Please Don't Do That To Me Again: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 68
Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to pick out what you like (or dislike) 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.
Cross Brothers - Living On Sheepheads - Just Because Records - 10 songs - LP, download
On one hand, I wasn't sure about this because I've never been a huge Coffinberry fan (that's where the Cross brothers themselves are from, you see), but on the other hand, Scott Pickering did the cover art, so there's something immediately worthwhile about it right there. It's not bad stuff. It's indie rock, as meaningless as that genre name is. About half-and-half 2000s indie and 90s indie, with a little bit of 80s indie in there and maybe even some 70s stuff too. What am I even talking about? Writing that sentence made all other thoughts fall apart. The tunes are well-written and well-performed. There's decent harmonies throughout and some pretty good guitar playing in several places (certain George Harrison-esque parts on "Singing Machine"; the guitar interplay on the solo of "Until"). I'm not a huge fan of the vocals, but oh well. I think my general opinion here is that I'm a fan of the songs, but not so much the style. It's a bit too…I don't know. It's not at all that the songs lack energy, because they don't, it's that they don't have the type of energy I want them to have. Does that make any sense at all? I have no idea. "In Transit," "Hard Earned Trap," "Where The Water's Fine," and "Back From The Dead" come the closest to what I'd prefer, but what can ya do. Probably something I'd like more live, I'd guess. I also wish "No White Mystery" was a diss track about the band White Mystery, though I think that's highly unlikely to be the case. Oh well. Final verdict: enough good songs to make it worth your while if this sounds like your kind of thing. 3/5
Street Gurgler - Live On WRUW - Adamant Blasts / Pete Smokes Weed Tapes - 9 songs - cassette, download
A friend and I saw Street Gurgler open for Cloud Nothings and he said afterwards, "it's really funny how that band is so tight but the singer is so bad," then maybe 10 minutes later was saying, "actually, I think those vocals were perfect for the band." It's true that at times Meggie's vocals do bring to mind an especially chipper 11 year old, maybe at the expense of something like "proper key." However, I'd make the case that that's a strength rather than a weakness. Besides Meggie Mohawk (also in Brainwashed California), Street Gurgler is a guy from Rubber Mate (the guy who sings, though he plays guitar here), a guy from Splat (the guy who plays drums, who also plays drums here), Mr. California, and a bass player who I don't recognize. Musically, it's a pleasing punk/psych/hard rock mix. I think I saw someone describe them as "Blue Öyster Cult with an Android" (Mr. C plays synth on his phone), and while that's oversimplifying it, it's not a bad place to start. The same friend from before would (and probably has) describe these songs as "rippers." Serious wah-wah guitar, serious riffage, serious rock action all around. To go back to the 11 year old thing from before, that carries through to the lyrics as well: songs about leaving your lunch at home, a song called "Happy Bunny," a song that provides instructions on how to boil eggs (it's called "How To Boil Eggs")…it almost comes as a shock when there's a F-bomb in "Paper 'n' Pen." I don't mean to paint it as "cutesy" or anything, it's just kinda how it is. I think the best moment on the tape is the one-two punch of "Gross" and "Reality Land," though other listeners may disagree. As much as I like this tape, it's really not the same as seeing the band live. In a way, because it is recorded live, it's more unsatisfying than just a studio recording, since you're almost hearing them in a live setting, but not. Also, a lot of the "Live From Cleveland" broadcasts sound better over the radio than they do listened to out of context, and this is no exception. All that said, still a rocker of a release. Will 2018 be the year of Street Gurgler? 3.5/5
(streetgurgler.bandcamp.com to download, catch the band for a tape)
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.