AUTOreverse Reviews - May, 1997

BARKING DOGMA CD It's sad to come across an album where the lyrics are well-written, witty and complex, but where the music is as lively as a wet Sunday afternoon in an old folks' home. BARKING DOGMA must live somewhere near a black hole that sucks all the dynamics out of songs and leaves them as fresh and crisp as an old hed of lettuce in a dead uncle's refrigerator. Kevin Dymond can write a mean lyric when he has a mind to, but I have to say that with the exception of the drummer and the bass player, the musicians, Kevin included, sound like they're trapped in a forced-labour camp under heavy sedation. The overall impression is of a bunch of people who had to record this album to pay their back taxes. Those damned saxophones...I'm not a great fan of the instrument at the best of times, but the two sax players on this album are so mannered, you almost expect them to say "After you...", "No, after you...", "No, I insist..." as they trade their lines. And the lead vocalist? Grace Slick on a bad-hair day, perhaps...There is a curious '70's feel to this album that reminds me painfully of that dull, dull decade. Most of the time, the album is so apathetic, it can't even bother its arse being dull. Occasionally, the group try and liven things up by coming over all "punky", but they end up sounding like embarrassing parents, trying to be hip and trendy in front of one's teenage friends. "What about that Johnny Vicious, then?" Just to show that I *did*, in fact, listen to this album in its entirety (I passed up the more pleasurable prospect of having my wisdom teeth removed) I did like”Lost On The Turnpike” , but only because it sounded like the Bard of Swindon (That would be Andy Partridge, obviously.-Ian) in an odd sort of way. Would I buy this album? Only if I lost a bet... (Alien Records PO Box 313 Loleta CA 95551 USA) Daniel Prendiville

KAVA KAVA "YOU CAN LIVE HERE" The first time I played this tape in the background, my impression was of an album of fine funky-metal music, played by brilliant musicians with verve and aplomb oozing out of every pore. Then I sat down and listened to the album with a critical ear... What do you think happens when a singer with a voice like an angel, a guitar player with more licks than a cat with nine tongues and a rhythm section that sounds like it's joined together at the hip go to record and album? They bloody well show off, don't they? These guys are brilliant musicians, but they have absolutely no ability to edit their music down to manageable proportions. Practically all of these tracks could do with a good 3 1/2 to 4 minutes being lopped off. And there really is *no* need to have 3 or 4 tempo and rhythm changes in every song, guys. Are these boyos so confident in their musicianship that they can't be spoken to about this? Tracks like “Gil” and “Tat Tvam Asi” start off brilliantly, but this urge to engage in self-congratulatory workouts makes these tracks tiresome. A shame, really... Let's be positive though. The bass player has to be one of the most gitfted I've heard in years. On “Revenge Of The Pseuds” he goes fucking ballistic. I suppose being born with twenty fingers on each hand helps a bit. My favourite tracks are “Revenge...”, “Sync”, (which reminds me of Can's “Call Me” more than a little --and no harm in that...) and “Hippy Bollocks”, the standout track; an ambient instrumental that is 90% less furious and 200% less complicated than the other tracks. An excellent album, potentially, but spoiled for me by an inability to kill off a sing at the right time. What these guys need is a producer with a stop watch and an allergic reaction to songs lasting over 4 minutes! Go on, buy the album and see if I'm not right... (Chocolate Fireguard 56 Somerset Road, Huddersfield HD5 8HZ UK) Daniel Prendiville

ART SIMON "MORE OF THE SAME" CD Anyone who titles their album "More of the Same" and who calls the tracks Parts 1, 3 (...yes...), 4, 5 and 6 is inviting a bland and superficial assessment of their material. Well, I won't give Art Simon what he's looking for, so there. I find it impossible to divine any positive purpose for this music at all. The tracks are far too long and too strident to be of any use to the movie industry, you'll never hear any of these tracks on a TV commercial and the Spice Girls need not worry about their grip on the Christmas No. 1 spot. Buried somewhere underneath all this wilful noise is some interesting music, though typically it's to be found at the intros and fade-outs. Art has this pathological urge to press all the buttons on his drum machine. Forget it, man. The album works "best" when the drum machine has been switched off. I "liked" Part 3, with its sonic equivalent of rapid cross-cut editing, and Part 4 with the ringing wet glass effect and the moaning synths running throughout the track. I have to say, though, that I found little in More of the Same that would encourage me to give the album another listen. Sorry... "Art for Art's Sake"? Probably. But music that "just is" just isn't enough, is it? (Cohort Records 247 Sullivan Street #403, Oshkosh, WI 54901-4129, USA) Daniel Prendiville

