All The Passion In The World
Any band that touts themselves as being "rocking and sensitive" better live up to their claim. On All The Passion In The World, The Underground are too much of the latter -- their songs are similar to mid-Eighties Midwestern indie-rock and, at times, a lot like The Feelies, but their songs are classic, catchy pop -- nothing earth-shattering, just low-key, sugary songs. The Underground's lyrics tell tales of love and longing; on "Boy," the vocalist sings, "You silly boy / You're just a boy with a different set of values / Boy with a dirty bed and bathroom / Boy without a clue about lust or love." With all that, the innocent charm of the album (especially on songs like "Two Dreams On An Antique Feather Bed" and "She Was Lovely Like A Photograph of Rain On A Forest Trail") makes it appealing and hard to resist. (DAC)
(Undergroundsongs -- 5940 California St. #6, San Francisco, CA. 94121)
Used Alien Mind
Positive Mental Theme
I love hearing albums that take me by surprise. Who would imagine that an album by a band called Used Alien Mind would be as original and hokey-free as this? Sure, the influences on Positive Mental Theme run deep, but Used Alien Mind's Mike Leporte is able to maintain a unique perspective. Tracks like "Kid Mental" and "The Dirtbombs" reek of The Stooges -- they start slow but quickly jump with raw energy. Both tracks are among the album's best, and "Mental"'s stereotypical jaded loner lyrics ("Try so hard to be normal / All I get is the kid is mental") are innocent enough to be taken lightly. Several songs venture into shoegazer territory -- Jason Pierce is obviously an influence -- but Used Alien Mind's songs aren't accessible enough to compete.
Leporte's throwback mixture of old and new mostly works in his favor, however. The guitars are never overly blaring, and most of the music is lo-fi enough to attract discerning indie listeners. Perhaps on its next venture, Used Alien Mind might think about a proper producer -- the results could be outstanding. (DAC)
(Zonked Records -- 4925 Franklin Ave., 16A, Des Moines, IA. 50310-1913)