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W ... is for Word

Review Archive:
Various Artists

Wack Trucks Shake This
This is so bad it hardly warrants a review. Goofy, tuneless one-chord punk rock with four members who seemingly share a single, damaged brain. Best to crawl back under that rock boys, this has to be one of the worst things released this year. And that's not even taking into account the lyrics to "Bitches iz Wack." JS

Wafflehouse* Olympia
This record is refreshingly reminiscent of a time when what is now called "emo" was referred to as "emo-core". Aggressive and uninhibited, Olympia careens from whisper to scream, blistering thrash to spare ballad, all within the span of a single song, and this is just to mention the most obvious tone and tempo variety on this album. Wafflehouse*'s greater strength is the band's ability to deftly fuse a number of styles into a disjointed, albeit thoroughly engaging, mix that gels to spite the agitated relationship between its parts. Combining a mid-tempo hardcore pace, tongue-in-cheek digressions (a la Green Day) into speed metal phrasing and soloing, a spontaneous, math-rock-ish grab-bag of mid-riff changes, and a by-now comforting hurt/aggravated vocal tone, Wafflehouse* has the makings of something essential. Olympia is Wafflehouse*'s first long player, the band sounds a little caught up in it's influences (caP'n Jazz particularly), but, depending on your tastes, that's not really much to complain about. This is overall a pretty thrilling and rewarding listen, as the band is moving toward a song structure in which verses and choruses are mute points along uncharted routes of swerving sonic narrative. Of note is the vocal interplay (all five members contribute vocals), which focuses more on counter melody than on harmonization, giving an even greater depth to the already dense two-guitar, bass, drums, and "keys" onslaught. Forge Again Records CO

Andrew Wagner Thank You, But Our Princess Is In Another Castle
Look ye! A fair maiden has perchanced upon my bodice, which is thus heaving with earthly delight at her coquettish silhouette. My +2 long sword of Chick Scamming should nary thrust forth and pierce her heart and undies, succumbing her into a faint and then I may get my chance to lay 'em down and smack 'em yack 'em! But this is only in response to the title of the album, which in no way describes what is going on here. Andrew Wagner takes his little geetar and chug a lugs with decent aplomb letting us know he enjoys both folk music and ether. His styling is a bit like an acid tinged J Mascis or Brian Kenny Fresno gone Sparklehorse with a heaving nod to Neil Young. It's not bad and it's not gonna stop traffic. The continued essence of men with acoustic guitars and a 4-track recorder is in full swing here and we should all pay homage to the trend that will never end. For lo!, the knavish minstrel doth continue his parry with the lute and string, singing a dandy melody to the princess in captivity, to her beauty, to her redolence, to her fine ass booty which makes the tunesmith cry "boo yaa!" All in all, I enjoyed Andrew Wagner and what he's doing. But my life will remain complete if it happens to somehow leave my apartment. 10 sided dice is optional. Losing Blue Print Records MW

Ward Churchill Doing Time: The Politics of Imprisonment
From the introduction of this spoken word disc, Ward Churchill's voice demands attention. Churchill, whose credentials equal anyone when it comes to knowledge of the FBI and its use of counter intelligence programs in the US, has the kind of gruff, no bullshit voice that automatically engages the brain into listen mode. Churchill is co-director of the American Indian Movement of Colorado, Vice-President of the American Anti-Defamation Council, and a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Boulder. On Doing Time: The Politics of Imprisonment, he details how the FBI's programs undermine radical dissent and how the justice system has been used as an agent of social control. His observations and knowledge are impressive, to say the least, and they make for a fascinating listen. This particular speech was recorded in September of 2000 at the Doing Time conference held at the University of Winnipeg, home of the awesome record label collective who put this disc out. The G7 Welcoming Committee JS

Warsawpack Gross Domestic Product
Not since The Consolidated dropped "Unity of Oppression" has the anti-establishment had a rallying cry like Warsawpack. Hamilton's seven-piece jazz/funk/hip-hop/alternative collective go after corporations, the automobile, and TV-culture (among other things) on Gross Domestic Product. The band pull no punches lyrically and stay in your face for 55 minutes, a trait that begins to wear on the nerves a little in the second half of this album due to information overload. Luckily, the players (horns, guitar, drums, and bass) always keep the pace interesting, busting out songs that range from hard-hitting hip-hop to mellower, funked-out jams. Vocalist Lee Raback's odd voice and raucous rhymes drive the bulk of these songs; he has the kind of serious snarl and soul lacking in most hip-hop emcees. Warsawpack combine danceable songs with a more than commendable agenda. Need added incentive? "Attention to Deficit" is officially the new "Television: The Drug of the Nation." The G7 Welcoming Committee JS 7.2003

