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8/12/2004

This is what happens when you don't do it for a while. The tension builds, things swell, then suddenly you end up with a huge mess.
We really should do this more often.

EAR PLUGS
First, the bad news. ďDave Davies, one of the founding members of British rock group the Kinks, has been partially paralyzed by a stroke he suffered in June.Ē
http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Music/08/11/people.davies.ap/index.html 
And Iím sure you heard Rick James died this weekend (bitch!)
But letís forget about the oldies for a bit and jump on something new. Weíve been inundated with CDís lately. The problem is nobody bothers to read our FAQ/About Us/donít send us stuff if you ainít from around here warning.
But hey, itís small-label stuff that deserves someoneís attention so weíll give a word or three for Yankees and other non-Southerners before we move onto the non-imports.

First up, a mess of stuff from Dualtone, a label out of Nashville with artists from all over, such as Charlie Robison from Texas. His new CD, Good Times, is what youíd like to hear on modern country music radio but probably wonít. Itís too good. Simple, clear, basic American music. Pedal steel and a Texas accent provide the twang that defines country music but without the crappy pop sound that has infected the genre for so long, and without the incessant cry-in-your-beer blues that drag you down after a while. Thereís a mix of good times, bad times, and the days in between. Definitely worth tracking down.

Another Dualtone CD we received is Cowboy Jack Clement. Cowboy has been around a while, according to his bio. He discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis, and wrote and engineered some of Johnny Cashís big hits. The artists heís worked with in the press kit range from Louis Armstrong to U2, but letís talk about his own work, Guess Things Happen That Way. It kicks off with an overproduced country tune, No Expectations. Thereís some horns and keyboard in there that feel unnecessary and a guitar lead that sounds like a Ford commercial Ė too slick. Fortunately the title track dumps the extra instrumentation and settles into old Western Gene Autry simplicity. Johnny Cash even makes a cameo for a few seconds in the title track and others. The Jordanaires provide harmony here and there, giving things a gospel/old country feel. But a few of Jackís songs that were made more famous by others, like Itíll Be Me, come off limp by comparison. Cowboyís voice is thin and old, but without the emotional impact of others his age, such as Willie Nelson. The instrumentation is varied and often interesting, but itís a mixed bag. Reading the liner notes and press kit, the man has some great accomplishments. But I donít rate this record as one of them.

Dualtone has some kind of partnering deal with Big Hassle, a New York label who sent me The Silosí new CD, When The Telephone Rings. I gave it a listen and didnít think much of it the first time. So I let it rest in the bottom of my briefcase for a week and tried again. The second time around I mustíve been more awake or less distracted because thereís some good stuff here. Itís kind of 99X pop soft rock stuff, but with a big dose of Americana sound with violin and acoustic guitar. If you like Wilco and The Gourds, yet can still listen to top 40 without feeling mildly ill, youíll probably like The Silos.

Lotos Nile Media is also out of Nashville. They sent me a CD by Burrito Deluxe, ďfeaturing musical sage Garth Hudson of The Band and Flying Burrito Brother.Ē Oh brother, these people donít know me very well, do they? I was hesitant to even put the new CD, The Whole Enchilada, into the player. I donít like country lite, Iím not a fan of acoustic music, and goove/jam music makes me turn further and further to the dark side. But they sent me the CD so they asked for it.
The Whole Enchilada starts off with the twangy You Got Gold, a decent song sung well but with that mushy kinda California country sound I have no appreciation for. Next up they butcher The Letter. Nobody but Joe Cocker should ever approach that song again. Just donít. Things continue in an elevator-music-for-country-fans style and I honestly wanted to give in by the fourth track and give the thing to one of the old ladies at work that like this kind of crap. But I soldiered on through a sleepy instrumental to Ezekialís Wheel, a little more upbeat tune that would probably play well on CMT along side Shania and other modern pop country stars. Good melody, good harmonies in the vocals, interesting lyrics Ė if this was the wimpiest tune on the CD I could dig it. Unfortunately, it may be the strongest. They take all the funk out of zydeco for Zydecoís Ball, take all the soul out of what could be a soulful cry in your beer tune Everywhere I Go, and on and on it goes. Itís super clean, super smooth stuff, but it reminded me of both The Eagles and Alabama and I didnít like either of those bands either.

Next up, 12 Summers Old, a band out of the St. Louis area. Their new CD, 12 Summers Old, kicks off with power chord pop thatís obviously trying really hard to get onto top 40 radio. Itís even titled ďMakeout Radio.Ē The guitars are driving hard, but so fuzzy the melody often gets drowned out. I was also reminded a bit too much of The Foo Fighters. The vocals are clear with punches of harmony, but the lyrics are straight up high school poetry. Five tracks into the CD you have a hard time noticing youíve changed songs at all Ė itís just one long distorted blur. I can easily imagine The Silos getting huge on MTV. Unfortunately, Iím not in that demographic any more so I canít say I enjoyed this record.

