003_01.htmlTEXTR*ch!ظ)mBIN ROCKIST 003: reviews
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Reviews These are the reviews that made it into Rockist 003:
Alkaline Trio
From Here to Infirmary (Vagrant Records)
Maybe I'll Catch Fire (Asian Man Records)


"Never ran away for the sake of scars
tried not to move but she was armed
and shots were fired
now there's a hole in the head
of this wounded liar

Never met a drink I didn't like
got a taste of you
threw up all night"


Dissatisfied with the latest batch of poppy punk bands being jammed down your throat? Still crying over what your significant other did you? Don't get sad, get even, young backpack rocker. This may be the cheapest deal around: ten bucks for a wonderful example of "maybe I don't have it so bad because I'm not as fucked up as these guys" therapy. What a bunch of bitter bastards! And I love it. Thankfully, while the sarcasm is heavy, the riffs are not. I love the punchiness of their songs and the beautifully jaded lyrics, clearly written by men who have had their hearts flattened once or twice.
Vagrant Records 2118 Wilshire Blvd. #361 Santa Monica, CA 90403
www.vagrant.net
Asian Man Records PO Box 35585 Monte Sereno, CA 95030
brucelee@pacbell.net
www.asianmanrecords.com

Ashtray Babyhead :Radio
In the mid-90s a bunch of bands hit with some fun songs that took the melodies found in the power pop bands of the1980s and added a bit more guitar fuzz. Most of those bands (Weezer, Nada Surf) are back now after laying low for a couple years (credit Superdrag with keeping on keeping on). Quite simply, if you like your rock and roll with a healthy dose of sweetness a la the bands listed above, you will like this Little Rock band. In fact, they've even written a tribute to those pop bands and a wonderfully catchy indictment of commercial radio in "Popstar Radio Crown." I can't wait to hear these guys progress.
(PO Box 2501013 Little Rock, AR 72205
ashtraybabyhead@popmail.com
www.ashtraybabyhead.net;
Glue Factory Records PO Box 404-AB Redondo Beach, AR 90277 www.gluefactory.com)

At the Drive In : Relationship of Command
In/Casino/Out was the first thing I'd ever heard from ATDI. Their manager sent it to me because I had offered to set up a show for Knapsack and the boys on their tour in October (1998). I was a little skeptical ...did they get their band's name from the Poison song? (The story goes that they originally wanted to call the band At the Movies, after a Bad Brains song, but found it lacking and went with 'Drive In' instead ...good choice.)

Thus, I stupidly thought that it would be hard for them to top that record. But their next batch of songs, the Vaya EP, showed them willing to experiment and not get locked into a certain sound. The addition of the keyboards, which I was initially skeptical of, freed them by virtue of the fact that it was something they wanted to do and they did it. Seems simple enough, right?

When I spoke to singer Cedric Bixler during our interview for Rockist 002, he immediately put to rest any question of the impact that having Ross Robinson, producer for Limp Bizkit and a few other Jock Rock 2000 bands, would have on the sound of this record. And he was rightit's a good sounding record, but it doesn't sound glossy. Their rough edges were maintained. They're not pulling any punches. And most importantly, they've expanded their bag of tricks with a heightened sense of dynamics and some varied rhythms. Add in a drum machine and a freak of nature (that's Iggy Pop) and you've got one of the coolest records I've heard in while.
(ATDI PO Box 3462 Los Angeles, CA 90028
www.atthedrive-in.net
Grand Royal www.grandroyal.com)
Avail one wrench
I loved Over the James, their last album, but it seems like they wanted to exorcise the need for the loud and the tough on this time out. Not that they've forgotten the melody, but they seem like they wanted to break their own speed records.

One of the strongest performances that I saw this year was on Avail's tour with Dillinger Four and Leatherface. What a great line-up! The powerhouse this time out was the headliners who broke out a nice mix of old songs and songs from one wrench. Tim Barry sounded like he was carrying hundreds of voices with him on every song. A stronger vocal performance I haven't seen in a while.
Avail : PO Box 4785 Richmond, VA 23220
www.avail-avail.com
Fat Wreck Chords PO Box 193690 San Francisco, CA 94119-3690
www.fatwreck.com

Aviso'Hara: Our Lady of the Highway This NJ foursome gets a bit tighter and quieter on their second full-length. The vocals hooks are strong and the records sounds great. From the rockers "Dominate the Gears" and "Twilight Twenties" to the make-out tunes "No Return on Party Dresses," "Goodnight Sweetheart," and "Rain Test," they've found a nice sound, somewhere between the warm-fuzzy pop of Seam and the more angular Chavez. (aviso@slashandburn.net; Vital Cog Records PO Box 7846 Princeton, NJ 08543 www.vitalcog.com)

Aviso'Hara: Made from Scratch
Collection of early singles and demos by this cool New Jersey band. It includes one of my favorites songs of their's, "Drop the Mids," which should hold a certain fondness for any Small or Archers of Loaf fans, as well as the pummelling "Conspiracy au go go" a fuzzy-to-manic version of Prince's "Raspberry Beret," and a nice history-of-the-band-thus-far by bassist Dave Urbano. (aviso@slashandburn.net www.Slashandburn.net; Powerbunny 4x4 Records www.powerbunny.com and Vital Cog Records www.vitalcog.com)

Bad Religion : The New America Could it be that the band chose unwisely in deciding to support Blink 182 on their big U.S. tour this year? Although I'm intrigued by the idea of throngs of screaming girls and kids that think that yelling "Show us your tits" is punk hearing the crunching riffs and some of the most intelligent lyrics going, I somehow think that it was the wrong venue for this record.

I understand the challenge: to show Blink 182's teenage fans another side of punk, to get them to realize that punk isn't always cute and funny. But I wanted BR to launch a full-on assault - take a record called The New America to everyone that they can. This is an ambitious record. It's a record that encourages people to reconsider the idea of America as a "Land of Opportunity, to ask whether this love of computer technology is really helping us to live more fruitful lives, and to encourage people strive for the best in themselves.

This is Bad Religion's strongest record since Stranger than Fiction and it basically flew under everyone's radar. It is inspiring and yes, intelligent and their hooks seem fresh again. But if it's indeed time to "[w]ake up the New America" then let's not pussy foot around, alright? Change requires ideas, inititiave, AND actions.

I have wavered on whether the choices that a band makes surrounding a record can indeed our perception of the record itself. On the one hand, you can argue that a record exists independent of the promotional machinery surrounding it. However, if a record falls on deaf ears, to whose benefit does the record serve. I thought that part of the justification of a punk band in choosing to be on a major label is to reach more listeners. And when Bad Religion opened for three snotty MTV punks, did anyone listen? (www.badreligion.com)

Bald Rapunzel Diazepam
The highlight of the record is the a capella version of the Motown classic "Dark End of the Street" (the Afghan Whigs also do a killer version of this tune on their What Jail is Like EP) that opens this disc. The other songs are full of jangly guitars and interesting riffs, crashing and cascading drum patterns, and the empassioned vocals of singer Bonnie Schlegel. (baldrapunzel@resindc.com; Resin/Dischord Records PO Box 5761 Washington, DC 20016-1201)
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