Gotta Gotta: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 78
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.
Bernie & The Invisibles - All Possibilities Are Open - My Mind's Eye - 15 songs - LP
I don't know about anyone else, but I've been waiting for a Bernie & The Invisibles LP for a long time. So far, all that's been available is live versions of "In New York" and "Eventually" from the Cleveland Confidential comps, "I Don't Know Where I Am" from Pie & Ears Vol. 2, and this record's very version of "Chinese Church" that's floated around online for a while. This satisfies that need. The original concept for the group was that it was Bernie onstage, and the reason that there didn't appear to be anyone else in the band is because they were invisible, hence the name. This eventually developed into a real band with visible people in it, which is the lineup that appears on most of this record. So what of the music? Well, it's great. It's basically the definition of dumb punk, except that perhaps "simple" is a better word, because this sure isn't dumb. Bernie's lyrics are clearly pretty intelligent and thoughtful, and most of the time pretty funny, too. Every song on here (with the possible exception of "In Hell," which is kind of a spoken word experimental-ish thing) is really catchy and many of them are downright anthemic. "I Want To Be Invisible?" Great. "I Don't Know What To Say?" Great. "Let's Leave Tonight?" Great. The songs from Cleveland Confidential are much more clear on these recordings as well, so that's a bonus. Bernie is backed on most of this record by the late Peter Ball, who really provides the perfect accompaniment. I can't really figure out his drumming style, but I know I like it, and he even adds backing vocals to some of these songs. I have a hard time picking a favorite here. Sometimes it's "Sad World," sometimes it's "Away I Go," sometimes it's "Spirit Ascending…" It really could be any of these. The closest comparison just in terms of sloppy, but catchy and really charming would probably be the Urinals, if saying that makes a difference to anyone reading this. The art looks great (because Bernie is quite an interesting visual artist as well), and the insert includes not only heartfelt liner notes from the late Mike Hudson, who basically says he's Bernie's biggest fan, but also some of Bernie's poems and an interview taken from various fanzines, all of which is pretty good reading as well. Especially the interview, where Bernie lays out what it's all about: "happiness, excitement, wisdom, simplicity, thought, non-thinking, invisibility, you name it." And that's pretty much what you're getting with this record. My only problem here is the ever-present tape hiss, but at the same time I've heard earlier versions of some of these recordings (like the aforementioned "Chinese Church") and it really has been cleaned up a lot. And besides, there are very few records that have the heart that this one does. It could almost bring a tear to your eye to hear how much spirit there is in this music. The LP ends on an uplifting note with "We'll Still Live," which ends with "and we'll live, and we'll live forever." And I hope this music does. This is a special record. 4.8/5
The Jetboys - I Don't Want To - Rerun Records - 2 songs - 7"
This is one of those records on New Age that kinda seems like a mystery. I mean, you've got stuff that's obviously like Columbus giants, bands featuring guys like Ron House, Mike Rep, Jim Shepard, etc. I mean, there's Screaming Urge and that doesn't have any of those guys, but also it's Screaming Urge. KBD punk and all that. Self-explanatory. Besides those, there's those two Human Sufferage records (though one of those guys was apparently in both Sluggo and Swearing At Motorists, which…is not what I expected to find out, but also not really that helpful in terms of the "connection to Ego Summit" thing) and this, The Jetboys. Kinda like how it's strange that there's those two aforementioned hardcore records on this label, it's weird that there's this random power pop record featuring guys with no recognizable names. Thankfully, the insert included in this reissue helps to explain this: apparently, the band paid for it themselves and New Age distributed it for them, which I guess makes this band The Lepers of Columbus. "I Don't Want To" is pretty great early '80s power pop with a bit of a punk edge due to the mega-distorted second guitar. It's a song about a girl, there are backing oohs and ahhs, it's super catchy…all you want out of a power pop tune. And when it hits the bridge it just adds another great layer. That's a hard act to follow, especially when the flip side is called "Get The Kids Jumpin'." However, The Jetboys pull off another peppy, poppy tune, and the distorted guitar sounds like it's kinda going nuts all by itself in its place in the mix, then comes up for a good two-note guitar solo. The backing vocals aren't exactly "on," which is a great trait in my book. Definitely it's the B material here, but it's not bad by any means and is certainly better than I thought a song with its name would be. Nice sleeve and insert included. Get the kids jumping indeed. 4/5
Terrestrials - Terrestrials - Heel Turn Records - 8 songs - LP
What I hear is that Terrestrials is most of the guys from Outer Spacist with another guy on vocals. Don't quote me on that, though. Unfortunately, I stopped getting press releases from Heel Turn several records back, which is a real shame because he usually put some funny lines in there. Does this band sound like Outer Spacist? A little bit, I guess. But whereas I would call that band garage/psych, this band tends more toward some kind of prog-punk space rock fusion thing. The best parts of it reminded me of early Alice Cooper, and when they switch up the style a bit (like on "Platooned" or "Eerie") it gets more interesting. However, a lot of the songs here kinda get same-y. It's fully competent (well, okay, I wouldn't call the singer fully competent, but that adds character), but just kinda stays all in one territory. And there's highs in that as well, like the earworm first half of "A Man Dude" or "Teenage Waist Band," which ends before it goes anywhere, but I suppose that's better than the alternative if the alternative is a descent into jam hell. It just is what it is, as meaningless of a statement as that is. Even still, I'm always glad that there's an active label releasing stuff out of Columbus, and as this band, one assumes, is part of the current Columbus scene, good for them. 3/5
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.