By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Topher Lafata will see you now. On two previous EPs as Gold Chains, he's done his best to keep a straight face while reinventing naturally sloppy booty bass as methodical computer music. (Highlight song title: "I Treat Your Cootchie Like a Maze.") From whence such virility? Must be the throbbing, unsubtle synths and the Aryan marching chants. Young Miss America is his first full-length try at, as the title track suggests, "transforming dancefloors into porno sets." Indeed, the loving is just that rough. Like a laptop Damon Dash, he proposes on "Break or Be Broken" to "pour champagne on your tits/and watch them glisten in the sunshine/right next to your girlfriend's." In "The Game," he teases, "You look so cute in those Gucci boots/Prada skirt wrapped around that Cali cooch." Problem is, Gold Chains raps like he's dangling his tongue out and wagging his head side to side. Worse, though irony apparently informs the project, it's sonically M.I.A. And while his Casiotone reverberations can pack genuine punch, they're obscured by the words, leaving them as a shtick. Sadly, no one's let Lafata in on the joke.
Zeigenbock Kopf gets it, and even though he shouts out Gold Chains in the liner notes, it's clear he's never let the kid listen to his music. 'Tis a shame, for Zeigenbock Kopfactually a side project of San Francisco rocker John Dwyer (Pink & Brown)has perfected the use of the improbable. The second ZK album, Nocturnal Submissions, sounds like Einstürzende Neubauten in a bathhouse. Dwyer recently told the Portland Mercury, "I started realizing that I wasn't liking [my rock] shows because they were all dudes bro-ing down and shit, and no girls were getting in the mix. For that much man-on-man power, [I] had to step over into the German industrial theme, the most manly music of all time." Indeed, Nocturnal is anything but baroque. "The bass is too loud/It hurts," he complains on one track. "I remove my pants/Then my shirt." Unlike Gold Chains, Dwyer realizes that no one's cutting, so it's best to dispense with the fantasy and get straight to the meta-party. "Get Your Dicks in the Mix" essentially repeats the vocoded title phrase ad nauseam as dirty snares march in the background. "To Do List" takes a wry look at the prime directive, spitting "fuck" over and over and over again. Dwyer's sound is calculatedly dirty and undeniably motorized, a fantastic bashment so rife with libido it renders actual copulation a mere afterthought. After all, it could never be this good.
Soft Pink Truth
Do You Party?
Kill Rock Stars
Dwyer might be gay-for-pay, but others are true pink. Take Drew Daniel, one-half of Matmos the electronic outfit as well as Matmos the couple. On his Soft Pink Truth project's Do You Party?, Daniel harks back to the last great era of polysexuality: the disco age. "Gender Studies" splices up microsamples of vintage breaks that shimmer and boogie. It's sultry, but in an oddball way that's only resolved with the final, withered croon: "I wish I was a lady." If Zeigenbeck Kopf aims for theme music for the leather scene, Soft Pink Truth prefers the gentility of Fire Island. Daniel is a deeply accomplished musician (It's true! Ask Björk!), but he achieves less here with more provocative source material than he and his Matmos partner M.C. Schmidt did two years ago sampling medical instruments on A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure. While "Satie (Grey Corduroy Suit)" pulses and expands with Akufen-esque acuity and "Over You (No Love)" meshes the affectations of two-step with a splash of musique concrète for a sublime blend, it's hardly pungent stuff. For all its intellectual promisenot to mention the fantastic cover art, in which a pair of Tom's of Finland drag queens are walking color-matched sinewy man-dogsDaniel never breaks free from his precious, distant paradigm. Not a drop of sweat in sight.
Way less technically skilled than Daniel, and therefore not beholden to those annoying old notions of art, the Gravy Train!!!! massiveChunx, Funx, Drunx, and Hunx (the lone guy)make up in secretions what they lack in vision. On their debut, Hello Doctor, all they can see are girls who like boys who date boys who like girls who date girls who date boys. "Double Decker Supreme" sounds like a ménage between Egyptian Lover, Jeff Stryker, and Peaches: "Two cocks, one pussy/All three pretty juicy." On "Titties Bounce," schoolgirls get naughty ("More! More!/kneeling on the church floor") while Elvira synths heave and huff, and "Gutter Butter" might be the "Area Codes" of anal sex, pleading "up the slit, baby/from all sides, baby" as Elvira synths . . . well, you get the picture. The beat here, as on most of the songs, is basically a keyboard presetwhich is a shame, because if Gravy Train realized what an aphrodisiac sound can be, they wouldn't be catching hernias from all that partner swapping. But with their album checking in at under 25 minutes, at least they come quickly.