Good Intentions: Still Shirking Reviewing Responsibilities

In this continuing series of columns with pithy headlines, one lackadaisical editor shuffles through the pile of CDs that sits in the northwest corner of his desk and writes brief and biased capsule reviews that, whether too far in advance of a street date or long after the album’s been out, rarely serve any purpose beyond the clearing of his own conscience.

And hey, maybe someone out there likes them. I’d think of it as a Consumer Guide-style approach, but that’s giving this way too much credit, as this is just the physical releases that I picked out of the thousands of CDs that wash over my desk. In reality, it’s the aftermath of a crapshoot.

Ancestors Of Sound Mind. One of Tee Pee Records’ strongest younger bands (and by younger, I mean younger than Sleep), Of Sound Mind’s psychedelic stoner approach is a good way to start any morning, with the bang-for-your-buck 70-odd minute play time through endless vamping and leads. Uniqueness in this genre is a difficult thing, and they’ve done much to rise above the fuzzy crowd, but if Of Sound Mind is trailblazing, it needs more hooks to get others to follow. A la Sleep. Keeper.

Oxbow Fuckfest. Hydra Head’s reissue of the band’s 1990 debut. Remastered and now including some probably gorgeous liner notes that I didn’t get (the irritating lament of the collector), Fuckfest shows the band as the Melvins-y hardcore experimentalists they began as before Eugene S. Robinson decided he was a poet. I wouldn’t argue that point, but this is the tortured and ugly scream of early ‘90s youth. Dig that H.W. Bush recession vibe. And no one’s going to sell a million copies of a record called Fuckfest, so points there too. Keeper.

Diablo Swing Orchestra Sing Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious. Swedish swing with distorted guitar that lacks surprises, but nonetheless it remains musically apt and larger than its overall gimmick. I can only imagine the market for something like this is dudes who dig the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies but didn’t think they were brutal enough. Not bad, but not for me.

Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen Inspiration Information Vol. 4. Part of Strut Records’ Inspiration Information Series, the jazz-afrobeat collaboration is a fertile one, but the front side of the record is by far the stronger. The tracks with MC Allonymous really shine. Keeper.

Bouncing Souls Ghosts On The Boardwalk. A collection of the singles that the Souls digitally released (and on some tour-only 7-inches) last year—one a month, in celebration of their 20th anniversary—Ghosts On The Boardwalk is more in line with their Jersey Shore-style Anchors Aweigh and Gold Record material than the early stuff, expectedly. And so all those who are still pining for the next “Kate Is Great,” this won’t be the record to find it—cause it’s already written. Trying to argue with the Souls’ sound at this point is futile. Local boys continue to make good. Keeper.

MayOrWest We, The End. This is one of those rare situations where I agreed to review a record before listening to a single song from the artist. After I did, I ignored the release, as I didn’t want to say anything bad about these local guys, as I didn’t consider it constructive at this stage in their career. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Azaghal Teraphim. Getting through one of these columns without stumbling on black metal is almost impossible, as I am a glutton for punishment and corpsepaint, and I have an unusually high level of respect for dudes who consistently make albums that most of the developed world considers unlistenable. Teraphim is most effective when it flirts with death metal (like real death metal, not this blackened death nonsense), on tracks like “Filosofi,” and on a whole, the record’s got charm. I’m a sucker. Keeper.

Gwynbleidd Nostalgia. I wasn’t sure what to expect from these Brooklyn metallers who espouse the typical and ambiguous “progressive-black-death” tag, but ended up getting something of a cross between Primordial and Opeth. So, they’ve got that going for them. Their arrangements aren’t up to their forebears, but Nostalgia’s a solid offering. Let’s hope they keep it up. Keeper.