April '04

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Blink 182
Blink 182Geffen

Mature, serious and composed are not the sort of words that are often associated with a pop punk bands albums, let alone a band that‚s made a career of high school humor filled lyrics and videos of themselves streaking. However those words and more easily apply to Blink 182's latest effort. The band steps up with a seriousness that some would think comes way out of left field but feels very much related to guitarist/singer Tom Delonge and drummer Travis Barker's side project Box Car Racer. Perhaps with the success of the dark brooding subject matter on that disc the band realized their fans could appreciate seriousness as much as nakedness.

The subject matter is still rife with sex, love lost, lust, etc. just on a more serious note. The first track entitled "Feeling This" was actually written by Mark Hoppus (singer/bass) and Tom Delonge (singer/guitarist) in two separate rooms and they still wrote about sex. Perhaps all that is adolescence is not lost. Throughout the album chances are taken not only with lyrics but musical arrangement and recording. The tracks are all filled with producer Jerry Finn's trademark personal touches that made the band's album Enema of the State stand out as not just another punk disc. The disc even features an ultra somber Robert Smith, lead singer for The Cure.

The disc being self titled might not have been simply for lack of a better title. Many band's first efforts are self titled and this seems to be appropriate for a new era in Blink 182's career. The album leaves you wondering what the next step for the band will sound like. Who says somber can't be fun? —Justin McBee; Posted 4/2/04

No CoastEudora

Did you know what you get in a web search looking for trivia about Eudora, Kansas? Pretty much jack. Well, now that tiny hamlet can at least say with the greatest enthusiasm that a damn fine band in KC may just make their lil' name a semi-famous word.

Led by guitarist/vocalist Mikal Shapiro (is that a cool name for a musician or what?), this four-, five- or six-piece group (depends on where you see them) has be turning out tunes for awhile and have unquestionably put their unique stamp on Midtown's folk/jazz scene.

Aided by the likes of Gregory Ainsley (guitar/vocals) and Matt Wycoff (guitar/vocals...ok, you get the point), Ms. Shapiro has definitely brought in quite a fine crop of music. From the sax-filled funk (that's "sax", you dirty monkeys) of the first track, "Nine Volt," to the bluesy "Pink Skinny Lady" to the rich, thick strings of "Studio Fuck" (Ha! that's the title, and if you don't like it, stick it in yer ear!), Eudora's newest album No Coast puts some bumps on the flat pancake that is Kansas, and you don't even have to drive down K-10 lookin' for them. —Brandon Whitehead; Posted 4/9/04

Shelter Belt
Rain Homebeltclave

As much as the release of a CD from a white teen pop band from Nebraska might sound like a refreshing change (or, if you're a music critic, the eighth level of hell), there are those rare groups that manage to exceed the sum of their parts. There are some real goodies hidden in their twelve-track album Rain Home and an impressive maturity in their arrangements. Tracks like "Season" and "Surface" would work great as the soundtrack to any touchy-feely indie film, and the mixed vocals are exceptionally strong for...well, a white teen pop band from Nebraska.

If anything, the biggest problem here is that the very same mellow warmth that makes this music appealing also sort of blends it all together, like a hot fudge sundae that's melted just a little too much. Even upbeat ditties like "All These Days" come off as a bit superficial, and the instrumental arrangements are a bit too jazzy at times to fit the candy-cane singing styles. But these are minor complaints for any pop album, which usually just sucks. —Brandon Whitehead; Posted 4/9/04

Modest Mouse
The Moon and AntarcticaEpic Records

This is an album of such unmitigated mediocrity that it is a tedious chore to wade through all 19 tracks. Its only redeeming aspect is to present a compelling example of why the violin should never again be incorporated into art-punk efforts.

This re-release of Modest Mouse's fourth album is intended to herald the group’s next one, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, which should be out any day now. Bad news indeed. Despite critical praise, download available Modest Mouse tracks prior to any purchase; it may allow you to divert cash toward more worthwhile outlets.

Isaac Brock takes a lyrical approach similar to early Dylan; each song witnesses an effusion of words. But his words are bland and his lilting delivery equally tasteless. And since he is the primary noisemaker of the band, wielding the one guitar and microphone, he sets the tone, one which eschews the pop-song standard without finding a palatable substitute. —Paul Smith; Posted 4/9/04

The Von Bondies
Pawn Shoppe HeartSire Records

With their first major release, the Von Bondies appeal to the masses for a mass-appeal that they actually deserve.

The band stays true to its earliest demos with a prominent fret-skipping bass coupled with a blues undercurrent to their straight-ahead riff-heavy alt-rock. Most promising is that frontman Jason Stollsteimer has developed a knack for a quick line, as on the militant “No Regrets”: “Don't be mistaken for someone who cares, oh no I know you wouldn’t dare.”

If Elvis ever hollered more than crooned, then Stollsteimer might have a role model; but alas, his vocal hail Marys are all his own.

Standouts include the restrained blues on “Right of Way” and the early Elastica punk of “Not that Social,” during which bass player Carrie Smith takes lead vocals. But the full-tilt excellence of the skeptical “C’mon C’mon” actually makes the listener feel conflicted: this song could kill on modern radio, but the risk of this track being cheapened by the FM might not be worth it. —Paul Smith; Posted 4/9/04

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