The corporate art of punk rock

By Greg D'Avis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Face To Face

The Big Choice

A&M/Victory Music

If you hated Green Day, here's something you can really despise.

Face To Face play upbeat hardcore in the manner of, oh, about 20,000 bands emerging over the past few years. They are not terribly offensive, but there is nothing to make them stand out at all (aside from a major label deal). While Green Day at least has some variety to their songs, EVERY SINGLE SONG on The Big Choice sounds exactly the same.

The vocals are believe it or not done in that snotty punk-rock manner, but it's sort of a winsome snottiness. It's sort of like the singer is saying "I was born with

this horrible snotty voice, but I'm really a nice guy."

Meanwhile, the stuff he's singing about is even worse the lyrics are in the "Gosh, there's a lot of bad stuff in the world, but if we're all good people we can make it better!" vein. Vomit. The whole thing is naive and non-threatening the punk equivalent of vanilla pudding.

But in the end, it really doesn't matter, because no amount of bad reviews are going to keep the baggy-pants crowd from scarfing these up.

Orange 9mm

Driver Not Included

Eastwest records

Here's a shining example of the reverse of the sophomore jinx. The 1994 debut EP from this NYC quartet was primarily dull, but Driver Not Included is an early candidate for album of the year.

A lot of the improvement can be credited to decent production. The last release had an uneven mix, with diluted vocals and guitar, but the new album brings everything together.

Orange 9mm look good from all angles. Vocalist Chaka Malik works hardcore, rap and funk together, guitarist Chris Traynor varies between melodic and psychedelic, and Davide Gentile and Matthew Cross put together the best rhythm section this side of the Jesus Lizard.

There's a good variety of styles here, but the key to the album is that despite the diversity, the band doesn't get too wild for its own good. I never thought that funk and hardcore could mix anywhere other than the deepest pits of hell but Orange 9mm is one cohesive unit, and the interjection of funk and rap comes across well, rather than as just another Rage Against the Machine rip-off.

The best of the 12 tracks here are "High Speed Changer," "Guyatone" and "Thickest Glass." "High Speed Changer" is furious, jumpy hardcore, "Guyatone" is sort of loopily melodic and "Glass" is so damn catchy that you won't be able to sit still while listening to it.

This has the potential to be big, and Orange 9mm deserves it. Get on the bandwagon.

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