Abobobobobomination: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 61
Obligatory Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to, like, pick out what you like about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much.
Ricky Hamilton featuring The Voidboys - Hell Is Real - Quality Time Records - 9 songs - cassette, download
This is the third "solo" release from Ricky Hamilton of [insert band here] fame. I say "solo" in quotes because, as with the previous tape ("Killed By Ricky"), he's backed by Fascinating bandmates Adam Spektor (clarinet, this time around heavily processed) and Carter Luckfield (bass, this time around normal) and occasionally The Sight bandmate Noah Depew (guitar, shreds). Hold on, Spektor and Carter are in The Sight, too. I'm not sure how to work all these sentences out to be good. You know what I mean. I'd thought Ricky's solo work was his one man punk thing that the kids are into these days, but someone told me that the solo stuff is for Ricky's "pop" output. That can't be right, I thought that was what Fascinating was for. Anyway. I gotta say, this tape doesn't get off to a great start. "The Valium" and "All 6's," while perfectly acceptable songs, are just kind of okay. Things pick up with "The Feeling Is Alright," though I wish he was using live drums on these instead of the drum machine, especially since I know that Ricky's a pretty good drummer. I also wish he would be a little more enthusiastic, I guess is the word, with the vocals. I was hoping for something more like "666" on "Killed By Ricky," where he really goes for it, but not here. "Friday Eyes" is the first song on this tape that I would absolutely say I fully enjoy. It's a good, uptempo rock 'n' roller, it has nice harmonies on the chorus, and I think Noah arrives for the first time to add some lead. Moving onto the B side, "8 Days In Hell" keeps up the momentum (not speed-wise, but…ah, you know what I'm getting at). Again, the harmonies and the lead guitar (Noah does his best J Mascis here) keep it moving and it ends up a good song. Ricky chose "Killing Season On Earth" as the single for this record, which I don't quite get, but I assume that means he thinks it's a good one. It is, but…look, I gotta say, some of these songs get kinda samey, especially considering they're mostly the same tempo and with very similar arrangements. With the exception of the songs with the extra lead guitar, it's all very midrangey. Ricky did warn me that I was being given a hand-dubbed tape and the consumer version is gonna sound better, so hopefully that issue doesn't persist. We close this tape out with "You Look Like A Cop." I think I get what he was going for here (some kind of noisy punk thing), but it kind of ends up as a mess. Perhaps that was intentional. Is there actually a voice in the background saying "Satan" or am I hearing things? I do like the fake echo where he just goes "cop cop cop cop." That's entertaining. Also, the Jesus & Mary Chain interview clip at the end is a nice touch. At least I assume it's the Jesus & Mary Chain, as the guy speaking is very Scottish and very confrontational. I don't know what to make of this. There are good songs on here (and a couple really good songs on here), but it's not as consistent or listenable as "Killed By Ricky" or "Life By The Thorns." I know Ricky's got a lot of songs in him and I know and appreciate how much work he puts into this, but nobody will be offended or upset if he takes it easy for a minute or two. 3.9/5
Knowso - Look At The Chart - Neck Chop Records - 6 songs - 12"
This is maybe my most anticipated release of the year (second only to maybe that Perverts Again LP that now isn't gonna be out 'til next year…). I wasn't disappointed. This is most of Cruelster / Perverts Again (3 out of 4) with Jayson from Magic City and some other band…Cloud something? on drums. Velocity-wise (that's speed and direction– learned that in 9th grade science), it's somewhere in between Cruelster and Perverts Again. 6 songs here, single-sided 12". I think they're all good, actually. "Me & My Friends' Town" (which was originally called "Seeing You Around," as all four of you that own the demo tape might remember) starts things off on a high note. "I keep seeing you around– why? This is my town." That's good stuff. The double vocal thing (I'm pretty sure Nathan is the low voice and Michael is the high voice, but who knows) really goes all over the place during "Human Like Me," with high voice really having an interesting delivery on some of those lines. Then there's "White Science," which is about animal rights or something. "No Patience" is a killer punk tune of the highest order, I'm telling you. If you're not singing along to this by the end of it, I don't know what to tell you. I guess the quickest, dumbest comparison would be Smooth Brain. Yes, I'm comparing a band with Nathan Ward on bass and vocals and Mike Gill on guitar to another band with Nathan Ward on bass and vocals and Mike Gill and guitar. "Look At The Chart" closes the record out. Something about it sorta makes me think of Urochromes for some reason. Don't know why. I do wish this record came with a lyric sheet. Nathan's probably so sick of hearing that almost every time I review one of his bands, but oh well. I quite like the count-off towards the end of "1-2-3-4-5-5-5-5!" and then the song speeding up. Good stuff, as you'd expect from this group of people. Between this and that Citric Dummies record, I've really increased the number of full-color Nathan Ward artworks that I own. 4.5/5
Carter Luckfield - Crowley 666 - Quality Time Records - 6 songs - cassette, download
I didn't quite know what to expect of a Carter Luckfield solo album. Carter, for those who don't follow this column or the local music scene, is a member of a large number of the bands on the Quality Time roster. This does not sound like any of those bands. This is five tracks of some actually very good…I don't quite know what to call it. Folk rock? Country rock? It kinda goes multiple places. Mostly acoustic based, harmonica appears on a couple of the tunes, I kinda wanna say Neil Young but I kinda don't, ya know what I mean? I can't decide if it's more John Lennon or more George Harrison. Whatever you wanna call it, I kinda really like it. "Crowley" is a great start to the album (I guess it's supposed to be a "concept album" of sorts about getting stranded in 100-degree heat in Crowley, Louisiana when Fascinating's van broke down on their latest tour) and that guitar solo at the end is good. Like, really good. "Silver Dollar" and "2/3" continue the trend. This is really reminding me of someone specific that I just cannot place. Check back with me in a week, I'll have remembered by then. It's classic rock-influenced, but like the good kind of classic rock. The stuff that's classic for good reason. "Stray Dog" is a good sad country ballad about finding your woman's run off with another man. Great weepy harmonica solo on there. There's a bit of more garage-rockin' guitar that cuts in and cuts out right before the last song of Side A that I kinda wanted to hear more of, but oh well. "End Of The World" switches to the electric guitar but genre-wise is along the same line as the rest of the tape. Man, I really wish I could think of what I'm trying to think of, you'd know immediately what I'm trying to get at? The Band? No, I don't think that's quite it. Not quite Dylan either. A little bit CCR maybe? Whatever it is, this is good stuff. Side B, "666," seems to be the entire tape but backwards (just like Sockeye used to do!). It's pretty lo-fi, but I think that adds to it. It feels more…I don't know, intimate I guess? My biggest complaint here is whatever effect that is on the vocals. In my opinion, they'd sound better just clean, but whatever. I think this is my favorite Quality Time release in a while. That's not to say that I don't like most of what Quality Time puts out, as I do, but this is just really good. 66 copies. 4.5/5
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.