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The Shods – Bamboozled, Jilted, Hornswoggled & Hoodwinked

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Poorhouse Records, 1998

So say you and the band just figured out that you’re going with the clean cut with suits look to dress sharp for shows.  One guy says he wants to wear shades and you let him, because he wants to be some kinda personality.  Then SOME KID just skateboards by during a band photo and spray paints the vulgar phrase “dossh” on your brand new suits.  Sure, the kid can’t spell ‘douche’ correctly, but the guy with the shades gets a sharp idea and tells the other guys to rearrange themselves.  Voila, the band name is born.  This is what really happened.  No, I’m lying.

The Shods absolutely represent that Boston bar band that would make for a great time out on a Friday night.  One wouldn’t even have to be drunk, but as it tends to be the case, drunkenness makes songs sound better than they really are.  So, back to the Shods.  They’re a rousing quartet that have veritably perfected a song list that anyone with a sense of rhythm (and a minimum level of quick criticism) will swing to.

This strength of the Shods is immediately apparent on the opening track of “I Know a Place”.  With the raspy, energetic vocals of Kevin Stevenson, “I Know a Place” has the quick pace, the edge, and the singalong chorus including some “Oh AH OH!”s to get a crowd riled up.  This song is so catchy I’m actually sick of it.  However, I have an unfortunate criticism level so I’m sure if this were released as a single these days it would take off.  It’s this catchy quality that make the Shods successful for the rest of the record.

One can tell that the Shods knew to keep the singalong aspect going to get some fans involved.  “Lucky” has a chorus that includes a few “yeah yeah yeah” bits, whereas “No Good No Fun” has a title that not only gets sung along but also is infused with a few preemptive “hey hey hey hey”s from the band.  One really would have a hard time resisting their efforts to provoke enthusiasm.

Most songs on the record are of good quality, but there are a few missteps as one can always expect from bands (unless they’re named Led Zeppelin).  Stevenson’s delivery of verses from “Musta Been Drunk” is much too similar to “I Know a Place”, and even though the chorus is completely different it still rings a bit awkward for the discerning listener.  “Rock and Roll Manifesto” could have been a great blast out for the record that was full of rockin’ combustion, but instead it kind of strolls out.  It doesn’t help that one can kind of hear a sound that may be record scratching, as if from a DJ, throughout the entire four minute song.  Perhaps this was their attempt at a cool swagger track, but it falls short.

The Shods can be listened to on their MySpace page, which includes that “I Know a Place” song.  Their website is up, but it’s looking rather out of date.

I think this record is a bargain for what I got it for because, despite its age, it still comes across as a very good rock record.  When one is practically spending nothing and keeping expectations low as a result, it’s a relief when something like this ends up in your possession.  The Shods don’t appear to be in action anymore if one is to judge by the state of their website, but it was good to read that they were still performing music a decade after this release.  Perhaps, if they are up for a reunion of sorts, one can expect some solid rock ‘n roll from these guys again.

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Categories: Bargain Tags: , ,

Collecting Music-Lovin’ Dust For One Year!

August 28, 2010 1 comment

One year ago today I posted my first review on this newfangled idea of a blog site.  Even though it’s only me writing up this stuff, I figured I’d throw a crazy party to celebrate with all of my readers.  This was last night…

Okay, I’m lying.  Half-naked people with body paint and copious amounts of liquor did not happen.  However, I instead rocked out in a collective band at a friend’s party last night, so I guess that works as well.  Maybe I’ll do the body paint thing after two years.

If you have read a review or have been following along once in awhile, perhaps you have picked up something relative to your music interests from this site.  I admit, the summer has been spent enjoying things that don’t require the written word (unless you count a 50+ page term paper … which temporarily killed my love for writing, haha).  I plan to pick things up at the normal 2-3 reviews per week pace that I was enjoying for most of the year.

Getting honest on ya, I am rather excited that I managed to keep this blog going for a whole year.  My writing has gotten a little better and, as evidenced by my earlier reviews, the length of my writing has also nearly doubled for each review.  I don’t think I’ll ever get as technically verbose as some of those other popular review sites, but for what I’m willing to churn out I’m content with where I’m at.

Thanks for reading and hopefully the next year will be even better.  By the way, will this body paint I have on come off with just a shower, or will it take a few days?

Les Black’s Amazing Pink Holes – Breakfast With the Holes

August 11, 2010 3 comments

Smog Veil Records, 2001

Look at that fine breakfast that kid is having.  Sugar-based circular tasties coated by something a nuclear plant created is what is going in that happy kid’s mouth.  Sure, orange juice, milk and toast are fine additions to his morning intake.  But with those punk characters adorning the cereal box, (and the certain anarchic message for the kid to read on the back of the box,) you know he’s going to cause some kinda disturbance during recess that day at school.  Needless to say, when a band takes the effort to make their album art this much fun to look at, it’s worth a grab.

