Sunday, April 30, 2006

An Idle Threat

In February, I threatened to stop running Google on my name every other month, but I haven't been able to stop.

What can I say? I'm addicted. Even if the results look the same every time. Why do I
do it? To assuage my ego, naturally. Whether it shows or not, I put a fair amount of work
into my reviews, and I'd hate to think no one's reading them.

However illusory, Google makes me feel as if my efforts hav-
en't gone unnoticed. So here are the latest stats: 194,000
hits for my full name, 30,600 hits for the short version
(lately the former has been growing, while the latter has
been shrinking). These are some of the more interesting sites.

Air America:
Amazon review of Nada Surf - The Weight Is a Gift
AMG review of Lida Husik - Bozo

Bickett Gallery:
Amazon review of Style Wars

Chicago Pride:
Amazon review of Latter Days

Iceberg Radio:
AMG bio of Mr. Airplane Man

[Contacted the duo to confirm a few details--nice folks!]

Amazon review of House, M.D.

Amazon review of Huff - The Complete First Season

The Stranger:
Tablet review of Lushy - S/T
Amazon review of The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder - Punk & New Wave

[Tom Kipp used the excerpt with Kim Fowley in his fine Pop Studies Conference paper on the thin weird duke's Outrageous.
I had no idea this "Plan Nine From Outer Space" of albums was
the source for Sonic Youth's sublime "Bubblegum."]

Twist & Shout:
Amazon review of New York Doll

Note: Images from the AMG, Creem online (it lives!), and
Julian Cope's Head Heritage, which features a fun review.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We All Like Spike

I haven't seen either, so I can't vouch for their quality, but I plucked these two back-to-back Tribeca Film Festival reviews from The Village Voice simply because both mention the man of the hour: Spike Lee. More than that, Lee is teamed with Martin Scorsese in the first, with Charles Dickens (!) in the second. The significance? After a few years of bad press and bad reviews, the tide appears to be turning. Inside Man is a hit and Lee is more of an influence than ever before. Also, while I agree with Manohla Dargis that "race matters" (see her review of Inside Man for the details), I like the way Lee is compared to great talents like Scorsese and Dickens--with no mention of race.


Punching at the Sun

A South Asian teen grapples with the loss of his brother on the mean streets of Elmhurst, Queens. Tanuj Chopra's first feature doesn't deviate much from the coming-of-age template, but it has a tenderness and intimacy that recall recent small-scale NYC triumphs like Our Song and Raising Victor Vargas, not to mention a dazed summer-in-the-city energy proudly lifted from early Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. Dennis Lim

Shoot the Messenger

An acerbic identity-politics analysis served up in a contemporary picaresque, Ngozi Onwurah's sprightly satire combines wry, dark humor with TV-movie style melodrama. "I hate black people," soliloquizes protag Joe. "I hate being black. Being black feels like a curse." Cursed he may be: Joe's fortunes propel him from hardnosed schoolteacher to homeless beggar, mental patient, Christian charity case, job placement officer, and cocktail partygoer. The film travels through these numerous pockets of black British culture with an eye for social detail that's equal parts Spike Lee and Charles Dickens. Ed Halter


Note: For my tribute to Lee, click here. Punching the Sun image from Film Freak (which panned the film), Shoot the Messenger image from the Tribeca Film Festival website.
Dinosaur Jr. - An Encounter With the Beast: Part Three

Conclusion of a 1989 inter-
view from KCMU's Wire.

***** ***** ***** *****

Click here for part two

Fennessy: I read [a piece with] Thurston Moore saying he thought Bug was better than Daydream Nation. He said this in the same interview where he talked about all these "bugs" that came out in 1988, like your album, then the U-Men had Step on a Bug, and then Das Damen had the song "Bug." I was just wondering why all that happened. Any thoughts on why all of a sudden that was the big thing?

Murph: I don't know.

J: The Harmonic Convergence.

J: I think it was the Harmonic Convergence.

[Ah, the '80s...]

Murph: Mm-hmm. [To me] Do you like Daydream Nation?

Fennessy: I like it a lot. I know a lot of hard-
core Sonic Youth fans who really don't like it.

Murph: Yeah, it's all right. I like their other stuff better... Evol was pretty insane. I thought that was great.

Fennessy: Sister was prob-
ably the first thing I heard.

