The Column Punk Broke: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 76
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.
Brain Cave - Brain Cave - Tiny God Inc. - 3 songs - cassette, download
So, the guitarist and vocalist (though all three members are credited as vocalists, more on that in a minute) of Brain Cave is Michael Bellis, a name some readers may remember from my beloved Roobydocks (and Bulsch, who are also good). In the note I received with this tape, I was told that this band does not sound like either of those bands, and I have to say I agree. I actually thought that this was gonna be some kinda powerviolence type thing because I know other members of The Roobydocks are into that, but it's not that either. I would put this firmly in the "alternative rock" camp, which is not what I expected at all. Some elements of post-hardcore, some elements of emo, the intro to the last song had me thinking they might be doing some kind of shoegaze thing…I think that last one, "Evacuate," might be my favorite of the three, it kinda sounds like it has the most going on. I'm not sure who's actually singing here, as all three members are credited with vocals (the other two are Matthew Ducey, who also plays drums, and Josh Snyder, who also plays bass), and yet, to me, it sounds like the same vocalist on all three tracks. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention to that, or maybe they all just sound very similar. Or maybe they put that in specifically to mess with me. Who can say? To be honest, this isn't exactly my preferred genre, but it's decent stuff and I like to see when members of a band that sounds a certain way have other bands that sound completely different (aren't John and Zach Roobydock doing a new wave band these days?). Some good riffs in there, the one from "Extra Earth" really wiggled its way into my head. Cool art, too. 3/5
Fat Vegan/Splat - Fat Vegan/Splat - self-released - 8 songs (5 Fat Vegan, 3 Splat) - cassette
Nothing quite like a split tape of two basically defunct bands! Fat Vegan have the three parts of "Meat Test," which are all pretty ridiculous: some heavy metal riffin' with lyrics about how you're a poser because you don't eat quite enough meat. The "ok, Richie, show 'em what you got" at the end is funny all three times for some reason. If you look at the tape itself, it says "Meat Test - You Fail" on it, which really is no surprise. Separating these three is "Clayton Jr," a recording of some white trash Maury/Springer-esque dramatic phone call, and "Meat Treats," which, this may shock you, is also pretty ridiculous. A decent continuation of their earlier tape. Recommended for people who really like the song "Vegetarians Are Wimps." Now, the Splat side. These three tracks, as I understand, were originally supposed to be on a split 7" with Mr. California, which seems unlikely at this point (I still have my fingers crossed). The first track here, "Burning Brains," is incredible from the "can you shut the fuck up" intro on. This song is basically an instant classic in my book. Great bassline, great drumming, great guitar leads. Absolutely killer punk, just listen to this: "driving real fast 'cause I wanna die, so listen up girl, let's go for a ride." Phenomenal stuff. "Small Town Pimp" is a dumb 30-second (maybe not quite even that long) burner that somehow manages to be really catchy. The final track here, "Outerspace," is another good punk tune (not quite as great as "Burning Brains," but pretty darn good), with a riff that later got recycled for Bad Noids' "Into The Future." These three tracks really are great. It's really a shame that they'll likely never have a standalone 7" release of their own. I hope, in the future, that these songs (and Splat's 7" on Saucepan) are remembered for the great punk music that they are and not just as "feat. members of Bad Noids and Fat Vegan." I hate the cover art, but apparently that's the bands' favorite part, so what do I know. 4/5
(this was some kind of party favor release, but try bugging the bands for a copy or try a local record store)
Outer Spacist - Illness Is A-Creepin' On A Come-Up - Heel Turn Records - 14 songs - LP