Last and most local, Splitsville, a split CD by Catfight! and The Helgas. Longtime subscribers know these are two of my favorite bands, and some of my favorite people, so I went into it with as much bias for it as I had against Burrito Deluxe, just so you know.
Things start off with the Catfight! side, 7 tunes of basic rock. As with other Catfight! efforts, Jenniferís vocals provide the smoother punch. Katyís voice is a little grating on her tunes, but it works on punky numbers like We Make Everybody Sick or Donít Talk To Me That Way. Thereís also the expected punny, 50ís style tune with Lookiní To Score, cute to the point of novelty tune.
The CD came with a bogus press release that reads:
Dear ______,
Hereís our new _________, and man does it ______! Springing from the classic sounds of the ______ and the _______, the ________ take it to the next level! From the blazing _______ to the hard-hitting _________ this record has it all! From the opening strains of _____ to the final chords of ______; ______ delivers all the _______ you have come to expect from ________.
I thought it was goddamn hilarious, particularly after trying to read the nauseating crap that came with the other CDís: ďThe Silos is an entity that is both as simple and complex as America itself. In complex times, some things have never been clearer. The life referenced in the song ĎWhistled A Slow Waltzí stands up to be counted and gleaned from questions of heart over commerce and the ability of family to carry the load when it is too heavy for any one man. From the sentiment of ĎThe Only LoveíĒ to the heartbreaking elegy that is the title track, this is a record that is both a reflection of this country and a comment on what matters most. It speaks of feelings that need to be heard. It asks America to take heart and to cherish what is real.Ē
You know what is real? The Helgas. Real talent, real energy, real melody combined to make really good pop punk. The only thing lacking is more tunes. The Helgas only have 6 songs on this disc and, as far as I know, they arenít new moms like members of Catfight! And the tunes are short and punchy, leaving you wanting. But hey, you can get more. Catfight! and The Helgas play a CD release show Friday, August 27, at the Star Bar with The Plastics.

In other local news, The Fortyfives have a short interview on The Onionís web site:
http://www.theonionavclub.com/jye/index.php?issue=4032


FILM FLAM
The weekly drive in vote went to Collateral this week. I thought Jamie Foxx did a fine job, but Tom Cruise seems to cruise through his role. It was supposed to be suspenseful and gripping, but I was ungripped.
Meh.
We stuck around for I, Robot, a flick Iíd wanted to see for a while. Will Smith does the usual Will Smith character, with too little humor and too much mock sadness, but the graphics were purty. Otherwise itís dull. I even snoozed off for the last two minutes at the height of the action.
Meh.
Speaking of movies, we got a ton of corrections to last weekís review of The Manchurian Candidate. One of these days weíll have to get an intern to do fact checking around here:

I know you're much more of a film buff than I am, but I need to correct 2 things: I believe the evil mother in the original Manchurian Candidate was Angela Landsberry, and Frank Sinatra shocked the world in 1951 (11 years earlier or so) when he won the Academy Award for best Supporting actor in "From Here to Eternity." (Didn't Mario Puzo allude to how much he, or the Sinatra -like character, wanted the part in "The Godfather"?) It was his big comeback after the bobby soxers grew up and had forgotten about him.
I saw the original Candidate in the late 1980's or early 1990's when it was finally released and it was so good it gave me a headache. However, when I saw it a few weeks ago again on PBS, I was a bit disappointed with Old Blue Eyes' acting. (It was also harder for me to suspend reality this time and buy that people can be brainwashed to kill and not remember... guess I'm not as much fun these days.) I haven't felt compelled to catch the remake yet.
Keep up the good work,
Degenerate AM

For more, check out the Internet Movie Database:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056218/ 
Thanks to the attentive ones out there who keep us on track.
Oh, and I guess now we know whatever happened to Fay Wray, that delicate, satin-draped frameÖ
http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Movies/08/09/obit.wray.ap/index.html


BLASPHEMY
Hereís a bunch of interesting stuff about the current administration:
Ron Reagan in Esquire Magazine, posted on Michael Mooreís site:
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/index.php?id=124
Someone did some statistical analysis of the terror alert announcement timing:
http://juliusblog.blogspot.com/2004_08_01_juliusblog_archive.html#109156476570482138  (scroll down to the August 5 entry.)
Sure, itís on a blog and sure, thereís lies, damn lies, and statistics, but it reflects my feelings so Iím posting it.


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