Klaatu Verata Niktu
Copping their title from the phrase that stops the huge robot Cort from destroying the world in The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forehead mount a full-frontal assault of their own with this satisfying eight-song recording. While two of the songs—”Slow Cooker,” and “Needles” appear on a previously re-leased single, their presence in this context changes immensely the feel of the tunes.
“Slow Cooker” burns with seething intensity, a cathartic stew. Big chunks of guitar maintain the motivation, while the drums and bass simmer in counter- point. The vocals connote a sense of desperation and unrelenting pressure: and a mutant guitar solo skews the ﬂavor with spicy enhancement.
“Confused” mills around acoustically for about eight bars. before lumbering into a bad trip metal dinosaur funk. The band display keen dynamic strength, laying back to a sinewy riff in some sections of the cut, lurching to a snarling roar in others.
Similar powers are found in “Head to Tail”, a fast moving train: destination oblivion. The vocals take the forefront here, contorted walls crammed through a pinhole, into the void. Thick as tar and twice as dark, “Microconcussion” oozes a cheerless pool—stretched by an elastic bass run—narrated with numb dejection and abject hopelessness.
The aptly named “Swarm” drones menacingly, before attacking with stinging precision the swollen body of the piece. A vicious struggle ensues. The stuttering rhythm of “Creeping Life” with accents on the first, fifth and eighth beats, recalls Rush, although the sentiment expressed here is more clearly aligned with the anomie of a succeeding generation of musicians. Perhaps the most sumptuous part of the recording follows— a magical excursion in 12/8 that soars and swoops like an UFO, before resolving into the original syncopated 4/ 4 rhythm. A virtuosic performance to be sure.
“Needles” summons recognition of snippets of the Stones’ “Last Time,” the Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville,” and Guess Who’s “American Woman;” while remaining true to Foreheads’ Metal roots with a searing guitar jam over a doomy bass foundation. A powerful song. The suicidal lethargy of “Catastrophies” seems tuned into a Cobainian mindset where the nobility of despair outweighs even the ballast of life itself: the biggest overdose of all. A prolonged interlude of disquieting majesty spirals into the final verse; and finally a fading heartbeat of a rhythm and the repetitive arpeggiation of a guitar figure underscore the hypnotic spiral of torment that can lead an individual to vanquish the light of his being.
Forehead do not paint a very pretty picture of life. But their portrait is rich with hard contrasts and deep emotions. While the sentiments they espouse can be wearying at best, the means by which they express them are to be admired for their honesty and persistence of vision.
Grinning Idiot Records
While their assessment may be endearingly harsh and brutally frank, it’s also horribly inaccurate. For, Kpants are not without their own curious charm—one that is rather accessible and almost downright amiable.
And it’s obvious right from the first rollicking chords of “Light Sprinkle,” a Dandoesque sprint of a tune, that all the various elements which comprise a vi- able alternative Pop band are in place with the Kpants. “Bookworm” offers its’ own view into the world of Kpants with the telling couplet, “I’ll just wait for you to talk to me/ ‘Cause I don’t have the balls,” while maintaining a pop stance that echoes of Material Issue, Elvis Costello, early U-2, Dinosaur Jr. and Lemonheads. Similarly, “Forehead” pulsates with vibrancy—riveted to a chiming guitar line and propelled by a hard-hitting kick-drum pattern.
Yer oddball cut of the bunch would be the Kpants‘ strange take on the Country ballad “She’s Got You;” the gender extrapolated confusion of which will be left to the reader to ponder. “Sonic Ripoff” exposes a tougher side of the band, with an arrangement that hinges on a twangy guitar figure and a ballsy bass riff. The mood is extended by energetic ensemble work on the instrumental “Lunchpale”
“Pie Song” is a raucous party of a song, full of punchy accents and an indomitable mayhemic profusion of sarcastic mirth. But, for a true indication of the real charm Kpants possess, check out the pristine power of “Stare Off,” a fabulous succession of stellar licks and masterful instrumental interplay. A despondently detached vocal plays against the frenetic agitation of a guitar bursting with ideas, to create a mood of beautifully sustained confusion.
