Louder Than Bombs

Rather than elaborate on the new material, the band played it straight, and also tried stripping Perfect's majestic "Randy Described Eternity" to its bones. It didn't work: maybe because of the late hour, they just weren't tight enough to make shorter better. The simpler pop of 1994's There's Nothing Wrong With Love came more easily. As the lineup expanded to include Caustic Resin's Brett Nelson, the music opened up. When the band rolled through a suitably expansive version of Perfect's "I Would Hurt a Fly," the fanboys roared with delight. Maybe no one told them it's a bad time to be a white guy with a guitar — Josh Goldfein

Great Escape

Describing something as "escapist" is often a backhanded compliment: it implies a lightweight quality that ultimately can't be taken seriously. But the consistent universes created by Ladybug Transistor and Of Montreal— who played together at the Knitting Factory May 15— parallel grim daily realities. Georgia's Of Montreal goes farther: band leader Kevin Barnes has made up an entire world from what looks like the point of view of an eccentric child heavily damaged by '60s psychedelia. Unfortunately it's a benign, slightly cloying vision of the '60s, untouched by the dirty fingers of, say, the Seeds or the Red Crayola. From Barnes's painted-on mustache to his painfully flat singing, it all quickly wore thin. After yet another pseudonaive song like "Nickee Coco and the Invisible Tree" (complete with band member reading from homemade illustrated book), the impulse to tell them to cut the kiddie crap and turn up the fuzz was overwhelming.

Ladybug Transistor are more successful at translating their otherworldly songs to the stage— perhaps because they actually have songs, not shtick. Their latest album, The Albemarle Sound, borrows heavily from the intricate arrangements and harmonies of bands such as the Left Banke, but never steps over the line from reverence to rip-off. Dashing guitarist-trumpeter Gary Olson not only has a wonderful warm tone but actually sings on key— the vocal interplay between Olson, bassist Jennifer Baron, and keyboardist Sasha Bell (who could single-handedly launch Little House on the Prairie chic with her blond locks and gingham dress) was a source of constant delight. Ladybug Transistor's pastoral vignettes are escapism at its best— and as a way to leave New York behind, they beat a trip on the LIE. — Elisabeth Vincentelli


Poll Position Rock the Vote made a big noise upon its launch nearly a decade ago, using then-feared rapper Ice-T as a battering ram to propel America's youth to vote. But has it lost its way?

According to Rock & Rap Confidential, it has. The activist monthly ran a scathing editorial this past month, accusing the MTV generation's quasi-P.A.C. of Democratic Party ties that are too close for comfort— and perhaps too close to comply with IRS regulations governing political organizations.

"I think [Rock the Vote] was always conflicted between wanting to get kids registered to vote and functioning as an arm of the Democratic Party," says RRC editor Dave Marsh, who wrote the piece. "[Former RTV head] Rikki Seidman told me we had to get together to encourage more kids to vote Democrat— and I said, 'Isn't that like encouraging them to be necrophiliacs?' "

Rock the Vote's current president, Seth Matlins, insists that the organization has no partisan bent, and that roughly two-thirds of the new voters it has registered in the past year have tabbed themselves as "independent." He also dismisses RRC's claim that former Polygram exec Eric Kronfeld remained on the board of directors even after being fired by the company for saying all black men are criminals.

"I took over here last June, and Kronfeld was already gone," says Matlins. "I was baffled by the sheer number of inaccuracies that I could have responded to, had anyone called for comment."

Marsh defends the veracity of the story as published and remains convinced that Rock the Vote won't bite the hand that feeds it— namely the Democratic Party. "It's not a matter of politics," he says. "The people who fund RTV have their economic interests at stake, so I see them getting ready, frankly, to pull down their pants and take it any way Al Gore wants to give it to them." And what of sticker-happy Tipper? "I can't see how anyone could see them as separate entities." — David Sprague

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