep me dancing on my grave/There'll always be pieces I want to save"), and the band gives off a definite Pixies vibe -- thanks in large part to Erica's hazily Deal-ish backing vocals. The one song on which she sings lead, "Potato Cannon Ricochet," has the skewed energy of early Throwing Muses. Unfortunately, there's not a "Debaser" or "Dragonhead" to be found here ... just the first few steps of what is bound to be an interesting journey. Here's hoping they send a postcard when they get there. GW

Pitch Black Self-Titled
While guitarist/vocalist Kevin Cross' last band, The Nerve Agents, were somewhat of a letdown, Pitch Black are a pleasant surprise. These Bay Area bashers manage to make the horror rock/Misfits motif work, something only AFI has recently been able to do (without looking like total fools). Even the current incarnation of the Misfits weren't able to make the spooky punk thing work post-2000. What makes Pitch Black successful is the ability to sound creepy and not take themselves too seriously at the same time. Lyrics revolve around digging graves, Halloween, and dark love stories, but also have enough depth to be relevant in the real world. And while their sound is heavily influenced by early Misfits and their hometown AFI buddies, Pitch Black are not squeamish about deviating from their formula to bust out power ballads (see: "Resting Place") or straight up speedcore like "Destructive Criticism." Grab the claw hammer and rip a few nails out of that coffin, Pitch Black need help exhuming the horror punk corpse. Revelation Records JS

Planes Mistaken for Stars Knife in the Marathon
Aggressive and harmonious with dual vocals and a distinct late Unbroken style. PMS (I wonder if that was intentional) gives their listeners straight forward lyrics, a plethora of tempo changes, and good musicianship. We love the Unbroken cover. Deep Elm Records MH/AH

Point Of No Return Self-Titled 7"
It's seven more inches of Xvegan moshX from Catalyst records! This time, the band is Point of No Return, hailing from Sao Paolo, Brazil. They chug through the record sounding like your standard straight-edge mosh band, but the lyrics seem to deviate somewhat from the norm. Instead of talking about "purification" and being drug free, they sing about Brazil being under the thumb of the US, child labor, TV advertisements, and prisons. They're on the whole a bit more interesting and less alienating than the stuff mosh-metal bands usually write about. Even if it's musically uninteresting, it's still good to see labels like Catalyst trying to make bands from foreign countries accessible to people who normally wouldn't be exposed to them. Catalyst Records BD

The Priests
Totally unprepared, the no-fi sound of the Priests had the head-bobbing and the crotch-throbbing, if you can excuse the imagery. Goddamn, I haven't heard raw garage rock like this album's opener/intro "The Tingler" since the heyday of the Oblivians or early, early Jon Spencer. Too bad, this thing fizzles, like, real fast and gets downright creepy a few songs in. Like a dirty, old pervert in a trench coat, peeking in your window late at night, the Priests make the skin crawl of anyone within earshot. Too bad, I thought they were onto something for a moment. Garage Pop Records JS

The Promise My True Love
Holy shit! That's what I said when I saw the gnarly packaging for this thing, skulls galore! Holy fuck! That's what I said when we rocked this in that scumbag Geis's Dodge Neon. He has the am/fm cassette player and the car kit walkman CD player just like me, high rollers folks, I tell you. Dude can you believe that Microsoft Word wants me to capitalize walkman? I wonder how much sony paid them to do that? And now sony comes up as a spelling error because I didn't capitalize it, yet the word sony when capitalized appears in its dictionary, it's a crazy world we live in. Anyway this CD is so fucking rad. It is a two-song breath of fresh air into the incredibly stale hardcore world. Super-fast guitars, brutal blast beats, and angry vocals bring me back to when hardcore was interesting. This is a must for fans of Slayer, old Earth Crisis, '80s heavy metal, (not the hair kind, the I-want-to-kill-you-and-myself-at-the-same-time kind) Unbroken, Harvest, Sabbath, or anyone who likes just gnarly music. By the lyrics I inferred that the Promise is indeed straight edge and I have heard there are former members of One King Down, and Another Victim, but The Promise is something completely different than these bands. The vocals are harsh screams that don't sound generic like so many other shitty cookie-cutter acts today, there's classy solo riffs and an intense rhythm section which provides a wall of sound ala Black Sabbath or the Misfits. Can't wait for the full length! Deathwish Inc. CR

