By Greg D'Avis
Arizona Summer Wildcat
The nomads of hardcore ─ Shadesapart ─ return with their fourth album on their fourth label (the other three went under), and finally hit their potential.
For years, Shadesapart have released solid, but forgettable, albums that shows sparks of brilliance but ultimately get bogged down. Save It, however, is catchier and more driven than previous releases, making it a keeper.
On other albums, Shadesapart would get caught in a rut and the songs would wind up indistinguishable from one another. Now, though, they vary tempos and moods, and the songs that do drag on this album are nicely counterbalanced. "Menace," "Weight of Years" and "September Burns" are the album's best tracks ─ aside from the cover of Softcell's "Tainted Love," which makes a damn fine hardcore song and deserves a nomination for best song of the year.
Give Save It a chance. Let it into your heart. It won't let you down.
4th and Back
Hissanol features Andy Kerr, formerly of Nomeansno, a pedigree that normally would make this an automatic winner in my book. Unfortunately, 4th and Back gets caught up in its own cleverness and never really does justice to the talent involved.
Kerr still has the Nomeansno stylings ─ the vocals sound exactly the same, and the quirkiness of everyone's favorite Canadians crosses over.
Unfortunately, while Hissanol incorporates millions upon millions of influences ─ punk, jazz, classical, chants ─ the one thing missing here is soul. It's interesting on a purely technical level, but it lacks anything to move the listener.
Fans of experimental music will probably dig this, but the rest of us will have to wait for further releases before converting.
The Denison/Kimball Trio
Skin Graft Records
Here's an interesting combo of styles: Duane Denison, guitar god from psycho punks the Jesus Lizard, and Jim Kimball, whose resumé includes blues/punk groups Mule and the Laughing Hyenas, team up ─ to play lounge music.
And the result isn't bad at all. The talents involved are high level, so they could probably tackle any style with success, and the subdued jazz of Soul Machine prove that Denison and Kimball ain't no one-trick ponies.
It's a little jarring to hear the same guitarist who gave the world Liar and Goat play slow, relaxing stuff like this. I mean, I'm not doing any air guitar ─ this is much more suited to background music while I read or eat or whatever. But that's hardly an insult. I'm not a big fan of the lounge music revival trend, but Soul Machine is good enough to overcome those prejudices.
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