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, 2000

Vol. 2 * Issue 11

 On Tap CD Reviews:

Brainfang
We Right the Songs

www.brainfang.com

 

Click here to listen to "Bonecrusher"

Listening to the debut effort from Fairfax-based Brainfang, I'm reminded of a question a professor posed during a class on ethics and science: just because we can do something, does that mean we should? He was referring to things like genetic manipulation, which offer the potential for revolutionary advances in the way we practice medicine but open the door to serious abuses and unintended consequences, but he could just as well have had Brainfang in mind. In their case, being able to burn a CD clearly doesn't mean they should have.

From unbelievably insipid lyrics ("You can feed yourself/ You can brush your teeth/ You can wipe your ass with a coca leaf" --; "Dickless Chimp") to an overabundance of annoying samples, these guys write the songs that make the whole world cringe.

That said, theirs isn't a lost cause. "Outerspace Has a Speed Limit, Karen" opens with a nice slide/acoustic guitar harmony that brings to mind some of Dada's mellower songs before blowing its potential in the chorus. "Help Me Let Me Out" slows down Juliana Hatfield's "Spin the Bottle", slaps on some new lyrics and makes it work. And "Bonecrusher" boasts a funked-out bass line and drum beat that would fit right in on the Beastie Boys' Ill Communication, plus a guitar solo the Boy's only wish they'd come up with.

Brainfang say they have four CDs in production. If they slow down and put some serious thought into a single recording, they just might create something that justifies the effort.

Their drinking partners would be: any high school band with decent chops and nothing to say.

Rating: 9

WE WANT YOUR OPINION: Download tracks from We Right the Songs free at www.ontaponline.com and let us know what you think.

 

Run DMC
Grand Royal
Arista

www.rundmc.net

From the vastly under-appreciated cinematic tour-de-force Krush Groove, to their rap-meets-metal pairing with Aerosmith on "Walk this Way", Run DMC charted new ground virtually every time they recorded back in the '80s. The first rap group to score a gold album (self-titled), first rap group to go platinum (Raising Hell) and first rap group to have a video screened on MTV, they paved their own way and laid the ground for an entire genre of music.

But that was then and this is now. Seven years after their last studio album, Down With the King, Run DMC is back, with Grand Royal set for release on Feb. 27. Based on the first single, "Rock Show"--;which features Third Eye Blind's Stephen Jenkins--;the group's trailblazing days are over.

I don't blame 'em for ripping off Kid Rock's metal guitar plus turntable approach--;hell, he copied them in the first place--;but recycling the lyrics to Rob Base's "It Takes Two" is a major let down. Blame it all on Santana, whose unexpected success with Supernatural has inspired legions of washed-up rockers to put down their canes and pair up with today's pop faves for one last shot at glory. On Grand Royal Run DMC joins forces with everyone from Fred Durst to Everlast to Sugar Ray to Kid Rock. The songs will undoubtedly be good--;"Rock Show" is certainly as solid as anything on the radio right now--;but if you're looking for another genre-bending lesson from the deans of rap, you're likely to be disappointed.

Their drinking partners would be: All of the aforementioned collaborators

Rating: Three shots(hey, they're still Run DMC)

Boy Hits Car
Boy Hits Car
Wind-Up Records

www.boyhitscar.com

Appearing at the 9:30 Club on 2/11/01 as part of the SNO-CORE ROCK tour with Fear Factory, Kittie, Union Underground and Slaves on Dope.

Boy Hits Car's eponymous debut album is scheduled to hit the streets the same day as this issue, but with a two-song promo sampler in hand and the rest of their songs available for streaming via their website we were able to get the advance scoop. BHC seems to have gone to the Rage Against the Machine/Godsmack school of music... and learned their lessons well. I don't know what's pissing these guys off so badly, but what's got me tweaked is that I can play three power chords and scream too, and no labels are knocking my door down. Then again, it's always the guy in front of or behind me at 7-11 who wins the scratch-off lottery so maybe I've just got bad luck.

To their (dubious) credit, BHC does slow things down from time to time and even throws in some occasional melodies. Plus you've got to appreciate the lyrical poetry of titles like "As I Watch the Sun F*ck the Ocean."

If hopping in the mosh pit and beating the crap out of a bunch of teenage guys wearing baggy Abercrombie and Fitch gear is your idea of a good time, you'll definitely want to catch this show. For my buck, local boys SEV do this act a lot better.

Their drinking partners would be: Godsmack, Staind, White Zombie et al.

