By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
By Ray Cummings
By Nicholas Pell
Bored Midwesterners throw kegger, bemoan decaying architecture
The Chargers Street Gang
Through the Windshield
As you might (or might not) expect from guys whose previous album had songs called "Tom Waits for No-One" and "The Source Awards" and "Amazing Disgrace" and whose slogan insists, "There's no 'I' in Street Gang," the Chargers' rhythm section goes for twists and hitches and speed bumps, prog and funk, off-kilter drone with guitar chaos seeping and soaring out and thugs hey-hey-heying it up in the background. "No more! No more! Drinking by myself again!": Call the Ying Yang Twins!
It's a sloshed party about fucking up and getting fucked up and fucking you up and fucking, and singer Chris has the howl and yowl and yawp to put it over and rewrite Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin Bout Love" so it's not talking 'bout freedom. He also repeats key phrases several times: "She would not shop alone," "I don't believe in you," "I was dreamin' a lie," "What else is new," "It's all gonna fall apart"this last one supposedly about a new municipal stadium, not a life. Songs fall apart anyway, though, then pick up again after the false alarm.
"2 East" is upbeat: 1965 frug-rock with a soul-survivor bassline and backup kegger vocals and falsetto counterpoint. The rest is mainly industrial wasteland music, Midwestern boredom with urban decay for cover art. The LP title's from a novel "about mundane life in Cleveland," their hometown. Dennis Kucinich would understand, though he might prefer a polka remix.
Smartass Midwesterners take field trip to forest, confront flora and fauna
After the Barn Goes
You could say Red Swan's tales of insane people out in the middle of the Midwestern piney woods are to Warrant's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" as their mid-'80s Wisconsin sludge-blooze method-acting predecessors Killdozer's were to the Charlie Daniels Band's "Legend of Wooley Swamp," but you'd just confuse people so never mind. These Michiganders are the most entertaining new pigfuckers in years anyway, and no wonder the Steve Albini who wrote "Jordan, Minnesota" and "Kerosene" opted to, er, "record" them.
They start with a mysteriously lovely weirdass banjo hoedown, they're fond of Iron John drum circle parts and the rumbling underwater grind that the Butthole Surfers' "Dum Dum" took from Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave," and they've got a real knack for building downturned fuzz riffs into a dragging-corpse-through-dense-forest-wearing-muddy-boots-with-holes-in-soles rhythm that actually moves. Guitar plasma's all over the top, or spoken staccato resembling some Sonic Youth car-crash oldie. Tribute's paid twice to a school board member who set off a bomb in a Michigan grammar school in 1927, killing 45 and injuring 58, to protest his farm being foreclosed to pay education taxes. Plus: Bestiality! Hillbilly baby sacrifice on the peacock range! Christmas tree farms burnt down in revenge for stealing of spouses! Theme song about huntin' snake-eatin' scarlet waterfowl with a frog-catchin' sack! Finale: the best ursine rock from Michigan since Ted Nugent's "Fred Bear."
Aging Australians wish they were bored smart-asses from the Midwest
The New Christs
We Got This!
Sole original member Rob Younger's thin and perfunctory riders-on-storm vocal smarm dates back to Radio Birdman days (see said legends' pretty good 2001 Sub Pop comp) and makes him the New Christs' weak link. Since 1984, their roster has otherwise included pretty much every old Aussie in Down Under's eternally Detroit-obsessed Nuggets-revival milieu, which is to say the marsupials who made the Vines', Datsuns', Living End's, and Jet's hacks possible. Younger piles on verbose verses he never quite puts over (though "Impeachment" despite its promising title is a decent cheated-on song, and somewhere there's a memorable chorus about how old cartoon characters never die).
But this is still one gut-wrenching, ringing if not swinging, twin-guitar record: fuzzy stomps, ominous bwaaangs, Velveteen buildups, a blatant MC5 rip, a raga freakout, but mostly gorgeous eight-mile-high solos carrying the Byrds into stratospheres that the Amboy Dukes and Television and the Wipers and Hüsker Dü used to know, over cheap old organs blasting moonward out of the garage à la the Seeds or Electric Prunes. Four-square rhythm keeps things disciplined, Younger's stanzas provide a frame, and pinnacles are inevitably the cuts given the most guitar time. Result? The hardest-rocking Echo and the Bunnymen album ever, waddaya know.