The New Lou Reeds
There's nothing wrong with ambition. If a man doesn't take himself seriously -- not to say self-seriously -- then who will? It's rare to see a genius who isn't convinced of it himself. If one displays these convictions, however, it behooves one to have the courage of them, as well. Case in point: if your band is named after one of the single most important men in the history of American independent music, and you name one of your songs after someone ("Peter Laughner") who might have been another, then you owe it to yourself to take a chance or two with your music. More if you can.
Stephe DK of the New Lou Reeds doesn't seem interested in taking chances. It's not so much that his music isn't listenable; it's more that his ambition seems to reach no further than namedropping -- the music can be lumped without much difficulty with the latter-day white blues that has become so prevalent in the past three or four years. Trendiness aside (rather a kind move on our part), the reason for this music to exist is flimsy. Well, that's not really fair; music that's simply about life and death and hanging around in bars is something that people need. It helps them make sense of their lives, and I don't want to sound like I'm discounting the value of that kind of thing. But it's the music in general that's really important, rather than any particular artist or even any particular song.
You can't make a name for yourself playing music of no distinction, even if its pedigree is right. And the Reeds' cause is not advanced by songs like "Teenage Metalhead," which idiotically pays tribute to the most pointless, embarrassing and small-minded tendencies of rock-n-roll. I can't say that I hate this record, but perhaps the unkindest cut for Screwed is that the answer to the million-dollar question "does this rock?" is a resounding "sorta." (DM)
(Exit Stencil Recordings -- P.O. Box 110775, Cleveland, OH. 44111; http://www.exitstencilrecordings.com/; The New Lou Reeds -- http://www.newloureeds.com/)
Erode + Disappear
For five dollars, this CD is a steal. It's cheaper than most cover charges, yet the sound you get is akin to being in some dank club watching the opener before the opener. One of those bands that you've never heard before, and you came early just to get a seat at the bar, one of three other people watching the band (this includes the bartender, doorman, and sound guy).
Don't get me wrong -- Erode + Disappear isn't a bad album, and the rawness of it actually works it in its favor. If it was a polished and well-produced album, the inconsistencies and weakness might overpower the experience. As it stands, Philadelphia's Northern Liberties have created an album that definitely sounds original. Nothing about it is hackneyed or overdone. Definitely a keeper.
And did I mention it's only five bucks? (DAC)
(Worldeater Records -- P.O. Box 42728, Philadelphia, PA. 19101; http://www.worldeaterrecords.com/; Northern Liberties -- http://www.worldeaterrecords.com/