The band takes a more subdued approach on “Should We Cut lt?,” building slowly on a somewhat conventional chord progression. A pretty, ringingly rousing, guitar solo supports the sagging spirits of the vocal, as arms outstretched to catch a falling life. “Best Kissers” returns to the former vigor of earlier cuts, exhibiting more of that quixotic Kpantsian charm: worn, forlorn and world-weary, yet informed with enough humor and insight so as not to be completely depressing.
In fact, Kpants are usually pretty inventive and entertaining . As a band, they offer perversely joyous cynicality as a virtue against the vices of the modern world with which they contend. Harmless, perhaps. Maybe armless or farmless or theft-alarmless. But they’re certainly not charmless.
Here’s another in the ever-growing list of fine, funky horn bands to sprout in the fertile tillage of the local scene. Spoon delivers stalwart musicianship as a trade off against occasional vocal shortcomings.
Drawing from inﬂuences as diverse as Sly & the Family Stone, the Beatles, and even, occasionally, Pink Floyd; Spoon create an unique sound that blends those elements in a subtle way. “Only Seven Buttons” features the solid horn work of Robert Crowell, Dan Goldstein and Steve Sundholm and some hot licks from guitarist Rick Bain— but fails vocally.
Bassist Andrew Freitas and drummer Brent DeBoer propel “Crazy,” with a funky snap, crackle and pop. The horns act as punchy punctuation to the slippery syllables of the vocal rap of the verses. A strong chorus invites those comparisons to Sly meeting the Beatles. with maybe Jimi sitting in at the turn-arounds. Crowell contributes a sensual sax solo in the middle before the band brings the tune in for a landing. The Beatles are a point of departure on “Climb That Mountain,” a catchy and soulful foray into the Pop genre. The ensemble rock seriously though the breaks on this number.
But it’s James Brownian funk that drives the monster riffs of “Recollection Part 5.” The guitar line follows the vocals in the verses while the horns dance in happy counterpoint, until all come together in a brawl at the turns. A riotously rocking breakdown in the middle gives some indication of what Spoon must sound like live; Bain fiercely interjects a scorching guitar solo, while the horn section tumbles in unbridled profusion.
Spoon can lock horns with any Funk unit in this town and at least come out with a draw. If they could improve, some- what, the level of their songwriting, and improve the quality of the vocal presentation, there is every reason to believe that they will become a local Funk force with which to be reckoned.
Glowing Corn EP
There’s a lot to like about this Eugene-based trio, not the least of which are the clever and well executed graphics that appear on their posters and on the cover of this limited edition yellow vinyl EP.
“Plaid” is placid and dreamy, at first, filled with smudged, slurred guitars and ethereal atmospherics; before awakening on the choruses. The vocal seems somewhat remote, as if sung through a dense black cloud. Though more upbeat, the mood is retained on “Wish Eye.” A cool backwards guitar solo enters at the break and sustains through the third verse—odd vocals, two voices sung
an octave apart, lend the cut a certain quirky affability.
“Mogadishu” utilizes a highly syncopated drum pattern to drive the most successful tune on this outing. A mystical segment acts as a buffer between the straight ahead onslaught of the verses and the more familiar strains of the chorus.
Glowing Corn prove themselves to be competitive among a vanguard of new bands washing into the local scene. If the band should choose to focus on making the vocals more of a priority, refining and improving their delivery; and if the band can tighten their ensemble presentation, making every measure count, then their future would seem pretty bright.
Headless Friends EP
Stylistically, the Dutchboys are all over the atlas, but they render their music with such good humor and elan as to make of this three song EP a veritable musical smorgasbord for the ears. Producer Brooks Brown (of the Cherry Poppin‘ Daddies) neatly captures the essence of this captivatingly esoteric outfit.
From the first Bach-like organ strains of the intro, to the frenzied swing of the verses of “Urge to Pinch.” it’s obvious that Dutchboy Fingers are not yer typical 90’s rock band. Check out the rolling Farfisa that skas and skates out ahead of the rest of the band. Or check out the Zep meets the Specials extravaganza of the chorus. Think of the Daddies without the horn section. And somewhere underneath it all seems to be the Beatles’ ‘’I Want You,’ and the essence of a weird 80’s band from Minneapolis called the Wallets. Who knew? Strong vocals, capable harmonies and clever musical departures along the way, metamorphose the cut into a true tour de force.
