In the Red Records
It's generally a safe bet that pretty much any indie musical "product" to come out of Ohio is going to be a keeper. Upon close inspection of that populace's track record, you'll find that the only major embarassment to the state's rich musical heritage of the past twenty years or so has been the spawning of the "tortured mind" of Trent Reznor (and perhaps its peripheral link to Spin editor and recent Guided By Voices addition Jim Greer), but that's easy to overlook considering they've given us a whole slew of groundbreaking and lasting rock & roll legends, starting with the mid-70s Ubu-Eels-Syrene-Pagans axis and continuing throught the "90's Punkers" like the New Bomb Turks, Gaunt, and most recently, Columbus' Bassholes, whose second long-player, Haunted Hill arrived discreetly in record stores earlier this year.
The duo consists of Rick Lillash (drums) and one angry, whiny-ass motherfucker by the name of Don Howland, both Gibson Bros. alumni.
I've read a couple of reviews in the past the liken the Bassholes (that's bass as in ... oh, if you're missing the pun it's not even worth clarifying) to Doo Rag's delta balls, but, while Howland's picking is definitely grounded in the blues, his songwriting approach owes a greater debt to his Ohio punk-rock "forefathers."
Just take a listen to the the stripped down, bile spewing beauty "Cockroach Blues," "20/20 Vision," or the miserable-Saturday-afternoon classic "Christine" (complete with chirping birdies at the end) and you'll find yourself wanting to spit in disgust or kick your best friend in the balls. The epic rendition of "John Henry" is equally satisfying. In fact, the only tune that falls short of the promise of those three songs is an ill-conceived cover of the Fugs' "Grief Bird"- a nice sentiment, nonetheless.
For any overly-suspicious readers seeking the proverbial "inside-scoop" on what the record sounds like...
The instrumentation includes a second, overdubbed guitar on most of the tunes, either augmenting the mainly barre-chord progressions or providing some truly fucked, occasionally out of tune countermelodies; the vocals are pretty loud and up front for a very live-in-your-kitchen feeling; and Lillash is one hell of a manic drummer, mostly kickdrum, snare and rimshot action, and capable of some deceivingly simple rhythmic fuckery- his break in "Christine" ("Forgive my sins/begin again") is especially moving- but sounds best when he's a little more subdued, as he occasionally overpowers the guitar in the mix.
Oh, and most of this seems to have been recorded at home on a 4 track, but if that's enough to warrant your labeling of this fine record as a specimen of the fabricated "lo-fi" genre, you've got a stick up your ass too long to be dislodged by even the most verbose Byron Coley-writ laxative, so you might as well put down this review and go "rock out" to your Rocket From the Crypt CDs.
In a year as lacking in albums as 1995, Haunted Hill was a very welcome addition to my home, and is highly recommended, as are any other Bassholes releases.čL.F.
311 broke new ground with a new musical concoction that included everything from ska and hip hop to reggae-styled vocals and metal-edged guitars. Unfortunately, the new musical territories created back on the eclectic band's debut cd, "Music", have been exploited and milked a little bit too long.
311's latest self-titled and third release has the same vitality as their previous efforts and still manages to get the alternative clientele off their booties. But, it lacks that freshness and groundbreaking spirit that the Omaha natives had dished out before, on "Music" and "Grassroots", their second album.
Nicolas Hexum's rap vocals are about as monotone and outlived as ever before. Songs like "Misdirected Hostility" and the intro track, "Down", are basically clones of the same template used by 311 in the past and it shows on this album. The testosterone-filled track "Guns (Are For Pussies)" is proof positive that Hexum and his banshees turned their melting musical pot into a quagmire of melancholy.čJ.F.
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