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PopMatters Music Short Takes
our brief reviews of new releases
07 July 2005
Sinai Beach, Immersed (Victory) Rating: 2
Well, you've got to hand it to Southern California Christian band Sinai Beach for at least having the guts to buck trends; after all, it's not every day you get a young metalcore band who goes out of its way to thank America, the Republican Party, and the United States Armed Forces. While anti-Bush sentiment runs deep in the metal community (with Lamb of God's volatile Ashes of the Wake leading the way), there are still the odd right-wingers out there, such as Alice Cooper and Iced Earth leader Jon Schaffer, but to their credit, they back it up with their strong music. Sinai Beach's new album Immersed is the latest entry in what has become an unending parade of cookie cutter metalcore bands on the Victory label, and while the Pantera-meets-Hatebreed sound is as bland as every other kiddie band out there, the sermonizing in the songs always remains tasteful and not heavy-handed. However, it's vocalist CJ Alderson who ruins things completely with a very annoying Glenn Danzing impression during the melodic choruses. It's an awkward fit with this style of music, and his Misfits-style affectations are so blatant, it's hard to stifle laughter. Sinai Beach can sermonize and proselytize all they want, but until they decide to do something other than this insipid kiddiecore music, people will be too busy listening to more original metal acts to care what these guys are prattling on about.
Smoke and Smoke, Love Suffers Long (Frenchkiss) Rating: 4
Smoke and Smoke, as they triumphantly shout on "Into the Smoke and Smoke" don't give a fuck. This new band, featuring ex-members of bass-riffers godheadSilo and gutter punks Murder City Devils, is a minimalist affair. Smoke and Smoke, like godheadSilo, is also strictly a bass and drums affair, but unlike that band's prog-like structures, this time around they keep things short and sweet. The nine songs here get in and out in merely 20 minutes, but as the band insists on in their promo material, this is not an EP. The band doesn't waste any time in the studio either. There are no overdubbed synths or moody string sections to be found here. Cut live off the floor of their practice space, Love Suffers Long exudes a lot of sweat and filth but little else. The raw texture of these songs is almost palpable, but I'll be damned if I actually remember any of the tunes I heard. But what does one little critic like me really matter? After all, these boys don't give a fuck. They don't want to belong to any scene, don't care for fancy studio trickery, and really, they just want to rock. And it can't be denied that they do just that, but by time the last track finishes up, Love Suffers Long appears to be all smoke and no fire.
Sons of Armageddon, The Softest Touch (Colorado Music Association) Rating: 5
If The Softest Touch had come out 10 years ago, it might have been more interesting than it is. However, given that, it's hard not to see that the SoA's mixture of jazz, dub reggae and lot of samples is very familiar. Listening to "Ripe Watermelon" us liable to give you flashbacks to Kruder & Dorfmeister's epochal G-Stoned EP (which was released -- holy moley! -- almost 10 years ago). The one unique element they add ot the well-worn dub-hop template is Kirk Knuffke's trumpet, which adds a suitably melancholy note to the otherwise noodly proceedings. These guys have a nice ear for groove (as on the nine-minute-long "Dubya" and the Lee Perry homage "A Thousand Kisses Deep"), but they suffer from sounding overly similar to too many other groups I could mention, but wont.
Kelly Buchanan, Bastard Daughter (Velver Ear) Rating: 5
After an annoying and needless intro (give it a rest people!) Kelly Buchanan sounds like a woman with an axe to grind, but it's a good axe exemplified by her very good pipes on "Letter in Your Mailbox". Often these songs rely on well-worn melodies, although "No Vacancy" doesn't real go over that strongly despite the acerbic lyric "F-k you I'm fine". It's sort of like Sheryl Crow waking up to find Lance piddled in her corn flakes. "Piggyback Ann" is a punk tune that talks about a girl getting around with okay results. The quirky "Volcanic Lover" is stronger as Buchanan leads the tune down a very solid radio-friendly path. This momentum reaches fruition on the tension-filled "Cocaine" but then hits a wall with the vitriolic "Body Bag" as the Alanis-ish anger comes to the surface and yet far more graphic. The highlights by far are the acoustic "Favorite Jeans" and "Lullaby" as Buchanan relies on her stellar vocals to carry it along. "Gun Or a Ring" is another pleaser, but the uneven nature to the album is its biggest obstacle.
.: posted by Editor 7:37 AM