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These days I've begun to dread getting free CD's in the mail. Too often it's something awful, or something that's just not my taste, or both. And I've been at this long enough so that I rarely run into anything new and making the time to listen to the freebies and write up a review has become more like work than a fun hobby. Fortunately at my "real" job I have occasional down time so at least I'm getting paid, in a sense, to put fingers to keyboard and rant or rave about the latest disc.
This week it's the self-titled CD by Bullets of Orange, a band out of
Nashville that has nothing to do with the sounds you'd normally associate with that town. Instead, what you get is a mouthful of pop rocks. But unfortunately it's also a mouthful of Pepsi and you might not feel so good afterward. It's just too sticky sweet. The vocals soar a bit too often, the lyrics are melodramatic to the point of silly, and the production is smooth to the point of slick. It's not all bad - if I were a hormone-addled teenager this would probably be great. And I'm sure this is destined to be big on mainstream radio. They could comfortably open for anyone on 99X, and herein lies the problem - despite the interesting electronic elements and strings mixed into their sound, the overdramatic vocals and lyrics come across as hokey. It reminds me of a later U2 album and there's a good reason I haven't bought anything by them in a while.
There's talent here. The singer has a great range. But he needs to climb up and down those scales when he feels it, for emphasis, not with every line. The producer can mix an interesting sound. But it's tough to tell if there's any other talent under that barrage of electronic noise. It tends to drown out whatever hooks might be there.
Next on the heap is local rap artist Royce. I think this is the first
rap/hip hop/new soul CD we've been sent. Degenerate Press is not known for our reviews of the genre, but I'm glad someone out there thinks we might expand our horizons. I listen to the occasional rap artist, but, much like my rock tastes, they're almost all old school.
"Why do you need new bands? Everyone knows rock attained perfection in
1974. It's a scientific fact."
Like most white folks my age, the only rap albums I own are the Beastie Boys and a Public Enemy record or two. No, I'm not proud of it, I'm just lazy. But I do enjoy a few new artists in the field and I'm always up for something new.
From the opening moments of this CD, you know it's a one-man effort. It has that sound that can only come from one guy putting together electronic strings and whatever other instruments came pre-programmed with the keyboard. It comes off as cheap. Too many other artists have used strange noise, sampled obscure tunes, and put together sounds that were entirely new. This is not.
The words have that straight-to-the-point crudeness that seems to be in fashion with radio-friendly hip-hop.
"Bounce wit me/All my cuties at the tables red eye up in the club
Bounce wit me/All my playas in the back row with that drink in your cup
Bounce wit me/All my hotties on the dance floor shake-shake-sahkin' it up
Bounce wit me/Come on and bounce with me bounce bounce wit me
Bounce bounce wit me bounce bounce wit me"
Most of the songs are more soulful, at least in sound if not lyrical
content, but I think you get the idea. Usually I listen to a CD two or three times to make sure I grasp whatever subtleties an artist might offer, but somehow halfway through this recording I was pretty sure I got the point. I gave it a second listen, just in case, but couldn't make it through. Not my cup of tea, though the lyrics sound like something you'd hear on the radio, so it wouldn't surprise me if Royce and a new producer could make something of this.
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