A selection of garage/psych straight outta Columbus…or maybe straight outta space. Decent stuff, has a bit of the "Columbus/midwestern" feel, whatever that means. Outer Spacist has the typical guitar/bass/drums with a synth and an additional acoustic guitar on several songs. What they've really got going for them is their singer, who, according to the cover, is named Captain D'Artagnon Jones Kletting Salt (The Outer Spacist). This guy (or otherworldly being) has got a pretty distinctive style; I was trying to figure out what it reminds me of and I could not quite place it. It's pretty out there though, in a good way. I struggled to think of exactly what this band was reminding me of, going through some strange reaches like "somewhere on the nonexistent spectrum between Great Plains and Lost Sounds, with some added MC5 proto punk attitude," and then towards the end of Side A, I realized that what it really reminds me of is Timmy's Organism. Several of these songs would not sound out of place on "Eating Colors." I'm not saying that "oh, these guys must listen to a lot of Human Eye," just that they're probably coming from the same kind of influences. Very different brands of weirdness, however! Around the same time I made the Timmy Vulgar connection, I noticed the narrative off to the side of the lyric sheet, which reveals that, if I'm understanding this correctly, this is some kind of strange concept album about outer space, Mormonism, and pavilions. Huh. I looked it up and this band's been around a while, with a few releases on the late Columbus Discount label from 8 or 9 years ago, and I'm wondering how deep this goes. Do these other records reveal more of the Outer Spacist truth? I'm sure they do. I don't know whether Side B is better or just where things started to really click for me, but it's a good side. I like when they do the more minor chord-based songs with the acoustic in there, like "To Cross A Frozen River, Baby" (or, per the lyric sheet, "To Cross A Frozen River, Alright, Baby"). I like their approach to song titles as well: the title track also adds a "baby" onto the end of the phrase, as well as the earlier song "Outer Space Is Not For Everyone, Baby." The more rockin' "Outer Space Is The Place To Be" into the slower "Ohio Is The Other Place To Be" might be my favorite moment of the record. I always like a good ode to Ohio, even one imbued with Mormonism and whatever else is going on here. The closing track, the fourth of several short synth instrumentals on the record, is called "Carnival Of Souls Telepathic Transmission," and if the fact that Pere Ubu had an album called "Carnival Of Souls" has you wanting to make an Ubu connection, you can go right ahead, baby. 3.5/5
Red Devil Ryders - Live In Columbus, OH - Quality Time Records - 7 songs - cassette
First note: I'm pretty sure this was self-released by the band, but since the QT logo is on there and this is all QT-affiliated people, I figured I might as well put it down. Red Devil Ryders is the full band version of Carter Luckfield's "Crowley 666" tape, featuring Carter on guitar and vocals, Adam Spektor on bass, and Marty Brass on drums, three names that should be very familiar to regular readers of this column. This tape does indeed feature many of the songs from the aforementioned tape and a few new ones as well. If you read the "Crowley 666" review, you may remember that I agonized over how to do it justice with my description. I think I've got it nailed down a little better now. At its core, it's rock 'n' roll. Not "rock" the blanket genre, I mean, rock 'n' roll. Beyond that, it's in the sort of mid-late '70s middle ground that has some country rock elements and also a lot of power pop elements. Certain tracks ("2/3," "Buy Me A Drink," "Crowley") are totally Dave Edmunds inspired, and a certain lyric in "Crowley" straight up rips off– I mean pays tribute to Brinsley Schwarz. There's a Thin Lizzy cover on here too ("She Knows") that they play well and is a good choice for this band to cover. The band brings a little bit more oomph to these songs, as a band as opposed to one person generally does. Adam's got some spicy basslines going on (and I really respect his willingness to commit to a bit– he took a shot of hot sauce onstage before playing last time I saw them, then offered it to the other members, who declined) ("spicy," because the whole hot sauce thing). I generally don't like stand up drums (Gibson Bros. notwithstanding), but Marty makes it work, because of course he's good at that too. I really respect Carter's ability as a guitarist (that solo on "Crowley" is no joke) and that he can play these leads and sing at the same time. Of course, when I see these three people onstage, I kinda wanna see them all playing guitar, but this is good too. This particular live recording is pretty decent, raw enough but not too muddy. Something's up with the vocals…I mean, a lot of live records have things changed between performance and release…I mean…I'm not sayin' nothin'! Let's move on. I eagerly await more from this band, as they're quite alright in my book already. 4/5
(I think you'll have to catch the band live to get a copy of this one)
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.