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Divit


Broadcaster


[Nitro]

The quartet known as Divit hails from the town of Antioch, just northeast of the punk rock kingdom of the East Bay. Their latest release, Broadcaster, takes us along for the ride, away from the Bay, to a place not quite so punk.

"Driven," the opening track, begins with the barrage of harsh distortion and driving beats expected from a Nitro release. Then, within the first few seconds, the noise gives way to dreamy, phased-out guitars and self-conscious vocals.

Along with the rest of the world, pop-punk has been eaten by Jimmy-and this is the product. The record continues on this same downward spiral, slowly plucking the sharp teeth out of guitar tone and subject matter alike; moving from "William," a haunting track about a friend's struggle with drugs, to "The One That's In The Green Shirt," about a hot girl in a green shirt.

Broadcaster plays like a testament to the slow death of punk at the hands of non-descript alternative rock; starting with Plan B, a revamp of the Misfit's rock-&-roll-plus-murder-equals-marketable- irony formula, and ending with "Violet," a song which may just as well have been recorded by the Rembrandts.

Sure there are some flashes of originality amidst the radio-friendly mush (for instance, the opening riff to Tomorrow) but a lot of this material has been covered before. This album is far from outstandingly creative, but the fact of the matter is: I can't get these damn melodies out of my head.

David Somlo

The Disco Biscuits


Senor Boombox


[Megaforce]

Although unusual combinations can be surprisingly good, (think Queen and David Bowie) they can also have pretty dismal consequences (like that peanut butter and pickle sandwich that seemed like a good idea at one o'clock in the morning).

Such bizarre concoctions reverberate in the music of the Philadelphia band The Disco Biscuits, who offer a strange, unorthodox blend of musical genres. A fusion of jam-band rock and trance/electronica, The Disco Biscuits (or as their fans like to call them, Bisco) mingle guitar, drums, bass, and progressive digital beats on their fifth release, Senor Boombox.

Their attempts at sounding like a grassroots jam-band go awry, as mellow guitar riffs end up being repetitive and bland rather than catchy and funky. Likewise, the electronic underpinnings of Senor Boombox seem misplaced, and ultimately give the album a sugary, spacey sound that quickly wears out its welcome. Add in lackluster vocals and forgettable lyrics such as "bake a cake/ sugar cane sweet/ frosting pink and sticky/ eat it up/ finger lickin' good," (from "Sound One") and Senor Boombox becomes an album that is several jigsaw pieces away from being a complete puzzle.

Although The Disco Biscuits may learn to more successfully mesh their sounds in the future, the overall lack of substance coupled with a cluttered musical style on Senor Boombox make them seem more like Disco Croutons than biscuits.

Elisa Jacobs

Queens of the Stone Age


Songs For The Deaf


[Interscope]

I'm not sure whether this album is supposed to be conceptual or if it just happened to receive its title after the band listened to the final mix, but one thing's for sure this sucker is loud. The title has to be some sort of a sick joke, because if the deaf actually were to listen to it, they'd probably end up blind and sterile, too.

On their third album and first following the critical success of their sophomore set Rated R, Queens Of The Stone Age churn out a note-perfect sound lovingly described by guitarist Josh Homme as "robot rock." The appelation is fitting-the tempos are steady and precise, the volume is kept at a relentlessly high level, and all pretenses of subtlety are totally absent, because honestly, what kind of pathetic human would you have to be to care about things like that?

The songs all come from one distinct breed-walls of overcharged guitars grounded by high-speed, pounding drumming courtesy of former Nirvana stick-man and current Foo Fighters prime mover Dave Grohl. "First It Giveth" is probably the strongest track, matching amusingly pretentious Biblical pronunciation with flamenco guitars.

This unvarying sonic attack grows a bit wearying over the course of the album's hour-long running time as the songs begin to resemble bad Pearl Jam more than anything actually worth listening to, but in the end, the band's sheer enthusiasm makes up for any shortcomings that might impede one's enjoyment. This is assuming, of course, that you can hear it.

Rich Bunnell

Sleater-Kinney


One Beat


[Kill Rock Stars]

In the high western woods of Olympia, this is the sound wiccan nuns dance to. It is the fiery spirit of surfer rosa alive and undaunted. Resurrected through boisterous riot grrrl garage punk rock.

These rowdy rockettes respect the female vocalists of the 80's and their brutish coy playfulness. Vocally, cross Four Non Blondes and the Distillers and add the punkish raspy fire and you might get close. The sound they make is actually pretty fresh, if there is such a thing. Their voices come together like a trio of epileptic seizurists who have gotten it right.

Besides the vocals, the thrust of this music is through their melodies, many of which are horseriding calls for triumph, unlike the usual scrawl and screwdiddle whiny Modest Mouse emo stuff. This is distinct-it's music that you can tap your feet to and music that can make you angry about things at the same time.

The lyrics are apocalyptic and reflect the angst of trying to incite a revolution in a time of overwhelming technology and apathy. In the song "Combat Rock" she sings in biting political commentary about war, "Let's break out our old machines now./ It sure is good to see them run again/ Oh gentlemen start your engines/and we know where we get the oil from." And sets it up with great style, to the continuous mock patriotic march beat.

Just when the album's sound seems predictable, there are defiant, but welcomed, little quirks in the style. This continues right up to their last song, which actually could be mistaken as a traditional electric blues rock ballad. Sleater-Kinney does not cease to amaze. They are moving away from the Bikini Kill-ish straight punk sounds of their earlier releases, and going straight ahead and forging ahead in their own bristling layered garage sound. This is truly a progression-and a portrayal of their full potential.

Rishi Malla

Tegan and Sara


If It Was You


[Vapor]

Finally, Canada has something to be proud of in the music department-Tegan and Sara, indie-folk-rock hipsters with enough pout to rival Christina Aguilera, yelps to back Bjork and enough Ani DiFranco-angst to fuel a hungry nation of freshly-dumped ex-girlfriends.

Throw in dashes of early-90's Cranberries and hook-laden melodies pretty enough to paint a Mazzy Star picture with, and behold the duo's latest slab of estrogen, If it was you, a slightly refreshing detour from the traditional angry female-rock collective.

"Time Running," the disc's kicker track, is like a two-minute-long teaser of some of the pair's best assets (and no, not those kinds of assets)-pounding drum beats, crunchy guitars mixed in with the camp-fire quality of acoustic strings, and sincere, albeit abrasive, vocals about healing open wounds of the heart.

In contrast, the album's stand-out track "And Darling" shows off a playful, cutesy, almost Lolita-esque nature that only a pair of just-turned-drinking-age twins could capitalize on.

The album falls flatter into pop blandness on tracks like "Want To Be Bad," a mediocre quasi-ballad drowned out by directionless acoustic guitar chords and pretentiously whiny vocals about adolescent rebellion.

Overall, If it was you renders applause-worthy appreciation. Some tracks leave skin raw with unabashed emotion, others serve as that soothing aloe vera for the scratch, while the rest sit complacently somewhere in between.

Altogether sincere, Tegan and Sara make it a point to be honest and genuine in their work. The best part? You won't feel so corny for actually believing them.

Audrey S. Yap

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