"Lonely People of the World, Unite!"
Available at All That Jazz for $14.98
There was something about his ridiculous and boyish face on the back cover looking not the least bit rock 'n' roll that attracted me to this album. It was just a smirking picture of the singer looking off into the distance, showing off a perfect bowl haircut. It seemed to promise something, but I wasn't sure what.
The album packaging was designed to look like one of those way-too-wordy backs of old jazz LPs. But you can stare at the album cover for only so long. Eventually you have to listen to the contents.
Someone told me this week that nerds are always nice to each other, and because I'm feeling especially nerdy today, I will be nice to Devin. This is 100 percent nerdy art school rock, complete with funny lyrics, inside jokes and garage-band backup.
A good example of Devin Davis is "Paratrooper with Amnesia" where some Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano and fuzzed guitar gets you dancing to his well-written love song. He sings, "You see my legs look like/two lampposts in an earthquake/whenever I get within a few feet from you,/and I'm like a paratrooper with amnesia/falling like an anchor through the sky ... it's so hard to get my hand around the ripcord."
Oh. And he plays the theremin. Did I mention that I get weak-kneed around men who play the theremin?
In "Giants Spiders," a whining theremin supports his voice as he sings, "No I won't sit down until I'm upside down/in the back of your eyes."
Listening to this album reminded me of a painting I saw once. The background was solid yellow and on it was a simple drawing of a necktie. That was it. And I looked at it and thought, "yes, ties are beautiful, aren't they?"
Rated: Someone please talk to the shy boy in the corner. I think he could be interesting.
"The Red, White & Black"
Available at All That Jazz for $17.98
The BellRays are led by the Aretha Franklin of punk rock, Lisa Kekaula. She pours her heart out through a powerful voice. She sneers and screams like a rock diva and cries, "what do you want for nothin'" with the sad soul of all those women who still haunt us from mid-century Harlem jazz clubs.
Released on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label, "The Red, White & Black" brings a Billie Holiday vibe to the Black Flag crowd.
If R&B were a little angrier, a little more aggressive, it would be The BellRays.
Kekaula's voice is one of the best to grace rock 'n' roll in a long time. Although she has been with The BellRays since the 1990s, her recent recognition from music snobbies has come from her guest vocals on Basement Jaxx's album, "Kish Kash."
She makes the growing collection of punk divas sound like squeaky adolescent choirgirls. Bow in the presence of your next CD purchase.
-- Autumn Phillips