[On consideration, I think it was actually the "Death Valley '69" EP with Lydia Lunch.]

Murph: We toured with them on our first
tour when they did Evol. It was really hot.

Fennessy: Do you like the Ciccone Youth album?

Murph: Yeah, I like it a lot. I've just heard it rec-
ently. I like it better than Sonic Youth actually.

Fennessy: How about psychedelic-type stuff? Do you get that sort of reference--is that anything that you do on purpose?

J: What are you talking about?

Fennessy: People that describe you as "psychedelic."

Murph: I kind of conceive like if I was on drugs, we might
sound really cool. I don't do drugs anymore, and I especially don't do drugs and listen to us, so I wouldn't know, but there have been people tripping on acid at our shows who are just, "Wow, you guys are totally intense."

Fennessy: [to Steve] :
What was I supposed to ask about the Pixies?

Steve: J played with them.

Fennessy: Did you really?

J: At a party. There was this party where all these bands
recorded at this studio, and I played [on] "Gigantic."

Fennessy: You played guitar?

J: Yeah.

[J has also played drums in Deep Wound, with G.G. Allin,
and in the Allison Anders film Things behind the Sun.]

Fennessy: Who does the cover art for all your albums?

J: Maura Jasper.

Murph: This has been a good interview—believe it or not.

Fennessy: Really?

Murph: Yeah, usually we don't say much.

Fennessy: I haven't done many. I don't know how to...

Murph: But we're just so tired. We're bab-
bling on and on, and you've caught it all!

In any case, Dinosaur Jr. answered some musical questions,
but they preferred to digress into meandering conversations about music other than their own. No real answers as to how these "regular" guys are able to create such an extraordinary noise, but I did learn a few things from this interview: J and Murph aren't half as unfriendly or uncooperative as I'd heard, they don't know much about politics (I'm no expert either), and although they don't reveal much--they're still cool folks. Good enough for me.

Note: All images from the AMG (the late great Naomi Peterson credited for the first). End part three of three. Incidentally, I ran into J at Cellophane Square almost a year after this interview took place. Much had changed since I saw him last. Lou Barlow was out of the band, Don Fleming (the Velvet Monkeys, Gumball) was in, and they were signed to a major label (Warner Brothers). Despite being less than forthcoming when we met in 1989, he seemed genuinely happy to see me, and we had a pleasant chat.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dinosaur Jr. - An Encounter With the Beast: Part Two

Part two of a 1989 inter-
view from KCMU's Wire.

***** ***** ***** *****

Click here for part one

Fennessy: When did you do the "Just Like Heaven" single?

J: We recorded it about a year ago.

Fennessy: I was wondering how you had the time to do that...

Murph: I think that song's pretty cool. I like that.

J: It's okay. I mean, it's better than "Show Me the
Way" [from 1987's You're Living All Over Me].

Fennessy: You didn't like that one? That's the impression I got.

J: No, I didn't like it.

Fennessy: Was it a joke or was it serious?

J: Yeah, Peter Frampton's a jerk.

Fennessy: I thought it was a good sing-
le. It's kind of "straight," but I like that.

J: Uh-huh. I don't know...I try to forget.

Fennessy: Were you mad that people were really into it?

J: I never got that impression.

Murph: Yeah, I got the impression that people hated it.

J: They hated it.

Fennessy: Is it true that your first album [Dinosaur] is a demo tape, that Homestead just put it out that way?

J: They told us to put out
an album. We did one.

Fennessy: I read something that says, "It sounds like a demo tape, because it is."

J: Well, we had to pay for the recording, and we didn't have any money, so it only cost us five hundred bucks to record it.

Murph: Yeah, we did it in this guy's basement that we knew.

Fennessy: How do you feel about that album?

J: It's weird, it's really weird, I think.

Steve: I agree.

Murph: I like it.

Fennessy: I like it a lot. To me it's really eclectic, because there's so much different sounding stuff on it. ["Different sounding stuff"?]

J: Yeah, because we hadn't really played together that long.

Murph: I never listen to stuff after we've
done it, so I totally forget about stuff.

