Sound Impression

Every semester around midterm time, I find myself looking for anything to do instead of study.

Unfortunately, I am usually so racked with guilt due to my failure thus far to fulfill my obligation as a student (i.e. all the required reading completed, perfect attendance, papers started) that going to a movie, or simply taking a nap is an unenjoyable experience. To solve this problem, I take care of all the little tasks peripheral to study that otherwise make up my meager existence. I clean my car, I walk my dog, I drink heavily, etc. It was while cleaning my house that I first gave Tanner's Ill-Gotten Gains a listen, thinking that I might escape my "unproductive student" mode by moving a little dirt around the house. It is against this backdrop that I make the claim, "Ill-Gotten Gains is the best housecleaning record I've ever heard!"

San Diego based Tanner has put out an incredible punk rock album full of intensity and angst, 13 songs in 35 minutes. The recording was engineered by Mark Trombino of Drive Like Jehu, who really captured the band's raw sound. Gar Wood's guitar tone kicks your teeth in while Chris Prescott (drums) and Matt Ohlin (bass) pummel your body. The sound is so big it is hard to believe they're a three piece, but there is nothing on this album that can't be pulled off live.

The thing I like most about this album is that there is no filler. The songs are sharp and concise, no going back to a "hook" over and over. They are short bursts of energy that get the dishes washed and the bed made. I was even entertaining the idea of giving the dog a bath just as the album ended. As always, I recommend that you hit a record store up for a free listen while you browse. That is what promotional copies are for.M.R.

Coming from the funky-ass town of Riverside, California, the Voodoo Glow Skulls have returned with their Epitaph debut entitled Firme, and boy does this album rock with vicious hard-core, ska intensity.

I had listened to their first album, Who Is, This Is, and thought it was okay, but this album totally blows it away. From the first song, "Shoot the Moon" to the last "Land of Misfit Toys," the Voodoo Glow Skulls have put together an album that is solid throughout and relentless.

Most of the songs are extremely fast in the beginning, showing Voodoo Glow Skulls' hard-core roots, and then suddenly they switch directions to a slower, groovier pace, and let the horn section show their stuff. Some highlights on this album, besides the hectic song "Shoot the Moon," are the hilarious "Charlie Brown" where Charlie asks "Why's everybody always picking on me?" the power blasting "Closet Monster," and the Spanish song from hell, "El Coo Cooi" in which I cannot make out what the singer Frank is saying, but I still think the song rocks. And so will you.

Also, after listening to both of the Voodoo Glow Skulls' albums, I can definitely tell what a difference Epitaph records makes. On their first album, which is on Dr. Strange Records, the sound quality is not that good, and the vocals are almost nonexistent. The new album, on the other hand, is a must for any hard-core/ska/punk maniac. Besides this, it seems Brett Gurewitz has grabbed the Skulls and taken them under his wing, for he has given them a budget and has allowed them to make an album on a now famous record company. He will give them the recognition they deserve.

Besides putting out one kick-ass album, I have been told many times by my friend Laura that these guys put on one hellacious shindig and should not be missed live. So if you see me in the pit, make sure you give me the boot, and if you are involved in the circle pit thing I will surely give you the boot. For I know how to dance (you know, it's called doing your own thing), and I don't think four old-school dumb-asses running around in a circle is dancing. Well, anyway, I got a little off track, so just see the Voodoo Glow Skulls live, buy the album, and make sure to say hello to yours truly, The Beren (you know, the kid with the mug shot in the paper). I'll be waiting with beverage in hand to say Shalom.A.B.

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