GitoGito Hustler “We are Japanese Girls Band!!” All are produces for oneself itself. I want to send wonderful music. There is no border in music. Happy!! Happy!! Happy!!. Sure the cover of this demo disc the band gave me at CMJ reads like a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap, maybe without the Jesus babble. Cute Motown covers by a band that rocks a lot harder live, is how I’d describe this quirky punk CD. You’ll recognize “Locomotion” because its all sung in English and sounds just like “Locomotion.” Beyond that, you’ll enjoy the shooby doo-waas. You can hear the Ramones influences in the beat, and the way the songs are slower than you’d expect them coming out of the studio, But really, I recommend the live show. For more on this band, including a great Website with quick-time flicks from their visit to the States, point your browser to - Ment

Candy Ass “Orgy” R.A.F.R. Records, Sudio City, Ca. I listened to this disc a lot, when it first arrived and leading up to their CMJ appearance at my least favorite NYC venue, Irving Plaza. Then I didn’t touch it for months. Maybe it’s a warmer-weather kind of thing. Candy Ass runs the gamut to fair to great, all in six quick songs. Maybe they’re trying to be too cute (police line-up photo on cover) or (I Like) Brenda’s Boyfriend, maybe they’re too authentically time-worn? Rings too true on “Queen of the Crazies” “ Spend my life on a morphine drip ... dementia .... “ bla bla bla. Anyway, waited a while to get into that Irving Plaza show, then bailed when the goons insisted I check my bag. Do I look like Osama? When will they close that club? I’ve had two experiences there in 20 years - Johnny Cash and the Ramones - which was supposed to be “the eve of destruction” I need to see Candy Ass live in a club that suits them, like Cbs. I think they even played the Woodstock body art fest, but I missed that too. - Ment

Digital Underground, “Playwutchalike,” Tommy Boy/Rhino ­ Did DU establish itself as a clown prince of funk or relegate itself to being regarded as a novelty act and forgotten? This collection allows you to answer that question for yourself. Like George Clinton, DU has balanced its goofy humor with juicy, beefy beats that get dance floors broiling and definitely approaches the P-Funk ethos of maximumisness. These Oakland based funk pioneers started dropping science and playing with live musicians in the 1980s and still hold up well in retrospect. ­ EAK

El Centro, “Prohibido!” Finger Records ­ These punk rockers on Orange County’s Finger Records serve up high quality punk with that Southern Cali sound we love at the Urban Rag. This disc will surely please fans who love the punk versions of rockabilly offered up by bands like Social D and the Paladins. - EAK

Karney “All Connected” Tangent Records, San Francisco, Ca. Influences from punk to rap, reggae, and middle eastern music all find their way on to what’s promoted as Karney’s “Latest and Greatest recording.” I hear a little Chrissie Hynde on “All Connected,” when Karney hustles to get the lyrics in - though I’m not sure what Hynde would make of “Drug War” with Steffen Franz adding a little vocals or “My Little Bush’” also with Franz both commentaries on the state’s persecution of basically harmful habits. Since others have compared Karney to Edie Brickell, I listened for that and came to the conclusion that the band can occasional sound like New Bohemians, as in “Something Like Eden,” but recently having landed my mitts on Brickell’s most recent solo effort, I don’t hear it any father than a certain acoustic melodic echo. “All Connected” is best when Karney avoids simple rhymes for rhymes sake,” Out of Body,” and uses them to deliver a real message, “My Little Bush,” ... “Growing there so innocently, it’s going to make me lose my property.” If that confuses you, forget it. If you find this CD, pretend I didn’t ruin the ending of the film for you. - Ment

Blank Pages “45 and 33” FDR/Face Down Recs - Too smoothly cool for their own good, these folks. Polished performance brings harmony rich rock to the disc in force. Think of the straight-forward stuff in your collection, maybe starting as far back as the Beatles and to the 90s, when Mathew Sweet was a regular in the pages of the Urban Rag. Now blend, and pour. - Ment.

