Press enter after choosing selection

"the View From Nowhere"

"the View From Nowhere" image
Parent Issue
Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held By
Agenda Publications
OCR Text

The brand new Restroom Poets selftitled CD and the "Skillet Records Presents: Sounds of Ann Arbor" compilation of 12 tunes from six local pop outfits, are both perfect examples of how some local rock and roll bands will be part of the soon-to-be massive wave of national attention and how others will be doomed to the trash heap of musical history. Great rock and roll, like all great art, takes soul, smarts and guts. And I don't mean Motown, a PhD., or stupidity masking as bravery either (though these things work quite well at times). Nothing ever happens by playing it safe, and these two new releases are textbook examples of both ends of the scale. The folks at Skillet Records do deserve credit for putting "Sounds of Ann Arbor" together. A collection of music from so many different groups, with all the artistic ideas, egos and various financial and technical roadblocks involved, is a major feat in itself. For that, this locally run label should be praised highly. But the six-band CD (with whirlingRoad, Kiss Me Screaming, Lucky Haskins, the impatients, The Melba and The Lollipop Guild) plays it SO safe; it's like drinking milk or something. The truth is painful sometimes, and while there is some highly wonderful music here, "Sounds of Ann Arbor" fails as a musical postcard from the town that will be the next: Seattle, Athens, London, New York, LA (piek one). The good things first. The lead-off cut - " Alright" by whirlingRoad - is a classic. With itsgrainyvocals, country overtones, and catchy chorus, not to mention really painful lyrics that beg for redemption, you have no other choice than to sing along alter hearing it once. This tune is made for the radio and the only flaw 1 can see is that it clocks in at over five minutes. Otherwise, it's a perfect tune and should be played on the radio 30 times a day. Kiss Mc Screaming weighs in with tracks from their Schoolkids' collection. "Mutually Assured Destruction" and "Flush" are two of the many sides of the best band in the city: The first is your basic crunchy Rolling Stone riff on a slide into an emotional and relationship gutter and the latter is more overdubbed, lowkey introspectivepop. Unfortunately, themastering here isn't as hot and sharp as the band's own CD. But the two tracks are major-label bait and may wake upsome of the people who are still unaware of the group's amazing genius. One small step behind these three songs comes The Lollipop Guild. Fronted by the saintly vocals and lyrics of Kristin von Bernthal, the band is careful not to fall into the folkishfemale-poet-joins-a-rock-band trap. It IS folkish, it IS feminine, it is POETRY, and it sure is rock and roll. But it's also unique, and real, heartbreaking, and soaring, and sounds like a long-lost private musical diary no one was meant to hear. Both LG cuts are world class, but "Wearing Thin" is the best of the two. The Lou Reed and the Velvets "Live at Max's" CD and the second Cowboy Junkies record are best played at 3 am, when the world is asleep and it's just you and your thoughts. The Lollipop Guild are just as powerful and make me feel the same way - sad, bul somehow uplifted. You should buy "Skillet Records Presents: Sounds of Ann Arbor" for the above five cuts alone. The three bands are writingaboutwhat's in the soul, screaming to get out, and it just so happens this turns out to be great music. Kiss Me Screaming, The Lollipop Guild and whirlingRoad recorded these songs because THEY HAD TO. And this direct connection to what is real makes for memorable, touching rock and roll. For ten bucks it's a steal. But - everything else here isn't as good or as important. Lucky Haskins are young, and teen idols at Community High and all, and lm such they sure can rock a dance floor. But their origináis (from their upcoming "Hop Thai Train" LP), despite their enthusiasm, are lame and sound so far removed from the origináis of Gene Vincent and Cliff Gallup that the boys need to know there's more to great music than readingfashion magazines and watch ing Stray Cat videos. What's that expression... "safe as milk?" Olher cuts, from the impatients, the now deparled The Melba, and even the second whirlingRoad, are timid, second-level recordings with little to say that's from the heart. Maybe next to the other tracks they never had a chance. Each band PLAYS just fine, and the lyrics are ok. l've played this CD maybe two dozen times over the last few weeks and if 1 heard "Under Foot" on the radio, 1 wouldn't remember it ten seconds later. Even "Stars" by the impatients sounds like i t was a throw-away song written in the studio. "Skillet Records Presents: Sounds of Ann Arbor" underscores the fact that this town desperately needs someone to get together a compilation CD to show just how wonderful the local music scène really is. Unfortunately, even with the high points, this isn't it. Which brings us to the Restroom Poets. 1 confess, l've only seen this band once, and that was at Cavajava, so when their debut CD hit my stereo I wasn't sure what to expect. U's so easy to get run over by a train when you're not paying attention. "Restroom Poets," out on the local Harmonie Park Productions label, is - what's the word - AMAZING. I could spend days wnting about the sheer talent and genius, the poetry and the killing-guitar licks, the band's perfect talent for going from a whisper to a scream sonically and emotionally. This is one killer rock unit, with the twin guitar team of Jason Magee and Brad Skinner blasting out solos like it's the end of time. The rhylhmsectionofBenLorenzandBrian Poore is solid as heil too. But. . .that's not it. One minute singer Jason Magee rips his vocal chords to shreds and the next it's almost asigh. Tim Buckley's (Jeffs father) soaring scat rock and roll turns into a Bruce Springsteen smoky barroom shoul at times, and then back to a powerful, siraight-ahead, total original wail. Magee is one smart singer and blends everything he knows into his own thing. One fine rockin' voice. And the Iyrics. . .it isn't easy to wnte SMART hard rock and roll Iyrics without sounding like a smart-ass English major or a total idiot in way over their head, but Restroom Poets pull it off, perfectly. Songs like "Death In Canada" and "Decadence" could stand alone in print and still lose none of their magie or power. There's an overall sadness, an aching that hovers over all the tunes and it's obvious that this is REAL. The recording itself is nice, too. Lots of subtle overdubs, a ringing drum lick, or a ringing guitar add a fullness and complexity to the actual sound without getting in the way. Theentirepackage - recording, songs, performance - fits together soooo well that it's hard to imagine this being a debut. How does this stand in contrast to the Skillet Recording? The Restroom Poets have importantstufftotellus.theyaresmartenough to lake the time to do it right, and they know in order to créate the future, you need to understand the past. Any major label could rerelease Restroom Poets exactly as is and it would stand on equal footing with anything out there by Sponge, Pearl Jam, or any hip, poetic guitar outfit. The Poets go out on the edge, succeed and in the process have made an important recording. Additional note to W1QB-FM: "Sensible Woman" is the first Restroom Poets track you can add to your playlist. It rocks like heil! La la Ia. Don't forget to actually BUY these two recordings now, ok? And, do remember to send more stuff to me at: The View From Nowhere, AGENDA, 220 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, Ml 48104. Or heil, it is 1995, so if you like you can e-mail your comments to me at: MUSIC


Old News