Click here for part three

Note: All images from the AMG. End part two of three.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dinosaur Jr. - An Encounter With the Beast: Part One

Here's the transcript of another interview from KCMU's Wire. As with my Lucinda Williams piece, I've made a few changes to my intro and outro, but I've left the Q&A as is, with the exception of the phrase "you guys" (what was I thinking?). The publication date was sometime in 1989. In the meantime, Merge has reissued Dinosaur Jr.'s early (Homestead and SST) recordings and the original trio even reformed to tour in support of them. Who saw that coming? At the time I met with J (Joseph D. Mascis), Murph (Emmett Patrick Murphy), and then-manager Steve, Lou Barlow (Sebadoh) was just days away from leaving the group.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

There are a couple of reasons why I was intimidated about interviewing Dinosaur Jr. First of all, they have a reputation for hating interviews. When they do show up for them, they often have little to say. It's a lot of work for the interviewer to try to get them to talk, little fun for this rather private band to do so, and boring for the reader who wants to learn more about them, only to discover that: They just don't reveal much!

So why did I want to want to interview them at all? Well, I think Dinosaur Jr. is one of the best groups on the scene today. There isn't another rock combo putting things together quite like they do. Imagine a vocal approach that recalls vintage folk-rock, like early Dylan or Neil Young, mated with a late-1960s power trio dynamic, like Hendrix or Cream, but taken further into the guitar-as-wall-of-sound 1980s via Husker Du and Sonic Youth. And there ya go: Dinosaur Jr. They look backward, they look forward--they never look straight ahead. Confusion reigns supreme. They're the ultimate band for our strange, pre-apocalyptic times

Those are the reasons why I was intimidated about interviewing Dinosaur Jr. But everything seemed to go okay. Basically, they weren't the most articulate or outgoing guys around, but J (vocals, guitar) and Murph (drums) were two of the most down-to-earth--if sarcastic--musicians I've met in some time, and I actually enjoyed talking with them. There aren't any deep or penetrating insights here, but they did have something to say about just about everything. With hope, you'll at least come away with a better idea as to what they're like as people. Read on!

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Fennessy: I've been told that you are really tired, and I know you've been to Europe...

J: Well, we went to Europe, and now we are here.

Fennessy: I was wondering if you could talk about your European tour. It seemed like you got a really big reception there, especially in England; I just read so much press.

J: In Germany we were really big. In England...we're cool.

Fennessy: Were you surprised at the reception you got in England? I mean, I just got the impression they thought you were the next--the biggest thing.

Murph: We're still on our way up. We're going back after this tour.

J: We were really, really big in Germany.

Murph: Yeah.

J: We were like, got like all "best band" awards and all this garbage... Germany was bigger than England.

Fennessy: It's just the British press. I'm not familiar with what people would think in Germany.

Murph: Yeah. The British press is really harsh, though.

Fennessy: Not on you! It seemed like everybody was really into your album [Bug].

Murph: But they're just--I'm not really into the way they write. They use like these totally flaming metaphors.

J: And they live it. The scary thing is they live off it. I mean, the papers come out every week.

Murph: And the people just seem totally susceptible to whatever they say.

Click here for part two

Note: All images from the AMG (Robert Goldstein
credited for the second photo). End part one of three.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hypatia Lake, "...And We Shall Call Him Joseph," Sad Robot

From the neon pink cover art to the sonics within, "...And We Shall Call Him Joseph" is a flashback to--but not a rip-off of--Dayglo-era Love Battery. (2002 debut Your Universe, Your Mind rocked the neon chartreuse.) While one Seattle band may be alive and kicking, the other dead and gone, their music is similarly dark and fuzzy--sometimes quiet and lovely, sometimes loud and distorted.

Divided into "scenes" (rather than songs), the local quartet's second concept recording concerns a rebellious candy factory worker in the fictional town of Hypatia Lake. In other words: S.F. Sorrow meets Willy Wonka. Do they pull it off? Hard to say as the guitars and keyboards frequently overwhelm the vocals, but it's a sure bet that adherents of 1960s psychedelia and 1990s shoegaze will find common ground in this Roald Dahl-inspired song cycle.

Note: Yes, the ellipses before and quotation marks around the album title are intentional. Punctuation--gotta love it. Poster and band images from Hypatia Lake's MySpace page.
I Am Trini Alvarado

Do you remember Trini Alvarado? She's third from the right in this poster for 1994's Little Women. Some movie mavens may also recall her from the new wave-saturated Times Square (1980) and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners (1996). Well, I'm not really Alvarado and I don't look much like her, but I do look like this image.

