The Glory Stompers - Ninesixnineseven CD (Knock Out/Cargo)
Weak, amateurish Oi-punk from Canada. This sucks. It sounds like a demo tape, and not a very good one at that. All three of the instrumentalists keep dropping beats (a serious detriment to rhythmically driven music such as Oi!), the guitar is just this shapeless buzz in the background, the singer sounds like he's mumbling gravel-throated through the lyrics. All the songs sound like variations on the same poorly written four-chord number--every high school on the continent harbors at least one band better than the Glory Stompers. The disc's only 32 minutes but I was bored shitless by the end. What the hell was Cargo thinking when they picked up this piece of crap? Jesus. It amazes me that anyone could listen to this and say, "Yeah, that's cool, I really think this'll sell some fucking units." Please, fire the intern that picked this one out of the demo pile. -Aaron J. Poehler
Share The Fantasy--Sub Pop (PO Box 20645, Seattle, WA 98102)
Surely the most common band model around is the four-person group: it's easier to name four-piece bands than the entire remaining variety of choices put together. Just as surely, though, one of the least used combinations around is the hell-bent-for-rhythm lineup of the bass and drums-only duo. North Dakota pair Mike and Dan have been plowing this particular plot of ground as godheadSilo for a few albums now and have developed what was initially a blistering attack style into what is now a blistering attack style wrapped in self-consciously cheesy retro-metal posturings. The humorous stylings of Share The Fantasy include the swords-&-sorcery painted cover (missing only a voluptuous woman in a chainmail bikini and a big 'Boris' signature for authenticity), the mayhem-on-tour collage of photos inside, and the strikingly exact note-for-note cover of Phil Collins' eternal FM-rock chestnut "In The Air Tonight"--distorted, growled and screamed Satan-metal style, of course. Obviously the mainstream music fans aren't going to be beating a path to godheadSilo's door anytime soon, but Primus fans finally getting annoyed with Les Claypool's antics (and you are, too, aren't you?--come on, admit it), Slayer fans who have grown up a little (but not too much), and Melvins devotees would be well-advised to give Share The Fantasy a spin or two.
Gravity Wax - 7" (Audio Information Phenomena)
This didn't look promising: lame band name, cover photo of two tattooed slacker guys looking stoned, posed in front of computerized MIDI keyboard setup under 'Guitar chords' poster, one wearing plaid, the other wearing one of those knit ski caps I hate so much (indoors with a short-sleeve T-shirt--so it's obviously not winter, and therefore a fashion affectation). Plus the label on the record itself is completely blank. I was expecting upper-middle class suburban white hip-hop with lots of "Yo, homeboy, I'm blunted! It's dope fresh fly to the max!"
Well, surprise. Gravity Wax's self-titled EP is actually comprised of four songs that are strikingly well put together, displaying a keen sense of melody; they are arranged somewhat minimally (sounds like they recorded onto a cassette-based 4-track machine), using a limited palette of instrumentation, but never seem lacking because of it, creating a full sound from relatively few elements. Despite those keyboards, most of what the listener hears is guitar, with the exception of "Irrevocably Yours", a lush-sounding (not Lush-sounding) pop number. The overall effect is akin to early Pavement, substituting warmly programmed computerized percussion for Gary Young's ramshackle kitchen-sink approach, and coming along with more than a couple of songs that approach the attractive chiming pop simplicity of "Box Elder". They're not quite to an original sound yet, but they're awfully close for a debut single, and though specific elements are traceable to certain influences (Pavement, British pop, My Dad Is Dead, R.E.M., Paul Westerberg's writing, Television Personalities) they still manage to establish a definite personality and direction with these four few tracks. It helps that the sound is clear and well-mixed, an increasing rarity on 7-inches. Hopefully when they get the shot at a full-length CD they'll utilize the larger canvas available there as well as they've filled this relatively brief sketchbook. -Aaron J. Poehler