The Pinkerton Thugs “End of an Era” Go Kart Records. Never surrender, never forget. These guys are marking the end of an era - but fortunately the era shall return. I hear a touch of Ramones in tunes like “Where the Money Goes,” though the lyrics are a little deeper than beat on the bratz. “A mans gotta work if he wants to live. But is a life of labor for the highest bid a life worth liven’?” I hear a touch of The Clash in tunes like “No Heroes No Justice,” “There’s no more heroes. There’s no more justice. White collar crime from the office.” - Enron? Mostly though it’s vintage punk the way you like it.

De La Soul, “Timeless, The Singles Collection,” Tommy Boy/Rhino ­ In 1988, my friend Juan was excited to see De La at the New Ritz ­ until he realized he was the only person of color in the house. Were we in the company of particularly hip white-folk or had De La Soul been pigeonholed as a pop act based on the lovably silly “Me Myself and I”? Let’s give the audience credit for possibly discovering an alternative to MCs getting ‘gangsta’ to the strain of Motown samples ­ De La featured more complex musical references ­ banjoes!?, vocal harmonies, and positive messages under the flag of daisy power. This group may have laid the groundwork for positive hip-hop acts like J5 or Fugees but never really escaped its cute image. Getting fierce on their somber sophomore release “De La Souls Dead” backfired and the band continued to fly under the industry radar. They got props on their 2001 release Art Official Intelligence” with guest spots by Redman and Chaka Khan, and are highlighted as quiet legends on this fine collection. - EAK

Julia Darling self-titled/self-released. Find Darling at No really, find her. It’s got a much bigger sound than the solo shows I’ve seen, but Darling’s CD stand tall as any record in the bin. “There is no blue in my rainbow when you’re here with me.” That’s a line. No? That’ someone with an thought, who writes it down and makes it a song. Other side of the coin? “I wake up smoke write songs drink smoke make out that’s my Monday ... I make a list of things I could buy if I had fifty grand that’s my Friday.” Barely any thought at all, as far as I can tell. Tad self-indulgent, too. If you like sweetly sung songs with attitude try these. - Ment.

The Birth of Western Trance - Pitchfork Wreckerds. When hear anything described as “trance,” I think of a bunch of low-rent club hoppers taking X and overly promiscuous sex. Maybe that’s what Peter Head had in mind when he recorded this gem at Rock Ledge in August 2002 - but I think it rises high above all that. Sometimes derivative, rarely repetitive western musical landscapes fill this most-listenable disc. Referenced are the western heroes you might expect to find and at least three tracks inspired by Raymond Burr. Go figure. I find those old Perry Mason’s on the Hallmark channel often unwatchable - but I wonder if Head was tuned in that summer. - Ment

Ya-Ne-Zniyoo “All is not lost,” self-released. If you can’t enjoy this, you’ve got no sense of humor. Or you’re not drunk enough. I don’t drink but I do know how to laugh. Black cats do love their mothers, you know. Plugging away earnestly, no doubt, in New Jersey - these folks must play the bar circuit. If they don’t they should. Sure, there would be a fare dose of abuse form greasy-hared unappreciative types. But I bet the sound man would enjoy their non-offensive melodic approach. (Even if the lyrics are at times troubling, as in “Cop Show”) “Porn queens ... Smack, crack, Special-K and Ex.” They’ve got issues, these folks. I’d like to hear the electronically-peppered minimalism. For more, including an explanation of the name which is derived from Russian, visit - Ment

The Allstonians “Bottoms Up!” Fork In Hand Recs., Boston, Mass. Someone’s got to keep playing ska. Otherwise the skankers will have to hang up their felt hats and skinny ties. There’s a difference between these boys and the bands that make it big, big, big playing this stuff. The Allstonians got soul. They’re got spirit They’ve got horns that don’t sound like they were programmed in the studio. AND they’ve got my vote for the best ska CD reviewed in this issue. OK. I think they’re the only ska CD reviewed in this issue, if you don’t count a few random tracks here and there on other albums and DVDs. - Ment

Dipsomaniacs “Freakin Eureka” Face Down Records Burlington, NJ. And then there were pop bands. And this was one of them. And it was good. I think the Dipsomaniacs could sing about cars, or girls, or Apple Jacks, and would be very much the same. This is not to say the band is without range, but they rarely stray far from their major chords. After all, “Everybody wants to hum that tune. If you’re alive then you’re not immune.” Right? Just ask label man Mich Chorba, the front man in the band. That’s a line from “Calvin,” actually just about the only line. And sure there are a few minor chords. Chorba’s got a unique sense of humor. How many of you could write about a “low level search for God” What’s wrong with that? (also his line) Anyway. Get it? Don’t be afraid of the pop. Come into the light. - Ment.