Waxwing Nobody Can Take What Everybody Owns
Every couple of years a record comes along that just consumes you; it takes up every spare moment of your life. For me, it's been Waxwing's Nobody Can Take What Everybody Owns, by far the best collection of songs ever put together by this Seattle emo-rock band. Each of the ten songs here are amazing, fully-realized masterpieces, but none stand above the others or regulate each other to b-side or throwaway track status. Sure, highlights are all over the place, like the rallying cry of "Colour" and the bittersweet ode to punk, "Records" (the best since Jawbreaker's "Boxcar"), but it's the effect this record has a whole that needs to be experienced to be believed. Singer/guitarist Rocky Votolato has a very distinct voice that takes awhile to warm up to; finally I've come to realize that it's his honesty and nonchalant attitude to singing that endears the hell out of me. His voice perfectly echoes the band's determination to loosen up and rock out. For those who hold Jawbreaker's "24 Hour Revenge Therapy" or Sunny Day Real Estate's "Diary" in a fond place in their hearts, the latest from Waxwing will change your life and keep you listening for a long, long time. Yes, it's that good. Second Nature Recordings JS 4.15.2003

Whippersnapper America's Favorite Pastime
Sometimes those neo-jocks you see at those Unwritten Law and Pennywise concerts can start a pretty decent punk band. With chugging power chord guitars, quick drumming, and general subjects supplied by basic lyrics. Whippersnapper cranks up the cool senior attitude and picks things up at your local skate park. There is really not much to say here; these guys are alright. They get the job done, they get you bouncing and then they get out. No real surprises -- just standard SoCal punk with good hooks and good times. It is also rather apparent that each of the members will have no problem getting laid after the show. They have that cute-white-guy-skater-punk look down pat and are a match to the 12 light and snappy ditties that don't offend or challenge anyone. It is easy to fall into music and people like this -- and just as easy to forget when the band splits up and groupies turn to wives. It was a sunny day when America's Favorite Pastime blasted its way through my house, and that's how it should be listened to. It may brighten up a gloomy Monday, but on a whole, Whippersnapper should be played outside, in the sun, with your friends, skateboarding, or doing slip n slides on your neighbors yard. I tried drinking a beer to the album, but I just got annoyed. You need a sticky cold soda of your choice instead. I then threw on the aging BMX biker movie "Rad" on and played the CD over it. That kinda worked. But then I felt like drinking more beer. So, I turned it off. Lobster Records MW

The White Octave Menergy
Here's a disc of really solid indie rock. I would place it somewhat similar to Hoover, Lincoln, or even Season to Risk. At times, they aren't that dissimilar from At The Drive In. I knew nothing about this going in, but I was afraid that it was going to be some watery Built to Spill sort of record. After two tracks, I knew that it was a keeper. This is better than most of the current indie rock scene. Initial records
(but it sounds like it is on Dischord! Haha!) MM

Windfall Loud With the Windows Open So the Neighbors Can Hear
All right, so first off, what's with that name? Windfall? Is that the art cred you're trying to capture or does it mean something intregal to the band that we as the paying audience have no idea what it could mean (well, could is a bit deep ...) other than the fact that it makes no representation of the sound the band emanates. And the title of the album. Whoa ... long or something? Now, I'm not trying to come down hard on this band, nope not at all; in fact, what I'd like to do is kind of propose some latent observational insight as to what is indeed going on here. First off, item A as you may want to call it, is the fact that the band itself, Windfall, call themselves "hardcore" throughout their press kit. Well, in my experience as a music journalist, and coming across many "hardcore" bands (re: Cannibal Corpse anyone?) I have yet to see the truth behind that claim. Sure it's not exactly operatic church stylings for the drone humming public, in fact it does rock the roll on occasion, but the term "hardcore" gets tossed around as much as the fading tag "extreme" does. Perhaps an up and coming band from Kansas who know no better than what the local "alternative" station plays (like a new Metallica tune now and then) so hardcore gets inbred and they think just distortion and playing sorta fast puts them on the punk or thrash level. Is Windfall trying to get to this stage, or are they just a decent rock band that's trying to maintain some form of gritty credo to win the blackened hearts of misfit rockers across the globe? Yeah, like they want a bunch of freakish banshees from the caverns of musical extremity to show up at their gig and bash the living crap outta the place and band as well. I mean, they are from the NY/NJ location, which does in itself inject a few of the meaner bands and sounds to come across our ears, but Windfall is somewhere in the middle between acceptance and whatever-happened-to-them? I liked it, but they need to get the record straight so as folks like me can get the message out correctly and feel the vibe they're trying to convey. Windfall ... gosh, how majestic. Too bad though. Smorgasbord Records MW