Rating: Two shots

 

Skrape
New Killer America
RCA

www.skrape.com

When I lived down in Dallas, I went to the opening of a new megaplex to check out Natural Born Killers. The sound system was cranked up loud enough to cause bleeding around the eardrums, and after about 20 minutes, most of the theater had emptied out to escape the aural assault. Thanks to my Koss-amplified computer speakers and Skrape's helpful hint--;"For maximum ear-spitting ferocity, jack up the volume"--;I can recreate that experience from the comfort of my desk--;and without dropping $7.50 for a ticket.

Heavy guitar, scream/shout vocals, depressing lyrics about loneliness, alienation and anger--;maybe my middle class, suburban upbringing just wasn't traumatic enough but I can't seem to feel these guys' pain. Of course they'll probably end up opening for Korn on a massive summer tour and rake in a zillion bucks, so what do I know.

Skrape states on their website: "It seems like a lot of today's harder edged bands are crying the blues, this 'everything sucks' thing. Screw that! Everybody's f*cked up. We say, 'Get up! Make a difference in your own life! Don't feel sorry for yourself. Do something about it." Guess I guess I was getting another beer during that part of the CD.

Their drinking partners would be: Korn, Slipknot, System of a Down

Rating: 99 (though if you listen to this for long enough you're likely to down a lot more than that)

 

Glenn French
Untitled
Unreleased

Click here to listen to "Hold Your Values"

Available via Napster and free at www.ontaponline.com

So there I am whoring some guy's MP3 collection on Napster the other day when up pops an instant message: "You've got good taste. Be sure to check out Glenn French." Since my normal modus operandi is to download anything I've never heard on the off chance it's something I might like, I immediately cued up a half dozen or so tracks. Good call. Turns out the message came from French himself but still a good call.

Glenn French is a singer/songwriter out of Fairfield, Connecticut who compares his music to CS&N. I'd say he's half right. On tunes like "When You Dream" and "Second Guessing", French showcases an excellent voice, James Taylor-esque acoustic guitar, and a rich, full sound that belies the garage studio setup where he lays down his tracks.

But songs like "She Moves Me, "Hold Your Values" and "Streamline Blues" call to mind the alt.folk sound of bands like Wilco and the Jayhawks or even Harvest Moon-era Neil Young; slightly dirty electric guitar, simple but catchy leads, and intelligent, heartfelt lyrics.

According to French, record industry types have told him that his music is "dated and there is no market for it." Record industry types also brought us N'Sync so I'm not putting a whole lot of stock in their opinions.

His drinking partners would be: The Jayhawks, Wilco, Neil Young, James Taylor

Rating: 9999

WE WANT YOUR OPINION: Download songs by Glenn French free at www.ontaponline.com and let us know what you think.

Various Artists

Walking on Pennsylvania Ave.

Open Source Music

www.opensource-music.com

When it comes to Trance, House, Drum & Bass and other forms of electronica, DC generally gets about as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield. Sure BT grew up in the area, but like most DC artists he relinquished residency the second success came calling. With Walking on Pennsylvania Ave., however, recently formed label/production company/music community Opensource-music.com offers compelling proof that the capital scene is as cutting edge as anything in New York, London or Paris.

Cleverly split into two discs-"Disc Silver: The Downbeat Sessions" and "Disc Orange: The Upbeat Sessions"-WOPA comprises 31 tracks from a "Who's Who" of the area's hottest acts. Contributors include Babyfat, RIA, Chaise Lounge, Glassoline, Tamaka, Deep Dish, Congregation and Slant among others.

The fruits of more than a year's worth of effort, WOPA starts off strong with Babyfat's "Walkin' Thru (Katya's Mix)" and never lets up. From the song picks to the production quality to the packaging, WOPA is simply a stellar effort. Much to their credit, Opensource has managed to impose a unifying sound and style on each of the band's contributions without subsuming their distinctive personalities. Tamaka's "Boy in Space" boasts a strong Latin flair with its Spanish lyrics, flamenco guitar intro and salsa beat, while Babyfat's re-mixed "Power of Song"--;a floating, ethereal song to begin with--;takes on a whole new life with a driving dance beat, multi-layered samples and synthesizers, and extended drumbeat interludes.

Self-described "firm believers in giving back to the community that influenced its creation," Opensource is making good on their claim by donating a substantial portion of the profits from WOPA to Metro TeenAIDS. You can purchase the CD online at amazon.com, kozomo.com (DC only), and yoshitosi.com. For a list of local retailers carrying the compilation visit www.opensource-music.com/index.cfm.

Their drinking partners would be: Sasha & Digweed, Paul Oakenfold, Groove Armada, Josh Wink

Rating: 99999 (great music, great cause-what more could you ask for?)