“Goodnight Little Rabbit’ heads off into a different direction altogether. Kicking off with a churning, thumb-plucking bass line and startling samples of a woman uttering odd phrases (“there’s an apple tree in the backyard…’) in an ominous monotone; the vocals enter in tight harmony atop a tightly skittering, 32nd beat-hammering rhythm section. Again, strange journeys down odd musical alleyways ensue: resolving with a weird soliloquy, ending upon an hopeless sigh.
The boys obviously broke out their Thesaurus for ‘My Padded Planet,” with the obfuscating, confabulating of “The eyes. I saw them/ penetrating, mutilating. Self-degrading eyes.” Despite these occasional lapses into sophomoria, Dutchboy Fingers give every indication of having the essential tools to do what they choose as a band, while such luxuries can some- times lead to the excesses described on the final tune, the band hit far more often than they miss, and are worthy of closer inspection.
Duct Tape is Better
Food For Max Music
One look at the cover of this 18 song opus and one can be relatively certain that the ride will be down the highway not usually accessed by the minions. Dig that faded Ronnie Reagan wallpaper! And talk about hanging around the house—it’s a dog’s life indeed.
What you get is a raw three-piece carving out songs that seem simple on the exterior, but that become more twisted the closer that one inspects the lyrics. On the surface, ‘Beverly’ is simply a song about a young man pursuing a reluctant lass. But just beneath that veneer is a song that speaks straight to the sexual confusion that has become vogue in the 90’s: “Beverly, tryin’ to get you/ Beverly, baby don’t you see/ Beverly, want to convert you/ Won’t you be straight with me.” The lads probably go a bit over the top on the final spoken verse, for their point is made without that.
Likewise. “Country Song” overstates the obvious in a rather humorous way, though I like the clinking of beer bottles and the farm animal noises in the middle. And “Gerbils “ doesn’t exactly disguise its‘ sentiments either (Yes, you guessed right). But it’s still kind of funny, asking the musical question “Whataya do when yer done with ‘em?’ And punctuating it with a perfect champagne cork pop. Wow!
“Coffee Song” percolates along recalling aspects of the B-S2’s, if they were to jam with, say, the Clash. And “Eric” registers somewhere between Paul McCartney and Frank Zappa. “Bed of Roses” barely registers at all. Ditto “When I Was Young.” But “Acid in Accounting Class” works on a Dead Milkmen level, sarcasm being the driving force.
And “Masturbate” would have to be the last word on the subject, with the clever chorus: “Little girls and boys/ Got their built in toys/Mama, mama masturbate.” As a friend observed, this cut is deﬁnitely one for Dr. Demento to hear. That’ll do it. Right in there with the Fugs’ “Boobs Alot.” “Pup Tent” elaborates further on one aspect of the previous deliberations, leading me to believe that these guys would do well on a bill with BHB (“Cock in My Hand”). On the other hand, so to speak, is “Judy’s V.” a jaunty little ditty about a girl and her vibrator, “all she needs is AAA batteries.”
“Nancy & Me” details one of the more unfortunate aspects of dating in the 90’s: to end up smoking crack with a woman, only to find out that her husband, the ex-president is on his way home. What a drag! And speaking of drag, “Daphne” covers turf last traversed on the Kinks’ “Lola.” Current local events dominate the backdrop to “I Don’t Care,” a loopy love song of the third kind. “Train Station” is loopily lame.
But Pup Tent save the best for last with “Lucy,” a taut and well wrought piece of rockudrama; which doesn’t exactly fit, contextually, with the rest of their “work,” but leads one to wonder what this band could achieve it they were of a mind to do so. As if to assuage any such grandiose notions, they conclude with the public service message “Wash Your Hands.”
Though they are as sloppy as they are sophomoricaliy amusing. Pup Tent manage to be entertaining most of the time. By extracting the five or six songs that don’t fit the motif here the band would have assembled one of the most subject-dedicated recordings to emerge since the naughty novelty records of the Redd Foxx of the 60’s.