Dale Is Our Guru: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 92
Junkhouse Bones - Safari - self-released - 6 songs - digital
This band or project or whatever it is is one of those things that I know I've reviewed before but cannot remember anything about it. The name Junkhouse Bones made me think it was gonna be bluesy or swampy or something like that. It's not. I'd say it's alternative rock/pop punk (pop punk to me always means bands like the Undertones, but I mean the other definition of pop punk). The first three tracks are in a full band kind of mode and the remaining three are more subdued, with more sparse arrangements. I think I like this second half better. "God's Eye View" goes on a bit too long, but it's at times reminiscent of Nirvana with a drum machine. The closing "A Million Years Of Lies," which is just acoustic guitar and vocals, is probably my favorite of the bunch. This is what I assume Brand New sounds like, though I'm not familiar enough with Brand New to make a definitive statement in that regard. It's actually decent stuff, song-wise. My problem with it is the same as my problem with almost everything in this genre (the alternative rock/pop punk/emo continuum), and it's the production. The vocals are mixed too loud (at the same time, the vocals feel kinda quiet, so I guess it balances out), I just don't agree with the guitar and drum sounds (or they don't agree with me, rather). I don't know. I have a friend who absolutely loves music like this (and has no problems with the production and thinks I'm nuts), so I'm happy to have this to recommend to her. Decent stuff, but it doesn't quite grab me. 3/5
Stinky Monkey Finger - The Deep Dive EP - DF Records - 10 songs - digital
SMF makes their return to this column once again. I actually saw the phrase "stinky monkey finger" in something the other day and I went, 'oh, I wonder if that's where they got that from' and now I've completely forgotten where it was I read it. Oh well. As I say every time I review Dennis Baker's work (I'm not sure if this is a group he's in or a solo project and I guess I'd prefer to keep it a mystery), it's pretty out there stuff. It's all incredibly lo-fi ("negative fi," says their Bandcamp tags) and strange. There are some tracks that are instrumentals, some of which seem to be instrumentals over TV show audio ("Ten Shirts" and "Billy Dope and Bunny") where it's unclear whether these are intentionally sampled or the TV was just left on in the background while the song was recorded. Others, like the opening "Tonight" (which may be the most rockin' track I've heard yet from this camp– it's a good one, too) have vocals, which doesn't stop them from being mildly unsettling ("Love Fog" gives us synth and murmuring over a drum machine beat that does not even slightly match the beat of the song, "Sunshine" is sung a cappella over a different drum machine beat). The comparison I always throw out just to make this make some sense to the reader is Guided By Voices and their lo-fi half-song snippets they have all over the place, except this is like only those songs and it's just more weird in general (SMF have "The Clown King," the closing instrumental here and maybe the best instrumental on the record; GBV have their whole "clown prince of the menthol trailer" or whatever it is thing). I think I like these things more each time they come my way, or maybe this is just the best one yet. And this is the first in a series of five EPs released over the past several months (I'm a little behind with things in this column, my apologies), so you'll probably be seeing more from Stinky Monkey Finger in this space soon. 3.5/5
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.