In case you've ever wondered why my picture on this site is represented by a portrait of Barbara Stanwyck, circa Double Indemnity (1944), the answer is because: 1) I love Ms. Stanwyck, and 2) I don't currently have access to a scanner, so I'm unable to post a snapshot of the real me...but I will someday, I swear.

That said, just as I don't look much like the non-posterized Alvarado, I really don't look Stanwyck. (Then again, who does?) But now you know what I do look like. I've also been told I resemble Mary Louise Parker and Elizabeth Perkins--both currently starring in Weeds--but I would beg to differ.

Endnote: Poster/DVD cover image from Wikipedia. After disappearing from the scene for awhile, Alvarado makes a reappearance in Todd Field's Little Children (2006).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Scott H. Biram
Graveyard Shift
Bloodshot Records

[7/18/06 release date]

All I want in this creation,
A good lovin' woman and a long vacation.
-- Scott H. Biram, "Been Down Too Long"

The blurry cover of Scott H. Biram's new CD made me happy
at first. "Hey," I realized, "It's a fox!" I love foxes. In fact, I thought the cap-stealing canine [above left] in Grizzly Man almost stole the show from the big bears (and their bizarre human guardian). Then I took a closer look. Something is seriously wrong with this fox [below right]: Its eyes are bugged-out, its tongue is lolling on
the ground. Worse yet—its guts are exposed. It's roadkill.

As for the music, you could say Biram "exposes his guts" on his fifth full-length. Or to keep the analogy going, the Austin-based artist combin-
es gospel, country, and gut-
bucket blues. Influences in-
clude Hank Williams (he's
toured with his tattooed loveboy of a grandson),
Bill Monroe, and John Lee Hooker. He's also been compared to Iggy Pop (the Stooges) and Lemmy (Motörhead), but I think that has more to do with his famously raucous live gigs, although the final track, "Church Babies," does sound a little like Metallica...unplugged...on Mescaline...and bad Mexican food (it ends with a toilet flush).

Graveyard Shift also brings to mind Nick Cave, circa Tender Prey (which includes the classic "Mercy Seat"), and the late Hasil Adkins, while the press kit tosses out the descriptors "psychobil-
ly gospel" and "ultra-primal blues and rock-and-roll with a count-
ry heart." The CD booklet exclaims, "Scott H. Biram is a one man band!!" As such, it's tempting to compare him to early Billy Bragg, except they don't sound much alike and their approach to song-
writing—Biram's tunes revolve around sin and salvation, reefer, and truckers—have little in common. (Alas, Biram was hit by an 18-wheeler a few years ago and lost a portion of his, um, guts in the process. Otherwise, he made a full recovery). But I wouldn't
be surprised if Biram digs Woodie Guthrie, too.

Here's something else I learned from the CD notes, and I think it says a lot about Biram: "Dedicated to the memory of my best friend Steev 'The Sleev' Smith. Garage sales, BBQ joints, and firework stands all over the world miss your stench. RIP my brother." BBQ joints? Firework stands? If you haven't heard Biram before, you're probably wondering: Is this guy white trash?

Well, some folks—often of the pastiest ilk—consider that designation rather offensive, so I'll refrain from using it.
But I wouldn't be surprised if Biram describes himself as
such—with pride. And he does use the phrase in the title
track, i.e. "I'm a death dealin' creep in a white trash town,
my work starts up when the sun goes down."

For those keeping score at home, Biram's previous record-
ings include This Is Kingsbury? (2001), Preachin' and Holler-
in' (2002), Lo-Fi Mojo (2003), and The Dirty Old One Man Band
(2005), the first three self-released. His instrument of choice is
a 1959 Gibson hollow-body electric. He makes the most of it.
Other "instruments" include "CB radio, loudspeaker, breathing, harmonica, gut all acoustic and electric guitars, Hammond B3 organ, homemade footstomp board, hi-hat, tambourine, claps, hambone, Bible thump, special effects, random noises."

Of the three CDs Bloodshot has sent my way over the past few months—the others were Mark Pickerel's Snake in the Radio and the Bottle Rockets' Zoy-
—Graveyard Shift is my favorite. The phrase I keep coming back to is "shit kickin'." And I mean that in the best possible sense. On the artier side of the equation, you've got books like Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark and movies like Tommy Lee Jones' The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. If you dig that kinda stuff—Sam Peckinpah, too—Biram is the musical equivalent.

