Agony Shorthand

Monday, September 29, 2003
TRYIN’ BEFORE I’M BUYIN’….I could probably write reams of text about the RIAA’s decision to sue individual downloaders a few weeks ago, but I’m sure you’ll thank me from refraining. The story is way, way above me – really a classic “Future and its Enemies” case study, something business people, Hollywood types and music fans alike will be referencing years from now. I happen to be one of those folks that HAVE in fact bought several CDs because I took the bands for a Kazaa or AudioGalaxy-based test drive first. Lately I’ve tried a few new artists I was curious about. Here’s what I learned from my illegal, royalty-free downloads!

BASEBALL FURIES “Arch Enemy” and “Get Activated” – I was already a fan of this howling garage punk combo, but hadn’t heard them since their late 90s 7”EPs – what a loss! This is some of the hottest, rawest, ballistic punk aggro since TEENGENERATE. I’m surprised no one nominated this crew as modern heirs to last decade’s garage heroes (Cheater Slicks, Gories, Night Kings et al). I’ve already ordered the CD these tracks come from.

BUFF MEDWAYS “Archive From 1959” – Best BILLY CHILDISH tune I’ve heard in a decade. Cranked-up punk rock with a lot of spit and bite. Not sure if I got lucky with the track I chose, or if this band is the real deal.

CYNTHIA DALL “I Hear Voices” and “God Made You” – Could this be any more boring and amateurish? My mom carries a tune better than Ms. Dall, but she can’t get on Drag City. Former Rollerderby cover star with a SMOG connection – that’s about all I know and all I will ever know, starting right about now.

DANIELSON FAMILE “Good News For the Pus Pickers” – A weird cross between Teddy & The Frat Girls, Cheap Trick and Six Finger Satellite. Either entertainingly annoying or just plain annoying.

HORRORS (various tracks from “Swoop Down” CD) – Very solid In The Red blooze-garage punk, but not amazing enough to rush out & spend some money. Maybe there’s more to this bunch than the first three tracks on this record? Until I find out, I’ll take A FEAST OF SNAKES in a hot Texas minute!

THE KILLS “Fried My Little Brains” – Good skuzzy riffage and lowdown production, mitigated by tired “bad girl” BOSS HOG-style vocals & attitude. Very Amrep 1989!

MISTREATERS “Good Thing” – Smoking Lazy Cowgirls-style thug punk with barking, rasp vocals. I’d definitely like to hear more. Legally!

MUM (several tracks) – This group of Icelandic up-and-comers sounds like an elfin gang of 2-inch fairies and pixies holed up deep in the woods, bent on creating weird yet joyful Cocteau Twins-inspired electronic cut-up music. And as I have a soft spot for both the Cocteau Twins and Kate Bush (don’t tell anyone!), MUM take some of the better aspects of both and update it for our age. I may even now get the CD and pay $18.98 at Tower Records just to prove a point, but I guess I’d still like to hear more – this could be a one-trick dorm room flavor of the month.

STARLIGHT DESPERATION “Messed Up Head” – Also quite good Devo-meets-Clawhammer indie panic/grind. The woman from “the Yeah Yeah Yeahs” likes them; does that mean we can’t?

USISAMONSTER “Dub”, “Trippa Bobbipa” and “Ropetwine” – Skittering, crazed modern no wave that sounds really, really promising. I peg these guys as akin to former Matador underperformers CIRCLE X; strangely obtuse in some places, wild and screaming in others. I intend to follow up with the Load Records executive team and get the full story.