Thursday, March 4, 2004
The SCene: Santa Cruz Music
Quilted Fish Records
Like most compilations focusing on local music scenes, The SCene, a release featuring the music of Santa Cruz bands, varies in quality. The album, which is produced by Quilted Fish Records and promoted by local alternative rock station 103.9 “The X,” starts off on a good foot with atmospheric rock from Vincent’s Ear. Other of the album’s many highlights include The Huxtables’ Ramones-like “Kleptomaniac,” Los Dryheavers’ “Corazon,” Nate Bennett’s strangely funky “Deadline,” Vicious Cycle’s “Gone Wrong” and a couple of tracks from The Expendables. On their “Sacrifice Inside” and a cover of Eek-A-Mouse’s “Ganja Smuggling,” The Expendables take the California rock/reggae sound pioneered by Sublime and build on it.
Unfortunately, Epicure’s “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a paler copy of Sublime with some cringe-inducing lyrics. In addition, “So Far” by The Fire Sermon starts off promising before settling into a tired radio-ready rock sound, and “Insert Inspiration” by Jon Michaels is an uninspired singer/songwriter piece.
All in all, The SCene is definitely worth a listen, and kudos to the producers for recording the songs live in the studio. Now, let’s just hope that “The X” comes clean, admits that they broadcast from Monterey, and promotes a CD featuring Monterey County bands.
Sounds of Om Vol. 4
The fourth installment of the Sounds of Om series offers 75 minutes of rare and sought-after 12” mixes of last year’s Om hits. It’s a good collection of Om talent, utilizing material from the latest releases by Miguel Migs to Mark Farina, and with some new rarities dug out of the Om treasure chest and mixed in.
For his part, Fluid keeps the transitions between songs effortlessly smooth, and the whole album plays like a well-delivered club set, starting the groove with the spacey Big City Dub mix of Kaskade’s “Soundtrack to the Soul,” mellowing out in the middle with Halo’s remix of Afro-Mystic’s “Natural,” and bringing up the intensity with Members Only’s “More for the Living.”
Of course, if you’re not in a club, or in the mood to party all night, the über-pop house tempo gets old fast, and as a listening experience, the pace tires out even the most rave-crazed head. In any case, with its roster of A-list Om artists and hot singles, Sounds of Om Vol.4 makes for some pretty solid techno bliss.
Live at the Deaf Club
A treat for the fans of this Bay Area institution, this document features unreleased songs, a second guitarist named 6025, and a slew of weird takes on their familiar repertoire—who could ask for anything more?
Well, all of that looks great on paper, but a few of DK’s truisms remain intact. For one thing, Jello Biafra’s warble, the punk-rock equivalent to Meatloaf, is still very hard to take. Secondly, though they sound beefier with rhythm guitar, it covers up their ace in the hole: East Bay Ray’s amazing style. And thirdly, the unheard, unreleased original (“Gaslight”) is nothin’ special.
Of interest is how straight ahead their ’60s covers were, including a completely faithful “Back In The USSR,” also a concert staple of Billy Joel. And funniest is how a goof “disco” version of “Kill the Poor” is actually less true to the ’70s thump-thump beat than the band’s signature “Holiday in Cambodia,” proving that unintended consequences can be embarrassing. As can unearthed “treasures,” no?