Look out Devil you better step aside,
You ain't big enough to interrupt my stride.
-- Scott H. Biram, "Been Down Too Long"

Note: CD image from Bloodshot Records, Grizzly Man im-
age from Ruthless Reviews, Three Burials image from The
Big Screen Cinema Guide
, and Scott H. Biram poster image
from his official website, First Church of the Ultimate Fanaticism.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Unwed Sailor, Circles, Burnt Toast Vinyl

Circles consists of two tracks. Fortunately, it isn't a full-length, but "Mist" (11:09) and "Mesa" (5:17) are longer than your average pop tunes. Then again, this isn't pop. The EP follows The Marionette and the Music Box (2003) and precedes Unwed Sailor's third long player, The White Ox, set to be released this August. Both were recorded in Bloomington, IN by main man Johnathon Ford (Pedro the Lion) with Daniel Burton, Phillip Blackwell, and Matt Griffin. Ford has since relocated to Seattle.

As mentioned in my review of Belong's October Language, instrumental rock isn't really my thing. When it comes to music, the first things I usually listen for are the vocals, followed by the beat, and then the lyrics. In that order. Everything else comes later. So how to evaluate a recording devoid of those elements? Well, "Mesa" has a subtle groove to it, so that helps. "Mist" is more ambient. Artists that come to mind include Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel. Both pieces are soothing, but not soporific, although a third or more variety within the two would've been welcome. Circles but doesn't go as far, do as much as it should. As a "taster" for Unwed Sailor's upcoming album, however, it gets the job done, i.e. I look forward to hearing the CD (and I'd never heard the band before). The cover design is by James Marsh, who has produced Talk Talk's album art since 1982, much of which is quite lovely--same with Circles.

Note: Band image from the AMG. James Marsh's "The Heart of the Rainforest" from the Cutter Gallery.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

All Kinds of Cats

Black Merda, The Folks From Mother's Mixer, Funky Delicacies

This eagerly awaited release combines two rare recordings, 1970's Black Merda and 1972's Long Burn the Fire ("The Folks From Mother's Mixer" comes from the latter). Formed in Detroit in the mid-60s, the sharp-dressed quartet combined psych-rock with soul and blues. They got their start by backing Edwin Starr and the Temptations before striking off on their own. Instead of Westbound or Motown, they signed to Chess, then later Janus. Hence, they're frequently compared to Hendrix and fellow Motor City denizens Funkadelic ("Over and Over" could be a Maggot Brain outtake). I also hear the Chambers Brothers in their gospel-tinged harmonies, War in their propulsive chants, and Taj Mahal in their laidback country-blues numbers, like "Reality." (Can you say eclectic?) As with the Chambers, they were a "brother" band, as well, with Anthony (lead guitar) and Charles (guitar) Hawkins joined by VC L. Veasey (bass) and Tyrone Hite (drums). Bob Crowder replaced Hite on the second album, by which point they were calling themselves Mer-Da. The Folks From Mother's Mixer is an essential addition to the funk fanatic's collection. It isn't as hard as I was expecting, but it's definitely got the groove.

Cougars, Pillow Talk, Go Kart

There are eight members in Cougars. And they're a rock band. According to the CD booklet, the instrumental line-up on their Steve Albini-produced third record breaks down like this: vocals, drums, guitar, guitar, bass, synthesizer, saxophone, and trumpet. So it's loud and it's noisy, but at least they aren't all shouting in unison. It's just one angsty fellow (Matthew Irie) yelling his throat raw over the roiling waves of sound. The press notes compare the Chicago octet--there, I got to say it!--to Rocket From the Crypt, and I can hear that, but mostly they return me to those halcyon Chi-town and Minneapolis days of yore, specifically the Touch & Go/Amrep stable of the 1980s and 1990s, i.e. the Jesus Lizard, the Laughing Hyenas, and Halo of Flies. The use of trumpet almost makes 'em sound like a ska band at times, but for the most part, Cougars are rawk. And the song titles are something else: "There's No 'High' in Team," "Someone Out There Has My Boner Picture," etc. Near as I can tell, all the lyrics are about sex: "She likes to take control," "Wrap yourself around my face and hips," "My God what a mouth you sport," et al. I like it, I don't like it. If this were 1991, I'd probably like it a lot more than I do right now.

