Pure Acid Park
Alternative Tentacles Records
Ah, "Pure Acid Park" ... the phrase stirs the brain, creatinga surreal spiral of color, sound, touch, and, yes, even taste (sorry, at the moment my sense of smell is shot due to allergies). As the music washes over me I feel the 8-track player of memory retch into life; long forgotten conversations surface as the freshly greased, poly-urethane continuous loop of existence pauses, clicks and rolls on.
"You can't get pure acid (LSD for those of you who think you know who you are) anymore," lamented my restaurant co-worker as he flipped his Grateful Dead tape and tried to instill as much Jerry as possible into the sandwich he was making.
"Bullshit," chimed a dishwasher, "my brother makes it in our bathroom." And so the work day passed.
What does this have to do with the new Alice Donut record? Nothing.
... START PROPER REVIEW HERE ....
This latest effort from one of New York's finest is a bit tamer than previous offerings, but still embodies the raw edge pop qualities of 1992's The Untidy Suicides of Your Degenerate Children." The high pitched sardonic vocals of Tomas Antona are beautifully offset by rambling trombone and banjo breaks that bring to mind Kermit the Frog crooning away on his lily pad as little swamp creatures gather to sing along. Groove oriented, heavy guitars fuel this album, but the pop aspects save it from becoming dull or repetitve.
Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of filler on this record, little two minute ditties that seperate the more serious ventures. "I Walked With a Zombie," a happy sing along featuring the un-dead, invokes visions of a heavily lip-glossed Marie Osmond getting down during a risque Donny and Marie Halloween Special.
The "alternative" emphasis track, "Lost in Place," is amusing in the way it fuses many of the cliche characteristics found in alternative music, mocking the current trend that the big music industry is trying to shove down your throat (with much success, I might add). Will it be amusing on the tenth listen? I doubt it. There are eight tracks on this album that make it worth buying, and hey, you might chuckle at the others on the hundredth listen.
Cherished reader, as your humble servant in print, I encourage you to purchase Pure Acid Park and play it for friends and family alike. If you have any reservations concerning my recommendation, I suggest that you visit your nearest interactive record store and ask them to play it for you. If they won't, spit on the floor and walk out.ŸM.R.
Knocking the Skill Level
There comes a point of saturation Ÿ when "alternative" becomes ESPN Jock Rock and "quirkiness" is synonymous with run-of-the-mill. Arriving about two years after that point became a steady plateau is the San Diego-based alternapop band Heavy Vegetable.
Their second album (as of yet untitled), slated for release any day now on Headhunter Records, is a hodge-podge of everything that is wrong with independent music today. Idiosyncratic lyrics about things as random and wacky as spatulas, odd timing changes that less throw you off than grate on your nerves, and song titles such as "Mushroom Boy" and "Jackie Chan is a Punk Rocker." It all screams of stereotypical indie rock clichÇs... intelligent kids who let their humor and eccentricity outstrip their music. While they purport to wear their influences on their sleeves Ÿ the lyrical nods to Captain Beefheart, Slint, Frank Zappa, the Residents, the Velvet Underground and Devo in the song "Radio" Ÿ their music sounds more like a marriage of equal parts Velocity Girl and They Might Be Giants.
These Heavy Vegetable people... they play nice music. They sing real good. But this album is a twenty-seven song empty calorie binge. It's college rock dressed up as an indie band, the Munsters posing as the Addams Family, and I don't want to even try to imagine what sort of factors facilitated their naming the band Heavy Vegetable.
Faring somewhat better, at least by comparison, is the sophomore effort from Heavy Vegetable labelmates Garden Variety, Knocking the Skill Level.. I swear I'm not making these names up. Often and inaccurately compared to Husker Du (they're more akin to three of four individual songs by Husker Du than the band as a whole), this New York- based trio seems to have some potential. However, I can't remember a single song on the album.
Garden Variety have a good, solid sound that doesn't fall into the "emo-core" or "power-pop" trappings of their peers, and they're competent musicians in many respects. So where are the hooks? Vocalist Anthony Roman has a good voice but can't write more than two vocal lines, and each song follows a similar progression: verse, verse, verse, long instrumental break. They need to hone their chops and quit playing such easily pigeon-holed music. So do Heavy Vegetable, and so do you. Semper `Fi.ŸT.D.
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