-- --

|| A || B || C || D || E || F || G || H || I || J || K || L || M || N || O || P || Q || R || S || T || U || V || W || X || Y || Z ||


Catch Twenty-Two pic Catch Twenty-Two
Keasbey Nights

What? Ska-punk on ultra-hardcore diehard label Victory? News to me -- I guess the folks at Victory have decided to start branching out beyond just hardcore and its many offshoots...and to be honest, they picked a pretty darn good band to try it with. If you've read some of my reviews of other ska stuff, you'll know I'm somewhat of an anti-ska-punk-type; I figure most of it is utter crap, really. Lately I've been having to change my stance a bit, and this is a good example. Catch Twenty-Two are ska-punk, but they manage to blend both parts into a surprisingly cohesive 3rd Wave ska blast.
Less Than Jake are an obvious comparison here, especially on songs like "Day In Day Out" and "Sick and Sad" -- poppy sing-along lyrics, nice horns, and a general fun vibe. They also delve into almost-straight-up hc at points, as well, like on "Giving Up, Giving In" and "12341234"...which is the one song on here I can't listen to, by the way (largely because it ends up with a lame series of "shout-outs" to whoever).
As for my favorites: the title track is a smooth tale of gangster life, harkening back to the 2-Tone days, and I dig it; "Riding the Fourth Wave" is pretty different, kind of an surf-ska instrumental (maybe what the Skatalites would've sounded like if they'd covered the "Hawaii Five-O" theme, instead of "Guns Of Navarone"); "On & On & On"'s soft-loud break bit is killer; and "As the Footsteps Die Out Forever," the mournful story of a terminally-ill parent. It's rare that a ska song makes me want to cry, but... (JH/Fall 1999)
(Victory Records -- P.O. Box 146546, Chicago, IL. 60614; http://www.victoryrecords.com)

BUY ME:  Amazon

Cause For Alarm pic Cause For Alarm
Beneath The Wheel

"Even within the small scale that CFA operates on, I've felt committed to putting together records that contain more than just music to do kung-fu to..." states Cause frontman Keith Burkhardt in the liner notes. CFA's fourth album for Victory is still a good martial-arts workout album, but it also allows for a slight complication of the term "hardcore." CFA have always put their own spin on the genre, and they continue in that spirit here. Standout tracks are "Rich Get Richer," "Put it Down," and "Cleanser," which features a female vocalist on the track as well, something that one does not see too often in the male-dominated annals of hardcore. My only complaint is that some of the lyrics and liner notes come off as extremely preachy, even for hardcore. That notwithstanding, Cause For Alarm could very well be the harbingers of hardcore for the new millennium. (MHo/Fall 1999)
(Victory Records -- P.O. Box 146546, Chicago, IL. 60614; http://www.victoryrecords.com)

BUY ME:  Amazon

The Causey Way pic The Causey Way

The Causey Way is a rock band disguised as a cult disguised as a rock band. The rock band they're disguised as is fairly pathetic, and the cult doesn't seem to be much better. How bizarre, then, that the actual band behind everything turns out to be pretty damn good. An off-shoot of Man or Astro-Man? (they share a drummer), this is a group you find at one of those Night Of The Living Concept Bands concerts at your favorite club that makes you want to track down the members of Devo and let them know they've got some explaining to do.
Which, incidentally, is exactly where I found them, sandwiched between MOAM and VHS Or Beta (whose concept seemed to be standing around singing into vocoders and wearing black-light glasses). The Causey Way's set seemed silly, so much so that I tried to move to avoid being blessed by singer/guitarist/brainwasher Causey. But there, among the starched white uniforms, spastic nerd gyrations and 2(!) Moogs and a Farfisa, some rock and roll was being made.
Sounding almost exactly like what the future of music must have seemed to electro-geeks in 1965, WWCD stands as a monument to being a dork, advertising it to the world and not caring one goddamn lick. And with the force of these convictions comes a pair of minor-key pop gems ("The Bottom Line" and "Maltreated"), a lot of comic relief ("Science Made Me A Homo(sapien)," "Plan C," "Chocolate") and a closing song, "Natural Disasters (God's Black Box)" which splits the difference. Over a technical beat and some synths, a drone-like (as in bees, not continuous sound) voice matter-of-factly states, "Natural disasters happen every day/Man-made disasters happen every second." Heady stuff, until Causey, sounding like Terrence and Phillip, starts screaming, "Blow, blow, blow, you volcano!" It's an incredibly stupid moment, and a brilliant one. These two lines intersect more often than you'd think, but the reponsible parties usually bury or ignore it. Not the Causey Way; freak flag high, they salute the thing and start carving false idols out of the flagpole. (MH/Fall 1999)
(Put It On A Cracker Records)