Straight outta Cleveland from the eighties, the punk rockin’ Amazing Pink Holes are led by Les Black and a few other colorful characters.  Namely, some guy named Cheese Borger was on bass and a former drummer named Dick Hertz got kicked out of the band for dabbling a little too much with illegal stuff.  No matter what the music sounds like, at least you can tell these guys never had the issue of taking themselves too seriously.

This disc turns out to be a collection of the Pink Holes’ tunes from the eighties when they were still romping around bars and the like in Cleveland.  The album starts off with a loose cover of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, which has never been a favorite of mine but at least one can envision these guys having a great time of it onstage.  With a few sloppy and loose attempts after the cover, “My Mother” finally delivers a pretty good punk tune about mutual love of mommy.  “Baseball Park Fun” has Black yelping out baseball terms as if he is being concurrently sodomized, which may be some kind of anti-sports commentary or, er, some other commentary.

The band amps it up excellently with “Frustration Factor” with a killer heavy riff that compliments Black’s rather high-pitched voice.  Another fine tune is “Crazy Slut”, which has minimal lyrical comprehension but I suppose one doesn’t really need to have the song’s theme spelled out.  When the band wasn’t in the mood for sloppiness or half-baked song creations, they could really slap together an invigorating punk tune.

Since this record comes across as an accumulation of most of the Pink Holes’ work, you get pretty much anything they had available.  This includes some of the less interesting tunes, like the live ‘country’ tune of “Put the Bone In” and the criminally muffled and short “Phil Collins Panties”.  The uncharacteristic thudding and screechiness of “Mr. Serious” should not have been ventured by these guys whenever they recorded it, but apparently Black was feeling angst-ridden and emotional.  Needless to say, this record has practically an equal share of quality punk tunes and quality junk tunes.

Get a taste of their sound with this vid:

Whether or not one thinks these guys had any talent or were just another band making a lot of exaggeration and noise, the Pink Holes had to be a good time to see live.  They never managed to go much further beyond this collection of tunes, nor did they emerge much further from their Cleveland scene.  Looking around it appears that some concoction of the group still makes the rounds once in awhile for a show, so if you’re into some no frills, old school punk maybe it’s worth a trip to Cleveland sometime.

The Libertines – Self-Titled

August 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Rough Trade, 2004

Okay, so pretend you don’t know who the Libertines are.  You don’t know about the drugs, the British hype machine, or their unfortunate quick exit.  Take a look at that record cover.  The band name starts out fine, but then looks as if someone tried to finish the project on a country bus.  You’ve got one guy who looks like he is vaguely concerned about his bleached elbow and another guy who has a look of ‘uh, call the ambulance’.  Along with a skull tattoo and that frightening logo in the bottom right corner and you have what amounts to a rock ‘n roll record.  It’d be a shame for anyone to leave this one lying around amidst the dust.

After listening to a few recent British rock bands, I’ve gotten an idea as to what qualities one can expect from rockers out of England.  One quality is that there’s the almost lazy, careless effect to the vocalist’s voice.  Pete Doherty and Carl Barat consistently sound as if they were asked to record/mumble the lyrics in one take while sitting in armchairs with their feet propped up.  Perhaps instead he got them down in many takes with extreme attention to nonchalant detail!  Who knows … the Libertines do have a reputation to uphold, so if they have got to sound as if they’re off the cuff all of the time then they have succeeded.

This singing style is readily apparent in “Last Post On the Bugle”, though the peppy build up and rumblin’ execution of the band makes it one of the stronger tracks on the record.  The lackadaisical swagger in this tune may trump the more radio-friendly opener of “Can’t Stand Me Now”, which was an obvious choice for a single at the time.  Nothing like a song about the difficulties of being friends with Doherty to get the kids going.

Many of the songs after the first two drift in and out of memory but don’t latch on as particularly unique.  Most of them are full of slurry lyrics and a zestful acceleration to a crashing chorus.  The tracks that stand out to me include the barnstorming “Arbeit Macht Frei” (about a racist hero of World War II), “The Saga”, and “What Became of the Likely Lads”.  “Lads” ends the ceaselessly energetic record before the band, of course, slips in a quiet acoustic number performed by Doherty.  I personally feel that when bands do this sort of thing it’s a little too late for stripped down reflections, and it mostly comes off as a trite reach for affection.  The Libertines can be forgiven, I suppose, given that the rest of the record was more enjoyable as a whole.

The Libertines and their music can be found on MySpace if you’re so interested.

Now that the Libertines are defunct, one has to feel a little bit of sadness that their stumbling, carefree attitudes are missing from the touring circuit.  Even if the mumbling sometimes made it tough to know what they were singing about and the drug habits of Doherty made it even more difficult to get them to play anything as a group, the rock fans could use a full-time return of the Libertines.  Although this was their last and record recorded, there is still hope that the Libertines aren’t through with their clamoring style yet.