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I Object, Jolie Holland, Pearl Jam and more..

Music review - 5.24.06 

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I OBJECT
Teaching Revenge
Blacknoise/Alternative Tentacles

The forever-on-the-road punks in Rochester’s I Object wear their DIY hearts out on their liner notes. Professing to play all-ages shows put on anywhere by punks in the liner notes of the new CD, Teaching Revenge, the quartet furthers the punk-rock work ethic by shunning bar codes on the actual product. Teaching kicks off loudly with a quasi-Iommi grind before exploding angrily in double time. The band’s viciousness is made even cooler by metal riffs throughout. Vocalist Barb is the quintessential pissed-off punk as she shrieks and rants through the album’s 16 songs in throaty, rapid-fire bursts. I guess you can’t really call it old school punk, ’cause it’s still happening today with bands like I Object. Just dig cuts like “The Reals,” or “Sick.” I Object is for real, legit, and righteous as hell.

--- Frank De Blase

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JOLIE HOLLAND
Springtime Can Kill You
Anti

San Francisco chanteuse Jolie Holland writes music that can be best described as folk noir; music she once described herself as “new-time old-time; spooky American fairy tales.” Springtime Can Kill You is Holland’s third trip down bittersweet street to lonesome and lonely Americana. Her sultry voice occupies a narcotic, narcoleptic twilight while the understated music stirs beneath frequently waltzing or staggering-about, off-time jazz with a hauntingly romantic limp. Her melodies are sung sorrowfully and somber like a lullaby carried by pallbearers. She’s Tom Waits if he were beautiful. This is about as mellow as it gets before approaching despair. Holland comes close, but it’s funny how much lilting joy can be found so close to gloom. Holland’s lyrics are simple tales of “crazy dreams, mockingbirds…springtime can kill you,” she says. “It’s a pilgrim’s progress through the horrors of lust…interspersed with songs of true friendship.” See?

--- Frank De Blase

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FAITH NO MORE
You Fat Bastards/Who Cares A Lot?
Rhino Home Video

Essentially a repackaging of two previously separate releases, this double-DVD set should be required viewing for mooks under the impression that Limp Bizkit and Korn invented rap-rock, as well as those who assume that Faith No More’s career began and ended with their 1989 breakthrough hit “Epic.” In the serviceable You Fat Bastards, recorded live at Brixton Academy in April of 1990, FNM replicates nearly the entire The Real Thing record in front of an enthusiastic British audience, throwing in a couple of the better-known tunes (i.e., “We Care A Lot”) from FNM’s early days and amusingly dating itself by including snippets of Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” and the New Kids on the Block hit “The Right Stuff.” But Who Cares A Lot? is a significant gem, featuring 18 FNM videos chronicling the musical maturation of an unpredictably diverse band, most notably vocalist Mike Patton’s satisfying evolution from post-concussion marblemouth to charismatic and stylish frontman. You’ll take pleasure in the high-concept polish of “A Small Victory,” the drag-tastic Commodores cover “Easy,” and the Vertigo homage “Last Cup of Sorrow,” even though you probably don’t need to see that gasping fish again.

--- Dayna Papaleo

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THE BOTTLE ROCKETS
Zoysia
Bloodshot

The Bottle Rockets play truly believable blue collar rock ’n’ roll. And the collar’s as worn and greasy as the guitars are twangy. The St. Louis quartet plays haphazard barroom rock that hints at any number of roots, especially country with songs sung in an “aw-shucks,” Crazy Horse kinda way.

The band’s new Bloodshot record, Zoysia, has the group strumming distorted guitars beneath frontman Brian Henneman’s reedy croon. The band rocks steady and seems suited for nights spent scootin’ on the sawdust, fueled by perhaps one too many cervezas. Henneman exudes heartbreak in his “melancholy trousers and masochistic shirt” on cuts like “Happy Anniversary,” stubbornness (“when I drink I drink/when I quit I quit”) on “Quit,” or exasperation over human ignorance on the track “Blind,” where he asks “Could our own two eyes be our own worst enemy/If we all were blind I wonder what we’d see.” First-rate American roots rock ’n’ roll.

--- Frank De Blase

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PEARL JAM
Pearl Jam
J Records/ Sony BMG

Did becoming the biggest thing on the planet upon its 1992 debut impair Pearl Jam’s sense of identity? We’ll never know, but the band’s subsequent experimental streak sure did seem contrived most of the time, suggesting an acute case of chronic self-consciousness. By its sixth album, 2000’s Binaural, Pearl Jam had finally calibrated itself and found a way to make its experiments sound natural. Now, with its eighth effort, Pearl Jam drops its experimentation --- and guard --- completely in favor of stripped-down rock. It works like a charm. For instance, you can barely tell how a recent live-in-the-studio video clip is different from the album version of the same song. Pearl Jam does present twists, turns and variations in texture, but --- thanks largely to ex-Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron, a master of complexity-in-disguise --- Pearl Jam finally sounds like a band comfortable in its own skin.
--- Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

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NEKO CASE
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Anti

The moment I first heard Neko Case, I fell in love. Not necessarily with her, but in love nonetheless. Little hearts floated around my head like mosquitoes. She has the most incredibly distinct voice --- full of ethereal majesty, power, and goose-bumped wonder. Case initially landed within honky-tonk confines before soaring up to Owen Bradley countrypolitan sounds and beyond. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood has Case’s band (members of The Sadies and Calexico) twanged out in the lush reverb and lonely vistas her songs paint. Lyrically she’s as abstract as ever with all the stories unfolding eventually. It may take a couple of spins, but it’s certainly worth it. Both haunting and soothing, her voice and lyrics cascade both omnipotently and omnisciently. The voice of God? He wishes.

--- Frank De Blase

 

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