SKEPTICAL CATS "RECORD RECORD" CD Skpetical Cats, eh? This group should change it's name to Schizoid Cats, because this album demonstrates the split personality inherent in the group. The album contains some excellent tracks: “Upside Down” and “Opaque” evoke early Sparks; “Quad Circus” calls to mind Jethro Tull (with some fine flute playing, by the way) while “Easy Street” sounds like 60's Pink Floyd. However, none of these fine tracks come within an ass’s roar of “Slight Of Hands”, a Ben Folds Five soundalike (so they *have* been listening to contemporary music, then...) which has a fabulous piano-driven intro and comes complete (at no extra cost to you, dear listener) with a swing like an elephant's dick. Ah, but then... The group churns out this appalling R'n'B based twaddle that I can only categorise as "pub-rock lite". Inoffensive, workman-like, "good-time music"; fine stuff to play at frat-house dances if you don't mind the audience ignoring you while they get pissed on various unspecified toxic concoctions. “Whiskey Breakfast” is typical of this genre, while “Moonnrise In Bombay” can be filed under "ethnic 'pub-rock lite'". The album typifies for me the classic problem with self-produced, self-financed music. You've paid through the nose to record all these damn tracks; economics dictates that you've got to slap 'em all on the album, irrespective of quality. Leaving aside the songwriting quality control issue, many of the poorer tracks are not helped by lacklustre instrumentation, frankly dopey backing vocals and an overall deficiency in aplomb. But, hey, I'm a grumpy old fucker, anyway. Skeptical Cats are probably a very good live band and there is some excellent material on RECORD RECORD. Ultimately, though, it would have made a brilliant EP. (2517 California Ave, Dayton OH 45419 USA) Daniel Prendiville

"WORDS IN OUR MOUTHS" compilation Here's the deal. Back in 1995, K.D. Schmitz, creator of the TEN THOUSAND THINGS fanzine, offered to write music to other people's lyrics. Over 2 dozen brave souls took up the challenge. K.D. took their words and moulded them into the songs that comprised a tape entitled WORDS IN MY MOUTH. However, having felt that he had not done justice to these songs, he asked other people to record their own versions of these songs. The compilation of these new versions is entitled WORDS IN OUR MOUTHS. 20 tracks, 14 different songs. Huh? Many of the songs are featured more than once, recorded by different artists. Of the three different versions of “A Snake And Your Car,” Michael J. Bowman's version is easily the best, having a groovy early-70's feel and featuring his own off-beat vocal style. K.D. himself features, in various guises, on 9 different tracks (hyperactive or what?), with various members of the Clan Mc.Schmitz. His best contribution is “The Evil One Hates”, a vaguely rockabilly track which proves the old saw that the Devil may well have all the best tunes. Good fun, but is my soul in peril for listening to it? Special mention must be made of two tracks: “You Think You Don’t Know” by Michael Dittman gets all poetic over a faint metal background. Interesting idea. Elvis's appearance on the track was most welcome. Junkyard Genius' “Other Downtown Dreamer” includes the most creative use of a vacuum cleaner this side of a DIY blow job. And is that someone playing tennis? We should be told... The best track on the tape is Deleted's version of “Andree”. Sounds like Sparks (where have you heard that from me before?), and one of the few tracks on the tape where the musical arrangement complements the lyrics. Dig those crazy seagulls. A track that *could* work outside the fetid, claustrophobic atmosphere of hometaping. A mixed bag, therefore. Something for most everybodys. (KD Schmitz PO Box 1806, Poughkeepsie NY 12601 USA) Daniel Prendiville

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