Bill Popp and the Tapes, 50 Years of Popp, self-released ­ Okay so he fudges it a bit by claiming 50 years in the music biz ­ this 2-song disc marks the 50th year since Popp sang in his 2nd grade class choir. His music does however harken back to the music of yore with sweet poppy creations that I would place with the Age of Aquarius. ­ EAK

Spring Heel Jack “AMaSSED” Thirsty Ear Recs, Norwalk, Conn. Jazzy, atmospheric, and altogether good. This, what I believe to be Spring Heel Jack’s almost-most-recent release, is more avant garde than the Charles Mingus “Mingus Ah Um” I’ve been listening to. Of course, the Mingus has been in the dashboard player all week and this would probably distract me unfavorably on those late night drives. Tasty nonetheless. Pass the biscuits. - Ment

Audio Learning Center, “Friendships Often Fade Away,” Vagrant Records ­ As the title implies, this disc is full of vaguely sad, haunting tunes about love, loss, and the foibles of life. The trio has a clean, circumspect guitar line running
through its songs with an upper register vocal which might remind you a bit of Garageland or Modest Mouse. ­ EAK

Poetz4peace “A Pair of Olive Leaves” Olive Tree Music. Steffen Franz, beatmaster and producer excellent, drives the bus on this Thin-sounding hip-hop poets invite you to “keep your Uzi and take my bouzouki.” Get it? It’s about peace, y’all. It’s so mellow you might think its about reefer, but it’s really about peace. It’s multi-cultural, multilingual, and more. It’s just plain cool, get it. And what’s wrong with peace? Anyway. Zeki Ali, a participating poet writer and radio guy in Cyprus points out that its a way of life, not just an alternative to war. It’s the path I choose, even if I have my hawkish days. - Ment.

Hamell On Trial “Tough Love” Righteous Babe Recs. One-man band Hamell, with special guests including members of Captain Beefheart, Moden Loers, Swans, and label founder Ani DiFranco, has a message to deliver and does it in the jerky, staccato, punctuated methods of some of his contributors. Endearing himself by just the second tract, “Halfway,” Hamell jabs a knowing eye at corporate media, which includes the occasional intelligent article in the fashion-peddling pop music magazine to justify its existence. “Take the movies name tatoo it on your labia, what difference would it make? ... Why go half way?” Hamell even raps. - Ment

Gov’t Mule, Beacon Theater, NY, NY, 12/31/03 ­ Two things surprised me about this show ­ the music was even better than I expected ­ and almost no one who asked about my new year eve’s plans knew who Gov’t Mule was. A little backstory ­ Warren Haynes, the main personality behind Gov’t Mule ­ has played guitar for the Allman Brothers several times. Initially Allman’s guitarist and party animal Dicky Betts recruited him for his side project and then Greg Allman chose one of Haynes songs for ABB’s 1989 release. Haynes recorded and toured with ABB during a stint that saw many live shows and a Grammy for an ABB live recording. When Dicky Betts was kicked out of ABB in 2001, Haynes rejoined the Allmans. Haynes had formed Gov’t Mule in ’94 with ABB bassist Allen Woody. Woody passed away after GM’s fifth release and Haynes, who has played with bands such as Phil Lesh & Friends ­ recruited top bassists like John Entwistle and Flea to fill the void left by Woody’s passing. Not surprisingly, Haynes serves up a masterful and scorching mix of southern fried blues rock jams that attracts a crowd that answers the question, “What happened to all the people who used to go on Dead tour?” ­ EAK