-- Cross My Heart pic Cross My Heart

The worst thing about this disc is that it's an EP. I wanted to hear a lot more than just seven songs from this extremely talented bunch of guys. If you like your emo in the vein of Sensefield, Quicksand or Samiam, then you'll love XMH. They've mastered the art of controlled release: quiet, subdued verses often break into abrasive choral passages and then become near-sublime again. While this is nothing new, it doesn't seem trite here. XMH succesfully combines the visceral and cerebral to produce a truly stunning product. I was hooked immediately by the Sergio Vega-esque bassline that starts off the album's opener "dornier," and after that it was thirty minutes of pure bliss...well, as blissful as ruminating over failed relationships and loss can be; it is emo, after all. However, I must say that "secret to tell" is a pretty upbeat song (musically, at least), and a fine example of what the post-hardcore music world should be, a la Handsome. I can't wait for the full length from this band. (MHo/Fall 1999)
(Deep Elm Records -- P.O. Box 1965, New York, NY. 10156-1965, 212-532-3337; http://www.deepelm.com/)

BUY ME:  Amazon

Chris Cunningham pic Chris Cunningham
Stories To Play

It's funny, but my first thought upon listening to this album was "wow, it's a guitar album" -- if you're a guitarist, you probably remember those days back in the late '80s and early '90s when discs of guitar wankery were sold by the bushel (anybody remember Chastain? Blues Saraceno?). And in some ways, Chris Cunningham reminds me of those guys, in that he's obviously an extremely talented and versatile guitarist. Thankfully, the things he does with that skill are a hell of a lot more interesting and relevant than any GUITAR Magazine cover feature you can name, and the songs are worth listening to all by themselves.
There's somewhat of a "world music" tinge running through the whole thing, kinda the same sort of feeling you get when listening to Peter Gabriel or Sting's later stuff. Those two also come to mind in the soft but rough-edged vocal style and the dark, echoey sound of the music, particularly on tracks like "This One's On Me" or the title track. I swear, the voice makes that comparison difficult to shake, and if I heard this on the radio, I might mistake it for one of the above folks -- but hey, if you've gotta be compared to somebody, it could be a whole lot worse, right?
Listening to this album all the way through's a pretty intriguing experience -- odd instruments like bouzouki, tabla and dulcimer crop up throughout, and all the songs, even the more upbeat tracks, share a generally "dark" atmosphere, despite the hopeful sounds of the Tori Amos-ish hymn "Hamdullah" or the agile, sorta-bluesy "Papa Johnnie's Eyes." I like music that paints scenes more than almost any other kind, and this music feels kinda like walking through an empty part of the city at night; it's a picture of New York, I'd say, particularly those murky corners and bars where people go to get drunk and forget other people exist. (Oh yeah, and stick around after the CD's end for a "hidden track" of fractured swing, a la fellow NY'ers Morphine or maybe Firewater, 'cause it's pretty fine.) (JH/Fall 1999)
(Lunchbox Recordings -- P.O. Box 369 Ansonia Station, New York, NY. 10023; folks@lunchboxrecordings.com; http://www.lunchboxrecordings.com/)


--|| A || B || C || D || E || F || G || H || I || J || K || L || M || N || O || P || Q || R || S || T || U || V || W || X || Y || Z ||


AP -- Anne Panopio; BD -- Brandon Davis; BW -- Bob Wall; CE -- Charlie Ebersbaker; CH -- Colin Hart; CP -- Conor Prischmann; CPl -- Cindy Anne Polnick; CW -- Cory Worden; DD -- Doug Dillaman; HM -- Henry Mayer; HS -- Heather Santmire; JC -- Justin Crane; JF -- Judy Fan; JH -- Jeremy Hart; JP -- Rev. Joel Parker; JPo -- John Polanco; JT -- Jeffrey Thames; KM -- Ken Mahru; LP -- Lesa Pence; MA -- Marshall Armintor; MH -- Marc Hirsh; MHo -- Mel House; MP -- Marshall Preddy; NK -- Nikki Kelly; NL -- Nikki Lively; RZ -- Robb Zipp; TC -- Ted Conway; TD -- Tanuj Deora.

All contents © 2002 Space City Rock, unless otherwise credited.