For about four years, I wrote a monthly column (and the ocassional short feature or cover story) for this national Indie-rock slanted music magazine that paid shit, when they even paid me, and had weird editorial guidelines like not letting writers use the word “THAT” in any reviews or articles unless it was a quote. WTF?
I put up with it for a long time because, even though the pay was next-to-nada, I could use my column to write about almost any CDs I liked and I figured the national exposure couldn’t hurt my profile. With discipline (and rigid use of the “find/replace” feature in Word) I eventually learned to write without using the word “THAT” even when it made no sense, knowing the magazine would just take the word out anyway, indiscriminately, for their own twisted reasons. The thing is, after four years of this bullshit, I just got sick and tired of having my work ruined. Not to yank my own chain here, but I’m a pretty decent writer. I’ve got nothing against an editor tightening up a feature article or fact checking any of my investigative reporting, but — jesus god! — leave a 250 word CD review the fuck alone, will ya?
I resigned from that magazine last month and, along with the day I bailed on AOL, it was one of the happiest recent days of my life. Since they ruined the last column I wrote (and my friend Frank is all over my ass to add some new stuff to this blog) I decided to reprint two of that column’s reviews here. So they could run free…although I think the word “THAT” is still missing.
Mondo Generator, A Drug Problem That Never Existed
The many and varied side-projects perpetuated by members of Queens of The Stoneage progress along their merry madcap way with the release of the sophomore CD from Mondo Generator. As the three-steps -to-the-right-of-Mr-Bungle spawn of Queens’ guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri, A Drug Problem That Never Existed (on Mike Patton’s Ipecac records), provides a bit more of a challenging listen than the latest release from label mates, Tomahawk. Nevertheless, the album is not without its unique and special charm. A Drug Problem That Never Existed reunites Nick and Josh with former Kyuss bandmate, drummer Brant Bjork and QOTSA guitarist Dave Catching, adding a little yin energy from chick bassist, Molly Maguire (earthlings?, Yellow #5). Everyone does his or her best to make this aural trip to the loony bin one you won’t soon be forgetting.
From the acoustic, pseudo-folk ballads (“All I Can Do,” “Day I Die”) to Tazmanian Devil-inspired art punk (“F.Y. I’m Free”) listening to this album made me wonder what the hell was going through the mind of whoever wrote “Girl’s Like Christ,” and just what do the lyrics, “Do the headright, baby” even mean? Stick around after Mark Lanegan’s sublime appearance as guest vocalist on “Four Corners,” for a hilariously deadpan commercial promotion of upcoming Ipecac label releases — which may or may not be a joke. Mondo Generator is mainly a studio project, but the group has been known to play random live dates, including a recent NYC slot opening for Tomahawk. Should the band schedule a live performance anywhere near your vicinity, it is recommended you do whatever it takes to make the show. Co-produced by infamous nut job/instigator of the controversial, Blag Dahlia of The Dwarves, A Drug Problem that Never Existed delivers fourteen more reasons why Rehab is for quitters.
Mensen, Oslo City
Since the apparent disappearance of The Lunachicks and L7, the premature demise of the truly brilliant Betty Blowtorch, and realizing Kittie just plain suck, The Donnas have done an admirable job of spearheading the Chicks Who Rock Like Guys movement. But let’s face the music and dance here: one spin of Oslo City, the sophomore LP from Norwegian garage rockers, Mensen, will quickly separate the girls from the grrrls. Okay, so the band is technically three chicks and a guy –- just like late great British upstarts, Kenickie –- with the inclusion of bassist Rambling Roy. But from the first few seconds of Mary Currie’s bratty vocals and Christine Sixteen (awesome name)’s fierce guitar attack on “Keep Up!,” it’s clear the ladies are running the show. Not to slight the guys at all: Roy’s solid bass backbone and Oslo City’s co-production courtesy of Nicke Anderssen — of Mensen’s GearHead Records label mates, The Hellacopters — add to the band’s serious balls factor. And it’s all good in Oslo City, where the rock slows down once or twice but never, ever stops as Mensen mix and match rock styles with equal finesse. “Bosnia” is as heartfelt and sentimental as a Shangri-La’s tune from the 50’s, while “Piece of My Heart” captures a 70’s punk energy to rival Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown.” With the relentlessly tuneful yet ass-kicking ferocity of “Start Over Again” and “One Way Street,” Mensen revs up the hotrod rock, leaving Sahara Hot Nights to eat its dust.