Terror Fimer Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Go Kart - Well-picked and just shy of two dozen, these tunes by the likes of Lunachicks, Anti-Flag, NOFX, Vandals, and Bouncing Souls make for an excellent compilation. From so-Cal, (when did Lunachicks “Terror Firmer” get so so-Cal sounding) to near h metal, Vision of Disorder “In the Room” It’s just a good listen. Don’t forget Down by Law “Fly the Flag,” and Entombed “Amazing Grace.” I think this played through three times one afternoon and I didn’t notice the repeats. It’s just that good. - Ment.
Southport “nothing is easy” Go Kart Recs. Doublebass? Thumpa, thumpa, thumpa! Thinly melodic punksters distract listener from somewhat above average lyrics with undeniable beat. BUT CD craves for more diversity of sound, as track by track differences fail to surface. Nothing is easy. - Ment

Majestic Twelve “Searching for the Elvis Knob” - self released. “When they filled my plate, believe me I ate. But the aftertaste is just like soylent green,” so sings sometimes warbly Majestic Twelve, vulnerably working through often-acoustic well-crafted pop songs. These boys probably have some REM on their shelves. “I don’t have a job. I just drunk beer and play guitar. So don’t get mad if I don’t care if you don’t like my songs. I don’t have a job. Na na na na na, na nay. ...” Hey I like your songs. Who wouldn’t? This was in repeated rotation, with Terror Firmer, and likewise never got old. - Ment.

Santana, Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, WA, 11/15/03 ­ Carlos Santana’s recent surge in popularity is not just a result of the longevity of a career launched with his first album in 1968. Santana has taken an emotive and distinctive guitar sound, an explorer’s spirit, and a deep and reverent spirituality to become a beacon to promising younger artists. His own band, which has always been a revolving cast, consists of younger musicians who have not only mastered the repertoire and jam well together but shine on their solo spotlights at live shows. The bar for solo performances is set pretty high by Dennis Chambers, whose monstrous solo skin turn during “Yaleo” dazzled and bewildered many. Fans wondered where he gets the energy to whack those drums so hard or how he makes that helicopter sound ­ while playing one-handed? Joining the San Francisco band were two locals ­ including Santana’s original drummer Michael Shrieve, who now lives in Seattle. Also joining Santana, who has collaborated with everyone from Al Kooper to Willie Nelson was guitarist Jerry Miller, a native of Tacoma and founding member of Moby Grape. Despite the stellar musicianship from all directions at this show, I was most touched when Santana dedicated “Peace On Earth” to South African Desmond Tutu. Tutu and Santana have both spoken out for peace to prevail in troubled times. Santana has a special interest in South Africa, the proceeds from a tour earlier in 2003 went to South African assistance. - EAK

Neko Case, 3/29/03, EMP, Seattle, WA, 5/24/03, The Gorge, George, WA ­ You have read about Neko Case a few times in the Rag. I posited at one point that she might succeed despite herself. Indeed she has continued to regale audiences with her smoldering honky-tonk voice with a heart’o’punk and has replaced her somewhat prickly disposition with a greater sense of self-confidence and the comfort that comes with relentless touring and a bottomless pit of refined talent. Her appearance @ EMP saw her harmonizing with two other great voices ­ Kelly Hogan and Carolyn Marks. These women exuded a great sisterhood in their ‘tween-song banter while they commingled 50s politeness with 90s social dysfunction and instrumental stylings on a beautifully jangling assortment of pedal steel, guitar, and mandolin. Case’s appearance at the Sasquatch Fest showed that she plays well to a large audience and held her own on a bill that also included Liz Phair, Coldplay, and Flaming Lips. - EAK