Denison Witmer Of Joy and Sorrow
In a sea full of singer-songwriters there are very few who ever float to the top. In fact, most are stuck to the bottom with little or no support, under-produced albums, and no interest from any major labels. But I suppose sometimes those things are a catalyst for great albums. The follow up to The '80s EP and Denison Witmer's second full-length album, Of Joy and Sorrow, is a wondrous folk/pop creation of simple acoustic guitars and gentle vocals. The album takes the listener on a journey through the heart and mind of Witmer leaving no stone unturned and no emotion unexplored. With writing comparisons to Elliot Smith and harmonies that reminisce of Crosby Stills and Nash, such as on the track "Reaching," Burnt Toast Vinyl has found a keeper. Not only is the fourth track, "Simple Life," a beautiful melody, but it pretty much sums the album up and the feeling it leaves with you. So go buy this album, kick back, and enjoy. Burnt Toast Vinyl NH

Woe Last Stop
The music group Woe's Last Stop, an album of instrumental music, is not easy to categorize, as it mixes sounds associated with both rock and jazz. It reminds me of experimental music, the kind one might hear in downtown Manhattan performance spaces or nightclubs, but this is not to say the music is "new," despite its strangeness, just as surrealism is still strange but not new. The group begins its album of mostly short songs with "Last Stop," a brief blast of instrumental noise before going into "Reason Gets Paid Back," with an attractive but repetitive rhythm, heavy then light. The sax is slightly melodious, the trumpet not, it's just whining bursts. "Minutes to Go" sounds like the soundtrack to a car crash. "Incidents At" has a heavy, repeating drum beat with what sounds like a high-pitched trumpet and guitar feedback. "Ceiling Sniffing" begins slowly, softly, with well-composed sound textures, and reminds me of Lester Bowie and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. "The Shake" seems to aspire to beauty, is quiet, with one instrument seeming to echo another. One tries to imagine an image, a scene, a story; why? Is the lack of words and vocals a call to create something translatable into language, into predictable meaning? Yet, I like "Ceiling Sniffing" and "The Shake." There is an abstract quality in much of the album's music, and it doesn't seem to offer much in the way of revelations or climaxes. Some of it may be mood music but the mood is hard to discern. The last song, "This Sound Will Break Your Heart," has an ambitious, engaging title, and one imagines something momentous is about to happen as it starts, but nothing momentous happens. Some Records DG

The Workin' Stiffs Dog Tired ... And Then Some
I may be accused of blasphemy, but what the heck, I'll just say it: The Sex Pistols are alive and well and living in the skins of The Workin' Stiffs. Their newest album, Dog Tired ... And Then Some, is a cheery bugger-off to anyone who thinks old-school punk is dead. Every track is surprisingly catchy, with the sort of snarling Johnny Rotten vocals that seem downright cherubic in an age of Disturbed and Korn. Sure, all the songs sound the same, but no more so than you'd expect from a band trying to recapture the feel of a musical sub-genre so localized in place and time. Think of it as concept punk -- a bunch of Bay Area kids recreating a seminal era that they weren't around to catch the first time. Or maybe somebody just forgot to tell these guys the '70s punk scene happened long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. I, for one, hope they never find out. TKO Records GW

Wow & Flutter Names
The new faction of instrumental indie rock heads both amuse and peak interest. At one point, bands like Wow & Flutter come across as chimed musicians who take an idea and fold it till it comes out a weave of styles and ideals and makes a whole out of almost not much. The tunes themselves here on Names blend guitars with cello (not unusual these days) and slow methodical rhythms to cleanse the ear from standards and expectancies. I almost gathered a hint of gothic under/overtones with the guitar work and the cello adds flair of classics mixed with fanned heat of those who seek out the ordinary guitar/bass/drums bit we so are used to. The moods here will delight fans of Low and I even caught a glimpse of some Pink Floyd-esque swoons to which will heave the chest of many a space rock/bong blaster follower. All in all, the band has been around for almost a decade and hopefully will keep it up. If not, how will we properly serenade that wilting rose? Jealous Butcher Records MW

xbxrx Love Songs for the Blind
Noisy, raw, crazy, fun. Techno meets punk rock. Monster Mash comes to mind. The lyrics really make me smile, especially on the sixth track "Chow-mein Alpha" where the vocalists are monkeys (well kinda). Favorite part is the intro to "Five Knuckle Shuffle" as a cover of the theme song to the video game Spy Hunter. Great for slumber parties and dancing around on a rainy day. Buy this. Anal Log Recordings MH/AH

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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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