I'd better start this by admitting, that, usually, I don't like "ambient" music. Beautiful, ethereal, float-y soundscapes that slowly develop over 20 minutes...well, they bore the crap out of me, most times. And, awful though it may seem to some, I generally lump "spacerock" into the same category. However, sometimes a band manages to get past my innate dislike for longer, minimal pieces of music, and just get to me. This 7", by the Michigan band Ohio (which includes, incidentally, cool person J.J. Heldmann, who used to be in Buddha On The Moon & now runs Fantastic Records and the Peloton subsidiary who co-released this...) is pretty spacerock-ish, to tell the truth, but the solid, unwavering drums and ultra-deep bass keep the whole thing anchored in an impenetrable, hypnotic groove, while the guitars and farfisa wash over it all.
I'm at a loss to explain the differences between side A ("It Was Evening All Afternoon") and side B ("Arm Up! Point At Venus!"), because they're very similar in style and neither one has any words, but, um, I think I like side B better, somehow... Anyway, this is very cool, interesting music -- it's definitely nice to find something I can zone out to AND not to be bored by. Oh yeah, and this has what's got to be the coolest packaging I've seen in a while for a 7" -- there's no real "sleeve," per se, but instead there're 2 transparencies on either side of a plain white paper sleeve, with a piece of red paper wrapped around the record inside. The effect is fucking awesome. (JH)
(Westside Audio Laboratory -- 8267 Brandywine Lane, Ypsilanti, MI. 48197/Peloton Records -- P.O. Box 4492, Ann Arbor, MI. 48106)
United Brotherhood of Scenesters
OS 101 comes from the ashes of the popular hardcore group Hogan's Heroes. Their music is kind of a melange of the sounds of Gorilla Biscuits, NOFX and CIV, to my ears. They also bring to mind H20, in the way that they seem to evoke thoughts of "those that came before" with their music. Lots of powerful punk guitar work, with melodic sing-along vocal work reminiscent of Fat Wreck Chords-type bands. You don't often find this much melody in a hardcore record, and that, I believe, is what sets this New Jersey quartet above the rest of the gang. There is also something about OS 101 that makes their music inherently uplifting, instead of the depressing, antisocial slant that hardcore seems to have taken as of late (not that that's bad, mind you, it's just nice to know that hardcore is not a mono-emotive kind of genre). Throughout the disc, OS 101 espouses the tenets of brotherhood, respect, and most of all, fun. I predict that these guys will attain a fair degree of popularity within the scene in the near future. (MHo)