Grand Master Flash, 6/12/03, Baltic Room, Seattle, WA ­ Summer got off to a strong start for fanciers of old school hip hop pioneers as this show followed an appearance in Sea-town by Grand Master Cas for the Yes, Yes Y’all at EMP. To answer your question, no, he did not play White Lines. GMF did however spin the Furious 5’s other major hit, The Message, and gave an overview of great beats from 70s pioneers through Eminem. He also gave little insights into his personal philosophy; for instance his refusal to be constricted by genre designations, “As long as it has a beat, I’ll play the motherfucker.” He gave shootouts to a diverse cadre of creators from James Brown, an artist for which he sees no need for scratching, “You just let it play” to Nu Shooz, Blondie, Cypress Hill and Missy Elliot. GMF also revealed his guidelines for DJs ­ “DJs need to keep and open mind” and declared that striving for peace and love should be the top priority ­ “hip-hop doesn’t have to be violent. This show reinforces the history examined on GMF’s recent mix-tape “Essential Mix: Classic Edition.” ­ EAK

Sasquatch, 5/24/03, Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA ­ Although I don’t like dealing with promoter-venuebehemoth House of Blues, it does pull together an admirably topnotch and diverse lineup for this Memorial Day party on the rim of a canyon over the Columbia River Gorge. Headliners Coldplay, may be getting most of the magazine covers and coverage lately, but less known acts like Ron Sexsmith, Patrick Park, honky-tonk siren Neko Case, Jurassic 5, and especially Flaming Lips really shined. The Lips subscribe to my theory of performers putting every possible element into a bigger than life stage show. With a cast of 2 or 3 dozen folks in animal suits, robot parts, and oversized props, Wayne Coyne and crew surpassed the expectations I had for a band that is already known for great songwriting and a outsized imagination that saw the release last year of two albums - “The Day They Shot a Hole in the Jesus Egg” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot.” Their album titles alone are masterful haiku and that song about the lady spreading Vaseline on her toast still gets stuck in my mind’s ear for days. Jurassic 5 also commanded respect as the MCs exhibited their knack for great harmonizing while spilling lyrical positively and bombastic beats. Three stages made it hard to catch all the up and coming bands ranging from paid-their-dues indie mainstays like Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse to newer acts like UK’s The Music which sounds a lot like Jane’s Addiction with some Soundgarden gravity thrown in to pleasing results. - EAK

Krist Novoselic ­ I think “Where Are They Now” pieces are often shameless and lurid and justly relegated to E! but in the case of the former Nirvana bassist, we are looking at a thriving career rather than a carwreck. Sadly, Novoselic did call it quits in the music business this year after his latest project, Eyes Adrift, didn’t quite take off. The trio had talent ­ pairing the Nirvana bassist with Sublime drummer Bug Gaugh and Meat Puppets guitarist/singer Curt Kirkwood. The industry may have had a jaundiced eye towards the group as survivors (all 3 came from bands ravaged by heroin) or supporting players eclipsed by stellar bandmates like Curt Cobain and Bradley Nowell. Although anyone halfway hip should recognize Rolling Stone as a shameless courtesan to the majar labels and a hopelessly outdated rag, its lukewarm review of the EA debut may have proven the kiss of death. I checked EA out at Seattle’s Graceland nightclub and found the group as a whole to be exactly equal to the sum of its parts ­ ie. proficient and respectable but lacking that magic of synergy we’d come to expect from the precursor bands. We may have held them to higher standards than newer bands, but had only given them a chance because of loyalty to their alma maters. Novoselic has returned to his other primary occupation since the demise of Nirvana ­ politics. He had fought Seattle’s draconian laws making all-ages shows virtually impossible (the dreaded Teen Dance Ordinance was recently dismantled) and contributed to the cause as a benefactor for Seattle’s thriving marijuana legalization activists. He also joined Jello Biafra and Kim Thayil in ’99 for the one-off no-WTO band (reviewed in UR). Novoselic is currently upping the ante with two major political projects ­ pursuing Superdistricts, a complicated voting scheme which most closely resembles the parliamentary system and could diminish the stranglehold exerted on elections by the major parties, and running for Lieutenant Governor in his home state of Washington. These may seem like monumental undertakings for the grunge giant, and they are, but Novoselic has sustained his commitment to political activism for over a decade now and his speeches before a variety of groups show he is
serious-minded and being taken seriously in the political arena. For more info and transcripts of his speeches, check out - EAK