A glance at the liner notes of Deadly Weapon's self-titled disc reveals much about the band's aesthetic, as they feature emphatic thanks of GOD and their favorite pizza, hot dog, and gyro joints, and use up more valuable real estate to thank OUR TROOPS, further proclaiming that WITHOUT YOU, AMERICA DOES NOT EXIST and that DESPITE THE MEDIA'S ONE-SIDED REPORTING (AND LACK OF), WE AMERICANS ARE EXTREMELY PROUD OF EVERY ONE OF YOU and that the band's hair is done by Tracy Torma and (of course) Neil, Jason, and Barbara in Chicago. Opposite, a picture of the aforementioned hairdos confronts the viewer. I would swear that those were wigs, but unfortunately, I can have no such confidence in the band's sense of self.
That pretty much sums up Deadly Weapon: big, dumb, loud, irritating, out of touch, and riddled with clichés, unintentional contradictions, and irony. Apparently viewing themselves as some kind of rock-and-roll messiahs, come to deliver "real rock and roll" to a world blighted by "anger music" and bands that "look like my next-door neighbor," the band promises "escapism, a time to forget their problems and not have them thrown back in their face" (and what of the support-the-troops business?) and compares themselves to "an out-of-control rollercoaster." How anyone could seriously claim that another tired old AC/DC/Appetite-era-Guns-n-Roses/Mötley Crüe/Poison/Stryper/etc. clone band resembles anything remotely "out-of-control" is beyond me, but unintentionally, the band seems to have hit the mark with the rest of the metaphor, since lacking speed, power, thrills, chills, ideas, value, or competence, Deadly Weapon resembles nothing so much as an low-rent rollercoaster, mindlessly following the same worn-out track over and over in a self-defeating and soporific journey to nowhere. (DM)
(Rocky Records; Deadly Weapon -- http://www.deadlyweapon.org/)
turn it up faggot
Playing the paranoid superego to the Black Lips' unbridled id, Atlanta's Deerhunter combine the bouncy, bass-driven disco-punk of the Liars' first record with the creepy weirdness of the Residents or, um, the Liars' second record, throwing in for good measure some Mission of Burma-style tape manipulation, Merzbow-influenced noise, and singing processed almost to the point of oblivion. There are some guitars in there somewhere, too. The result, depending on one's point of view, is either grating and pretentious or boldly confrontational. I choose the latter. If Deerhunter weren't so uncompromisingly forward-looking, I might say they were a little derivative, but for a very young band, that's not necessarily a fault, and besides, how often can one compare a band to the Residents? (DM)
(Stickfigure Records -- P.O. Box 55462, Atlanta, GA. 30308; http://www.stickfigurerecords.com/; Deerhunter -- http://www.notownsound.net/deerhunter/)
Dexter Danger is a four-piece band from California that plays emo-ish punk rock. The band is tight, executing tempo changes and other obstacles well. Melodically, their specialty seems to be the anthem, but even with that, they get mixed results.
Their melodies are mostly okay, but not great. The lyrics try to be thoughtful and are better on average than the melodies, but not even poetry can reclaim a boring melody. The band is tight, but they don't really come up with any interesting riffs -- worse, some of the riffs they come up with are pretty annoying (they're the worst at the endings of songs [which should not imply that they're good at intros and breakdowns!]). It's a bad sign when the most interesting parts of a punk record are the violin parts....
"The Rise and Fall of Erica Vallejo" is probably the best song on the record. They must have thought of it that way, too, cause it gets the big single treatment -- double-tracked vocals, harmonies, the tasteful guitar sound, everything all very tastefully done. They even included the tastefully wanky metal guitar solo in the middle. And it's probably the best song here, but sadly, even it's not all that great.
The album doesn't have many really bad songs, mind you, although "See You in Hell" makes up for that nearly all by itself. The call-and-response lead vocals in alternating right and left channels gets old quick, and makes what would have been a forgettable melody into something far more insidious. Then the chorus kicks in, promising relief, but unfortunately, there's none to be had; the chorus melody just wanders around, rather than going somewhere interesting. And the breakdown, rather than redeeming the song, simply delivers more of the same. Dexter Danger are truly masters of the mediocre. (HM)
(Orange Peal Records -- P.O. Box 15207, Fremont, CA. 94539; http://www.orangepeal.com/; Dexter Danger -- http://www.dexterdanger.com/)