March 3, 2005
“Very, very powerful motor”
In the used bin at All That Jazz for $6.99
It’s always a risk choosing a band because it is named after your favorite car, but is succumbing to target marketing any less so?
I found this album in the used bin at the record store and chose it first for the reference to the Volkswagen Fastback.
I owned one at about the time that this album came out — 1990. Those were the days when there was a “sound” in Seattle, and when I didn’t mind driving a car that didn’t have a heating system and whose positive battery terminal had to be unplugged when the car was parked.
A very different time. A very different sound.
The Fastbacks are a punk band unafraid to crack a smile or solo. (I think they call it pop punk.)
What makes this album worth listening to is Kurt Bloch’s guitar playing. With Bloch, every song is different. Every song I thought, “I don’t know where he’s going with this, but I like it.”
Rated: One of the best albums of its era. Worth the $7 to bring it out again.
In the used bin at All That Jazz for $4.99
This album brings immediate attention to its own editing. Whoever produced this thing had a heavy hand. I can see the computer screen displaying all the tracks. Maybe three people can really make this much noise, but somehow, I doubt it.
But if it weren’t for the production, there would be a very thin wall between this band that calls itself “alternative” and Bryan Adams.
Its members have the tattoos and the hair gel, but there’s something missing in the attitude in this boy band. Radio listeners will recognize “Here’s to the Night.”
It’s warm milk poured out to be played in movie soundtracks, Honda Element commercials and on the middle of the radio dial. The only thing truly cool about this album is the cover — Japanimation/video-game style drawings by Randy Green (designer of Lara Croft).
Rated: For those who can’t chew.
“War all the Time”
Available at All That Jazz for $16.98
The singer of this band has been marketed as “a young Robert Smith,” an endorsement that asks him to fill some strangely fitting shoes. This album is mostly screaming — of the social anxiety variety. And although lead singer Geoff Rickly gasps a lot like Smith does, I don’t think there’s much of a comparison.
Thursday’s lyrics are full of cliche religious references and physical mutilation that sound like some record company’s idea of an angst-ridden youth but plays like an adolescent reading from a notebook at an open mic night. Or, even worse, like musicians reading note cards.
Anger has been so played out in music during the past couple of decades that it’s a hard emotion to make us believe anymore, and I’m not buying it this time.
Rated: Hey, guys. Wait up. I sound like Robert Smith.
— Autumn Phillips