Propagandhi Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes
Propagandhi have really outdone themselves this time. With the addition of distorto-bassist Todd, who used to play in another great Winnipeg band called I Spy, the band has amped their sound and intensity. Chris, who used to be the band's screamier vocalist, now takes on the melodic vocal compliment to Todd's gravel-pit pipes. A raunchy ode to the thrash metal they grew up on, but still maintaining the pop sensibilities that make their songs so fucking skull ingrained after two listens, Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes has Propagandhi at the absolute pinnacle of their careers. While previous albums dipped and soared, their third never lets up. Highlights among an album of highlights are the angry frolick of "Back to the Motor Leagues," the quintessential anthem "Natural Disasters" (in just over two minutes), and the progressive thrash (complete with blazing guitar solo) of "Purina Hall of Fame." Really, every song here is a winner, and no two of the 14 songs sound the same, showcasing a band that have the talent and creativity to single-handedly redefine the whole melodic hardcore genre. In 20 years, when every tenth generation Epitaph/Fat band is forgotten, Propagandhi will be the reference point for a style of music that did have redeeming value, if only played by people with the right motives and intelligence to pull it off. But, the music is just the beginning. As always, a Propagandhi lyric sheet and booklet is a life-changing learning tool, with the kind of personal touch and honest approach that makes you compelled to listen, think and act. One step further on this record is an enhanced CD-ROM track for your computer including video shorts about the band, and social commentary by authors Ward Churchill and William Blum. This is the best and most honorable use of an enhanced CD to date. Truly more than music, Propagandhi's latest CD has it all. G7 Welcoming Committee JS

Psuedo Heroes Betraying Angry Thoughts
The cheap cover art of this release betrays what is a solid album by Down By Law guitarist Sam Williams, joined by Kevin Coss on bass and Williams' childhood buddy Carlos Collins-Valez on drums. They must've owed a favor to a friend or something. Though it doesn't seem to cover any new territory, Betraying Angry Thoughts sounds really refreshing. It pleasantly transports you back to a time when you hadn't listened to a thousand punk LPs, and bands like the Descendants were totally new to you. Milo Goes to College? That's sounds interesting, you said to yourself, What? The lead singer's going to study chemistry at UCSD? What is this strange new world called punk rock? Good times. For me, that was also a time where I wasn't getting laid. Thank God that's over. Theologian Records RG

Purification Vessel Of Wrath
With this release, Indiana's Catalyst Records brings us another platter of tiresome vegan mosh metal. Purification, who hail from Italy, play music in the standard moshing fare in the vein of bands like Earth Crisis with metallic guitars, plodding drums, and a bass that chugs along with lots of open-E action. The vocals are barked above the din in the way that just about every other mosh band does them. Accompanying the record are the lyrics and writings on consumerism and the effects it has on the environment, animals, and people. While I can for the most part agree with the environmental views, it's extremely hard to take bands like this seriously when they have lines like, "From this era of decadence the righteous ones will rise with burning eyes to set the world ablaze" and constantly refer to some sort of mythical "purification." It's ridiculous, unintentionally cheesy lyrics and writings such these that ultimately serve to make vegan, straightedge bands extremely inaccessible to the people they are trying to reach (read: "those outside their movement"). This record will probably appeal to anyone who likes the traditional vegan, straightedge mosh -- I'm almost positive that this crowd won't be disappointed. Catalyst Records BD

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Also in Song ...
Song Archive

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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