Produced by punk rocker Mike Watt of Minute Men and Firehose, this Southern California group’s debut effort is tagged eclectically as appealing to fans of dancehall, reggae, country, hip-hop, and/or pop music. Bargain Music’s 77 003 is certainly a concoction of sounds, but not the smoothest. If you like odd, just missed alignments, then this record is for you.
Besides Mike Watt, several guest performers are featured on 77 003, including H.R. from Bad Brains. Comparing itself to Sublime, the band features one member, Josh Fischel, who co-directed a documentary of and several videos for that group. So some of the folks involved have talent, but most of the tracks are one step off.
Phrases scattered over one side of the CD jacket are the closest I got to lyrics. Since it’s difficult to hear the words from the songs, I can’t say much about their content. Just to give you an idea, though, here are a few featured lines that the group provides: “STEADY BALLIN’ TORK!,” “CONSTIPATOR,” “GAYBAR MUSIC,” “WHERE THE HO’S ARE,” “THE FAT GUY AT THE FOOTHILL,” “HO’S AND MOJO,” “BASSBALLS,” and “THE WRATH OF MAN BITCH.” Make that one big step off.
Except for “Spittin’ In The Mic,” “Long Beach Millenium,” and “Lifeless Wandering,” which work a typical reggae beat, the songs feature sounds that collide disjointedly. “It’s Called Fucking” sports a sugary ‘70s guitar riff and organ at the start, but then slides into some sort of Dave Matthews thing. “I Can See Clear” rips off Tricky and later “What Do You Do?” features rap awkwardly placed over a reggae back beat. “Percolator” gets on with horns, acoustic guitar, and blues vocals, but quickly turns a corner, crashing into electric guitar grunge rock. “Lip Liner” has a chopsticks start with an acoustic and electric guitar, backed faintly by a horn, putting this song into some sort of lounge space. “Colostomy Bag” speaks for itself with a beat that’s a mix between country and ‘50s rock with Elvis Costello-style vocals.
There are no slick combinations here, just plenty of grooves skipped—but maybe you’re into that.
// Notes from the Road
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