Note: This year, Touch & Go celebrates its 25th (!) anniversary. Biographical information on Black Merda from the CD liner notes by James Porter and Dan Nishimoto. Incidentally, the AMG supplies different release dates: 1967 for the debut, 1971 for the follow-up. Cover image from Amazon.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Showers...
Make Seattle Damp

Here are the reviews I'm
working on for this month.

Amazon: Remington Steele - The Complete Third Season [four-disc set] (my second Steele review), Forty Shades of Blue (Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner with Rip Torn), The Syrian Bride (with Hiam Abbass of Satin Rouge), Full House - The Com-
plete Third Season
[four-disc set] (yes, I also reviewed
season one), Dr. Dolittle 3, Green Street Hooligans, My Family and Other Animals, Mates of State - Bring It Back, Gomez - How We Operate (loved their last CD, which I reviewed for Tablet),
Jewel - Goodbye Alice in Wonderland (my Mom's met her Mom--
hey, it's an Alaska thing),
Sonya Kitchell - Words Came Back to Me, One Last Thing (with Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon), and
Austin City Limits - 2005 Music Festival [two-disc set].

Resonance: The Old
Haunts - Fuel on Fire.
I previously review-
ed the fine sophomore
outing from this Olym-
pia threesome

Seattle Sound: Laguna! - Outside Casa (second CD from this local trio) and Juana Molina -
(fantastic fourth release from this Argentinean superhero:
singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and popul-
ar comedienne). These reviews were cut from the May issue,
but they'll appear in June when
Seattle Sound goes monthly.

Siffblog: Phantom India Louis Malle's French doc series from
Protocols of Zion (controversial doc from Slam's Marc
Innocence (acclaimed first feature from Lucile Hadziha-
lilovic, Gaspar Noé's former editor),
Mouchette, Woman Is the Future of Man (from South Korea's Hong Sangsoo), and The Intruder, the latest masterwork of mystification from Claire Denis.
Incidentally, while watching Paris, Texas recently, I was reminded
that Denis and her trusty cinematographer, Agnès Godard--along
with Allison Anders--served as assistants on that famous film.

Endnote: My 50th post! The Intruder images

from Senses of Cinema and The Village Voice.
Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest

The Old Haunts, Fuel
on Fire, Kill Rock Stars

Fuel on Fire is that rare recording I took to right from the start. (None of that "it had to grow on me" stuff.) Is it because Craig Extine has one of those intense, yet reedy voices, like Jack White or Jeffrey Lee Pierce? (Alec Ounsworth, of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, also comes to mind.) Is it because the Olympia trio adds a generous helping of blues and rockabilly to their rock-based recipe? Is it because the tracks on their Johnny Sangster-produced sophomore outing conjure up the Bayou (though layed down in Seattle)? Yes, yes, and yes. The rollicking threesome kicks up a nice little ruckus indeed. Just when you think they're a guitar band, they throw a piano into the mix ("Filled In"). Just when you think they're a garage group, they toss a ballad into the equation ("Unveil the Key"). Well okay, "ballad" may be a stretch, but "Unveil" does prove the Old Haunts can slow down the pace without destroying the momentum.

Mountain Con, Sancho Panza, Hidden Peak

Hmmm, the Plastic Constellations have a song called "Sancho Panza" on their new CD. Something in the air? The water? (More likely, these young musos were all simply assigned Cervantes in high school.) As for the tunes, I can't think of any reason alt-rock kids shouldn't hip-hop up their rock & roll. I'm not sure who was the first, but it seems to me that Beck, circa the still-amazing Odelay, got the balance right before anyone else--and has been struggling to maintain it ever since. This local sextet doesn't sound like a hydra-headed Mista Hansen, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were one of their inspirations. Then again, I prefer their music when they leave the rapping and the electronic beats behind. "Devotion is So 20th Century," for instance, evokes T-Rex in a most appealing way, while "The Silver Age" is a slow, Eno-styled burner. Of course, I'm a big time Glamster, but I really do think it's on these numbers where Mountain Con best finds their voice.

Note: Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest, aka "Little Kids Bring Zucchinis and Stay All Day," is the title of the Young Fresh Fellows debut. Probably the first local indie-rock release I ever heard--and still one of the best (especially "Rock 'n' Roll Pest Control"). Old Haunts images from their website.