One of the perks of being the nation’s most cutting-edge alternative weekly’s ink-slingin’, iced coffee-swillin’, ace tastemaker is getting the rare jolt that comes from being surprised by promising new bands you’d never have otherwise been exposed to, like these up and coming indie-rock starlets, the Dishes.
Singer Sarah Staskauskas possesses a great voice, good energy, writes some thoughtful lyrics and has starlike qualities. When she and budding guitar-heroine Kiki kick into their fiery, top-notch rendition of the M.C. Boy gem, “Feel It,” you wonder what they’d be capable of with a competent rhythm section and grown-up production. I’m thinking they could someday produce something as catchy, heartfelt and solid as Veruca Salt’s über-listenable “Eight Arms To Hold You” — if only they can summon the courage to abandon all indie-cliché.
Their strengths are clearly when guitarist Kiki Yablon lets loose with James Williamson-style raunchy rock licks (I’m personally not into the “dissonant” yank-yank-yank-yank art-school guitar-style rich kids always use to justify the lack of their own ideas inevitably heard elsewhere on this and every “indie” rock record).
I know there’s much to be said for sisterhood, loyalty and enthusiastic amateurism, but if you wanna rock for real you gotta get a good drummer, that’s just rule No. 1. Good stuff, nonetheless. Visit www.thedishes.com
Gold & Greed
White Noise Models
My current favorites are these sneering, superheavy punk-metal marauders from Finland. Lead vocalist, Henccu Starhag alternates between a suave gothic croon a la Ronald Koal (and the Trillionaires) and a raw, raunchy yowl not unlike Claude from Smack. The Starhags are unique in that the band somehow manages to fuse classic Finnish hard-rock influences like Smack and early 69 Eyes to the brooding gloominess of ’80s mope-merchants like Kommunity FK or the Mission UK; while still staying firmly rooted by guitarist Jari’s Billy Duffy-esque guitar heroics in basic, heavy rock ’n’ roll. For those uninitiated to so much sub-genre referencing, just think ‘Guns N’ Roses meets the Cult.’ Visit www.starhags.com.
Sick of slacker detachment, satellite clones, cultural tourism, recycled fad rock and tongue-in-cheek vicarious living? Sick of “forward-thinking” somewhat guilt-ridden academic-y scribes who’ve argued so passionately on behalf of “sampling” and, ultimately, the brazen wholesale thievery of other people’s works for the past 15 years? These are the many whom you have to thank for this current “popular culture.” Enter Mr. Lemmy (“You know I ain’t no beauty but I know who I am”) Kilmister. Yeah!
Some trailblazers are so indomitable that they probably ain’t supposed to chase fads or change with the trends. Motörhead is still as brutal and ferocious-sounding as any church-burning, splatter-core thrash runts half its age. Lemmy continues to humor himself with stamina and savage grace. I particularly appreciate the meth-metal philosophy lesson, “No Remorse,” that wisely stares into the abyss, scoffs at fear, religion and compromise, and spits in the face of conformity and death. You know what this sounds like — it’s silly, mean and nasty comic-book metal and absolutely worth your while. Real rock ’n’ roll? C’mon down. Check out www.imotorhead.com
“A Journey Into Yesterday’s Pop Culture Madness” #5
While I’m most assuredly sick of the ongoing commodification of all my teenage memories exploited by all one-hit-wonder compilations and car commercials, I cannot help but thoroughly enjoy this mag that waxes ecstatic over the likes of old punk and ’80s New Wave. This particular ish stars Captain Sensible, the Go-Go’s, Steve Severin, David Sylvian, Joey Ramone, and Andy Summers. Check all your hippest area newsstands or e-mail them at [email protected] to order a copy. Bring on the Quiet Life!
Totino’s Original Crispy Crust Party Pizza
Dead-broke losers tired of eating humble pie from the dumpsters behind neighborhood pizza joints, who’re looking for an alternative to ramen, beans and rice or mac and cheese are enthusiastically encouraged to seek out this affordably scrumptious classic frozen pizza. Often on sale for 50 cents each. I prefer mine a little overdone and my freezer’s full of ’em; Keep Frozen — Cook Thoroughly. Knock it back with some Tropi-Coco Sparkling Coconut Soda for a destitute feast fit for an undesirable king. Also recommended: Genuine Faygo Dee-licious Candy Apple pop, 2 liters for less than a buck.
The Big Ka-Boom Part One
While his ex-band mates are cashing in on their wacky, retro, name-brand appeal and disregarding everything that made the Dead Kennedys a significant band once important to many, Jello Biafra continues speaking out and standing up for truth and freedom in a time when seemingly everyone else only wants to sell out and make money. Here’s a punk-rock singer who’s been ceaselessly bullied by the government and blindly complicit “crusty punk” dickheads alike; insisting we’d all be wise to start double-checking what we’re being told, communicating with one another, and organizing to make our voices heard. When White House Mouthpiece Ari Fleischer is making chilling pronouncements like “People have to be careful what they say,” in our free society, Jello says, “They already know who we are. Don’t get quieter — get louder. Don’t hate the media — become the media.” I urge everyone reading this to track down any spoken-word stuff by Mister Biafra and stay informed. Visit www.democracynow.org.
A Tribute to Clichés
People Like You
Spiky-haired sleaze-metal ideally suited for satiating the summertime listening needs of Hanoi Rocks or Buckcherry fans that absolutely oozes everything’s-broken romanticism and the dead-end defiance of tryin’ to hold a shadow’s hand. If you’re askin’ me, this is how it’s done. How can ya not love a guy who sings with all his heart in broken English, “I don’t wanna be the next Mike Ness copy”? The title says it all, really. Surf to www.peoplelikeyou.de.
The cover of Rockrgrl #44 trumpets the welcome return of impassioned songstress, Johnette Napolitano, she of Concrete Blonde fame, who’s regretfully been reading way too many goddamn Anne Rice books throughout the course of the past decade, but when inspired, is capable of channeling songs so emotive that they can make you shudder. I, for one, can’t stand hearing her music in bars as I tend to take songs like “Joey,” so personally that they sometimes leave me in tears. Also worth perusing are a tribute to fallen star Bianca Halstead from Betty Blowtorch; the Genitorturers; and loads of indie-rock generica that just ain’t my plate o’ meat.
Dead End Dream
Forty ounces in a brown bag and pyramid spikes street punk with gang choruses and riffy Chuck Berry guitars and shades of the Professionals. I got a dear and sweet friend by the name of Bloody Knuckles, currently drinking himself to death on SSI, who’ll love this immediately, but still trade it for a plastic gallon jug of watered-down grocery-store vodka before the weekend. I have a feeling this CD is gonna change hands many, many more times. Check out the band online.
Dressed to the Left
New York City’s best band ain’t the fortunate sons the Strokes no matter what the well-paid-off paycheck media keep insisting. Sour Jazz makes real rock ‘n’ roll for grown-ups not prefab youth-culture suckers. Led by Cleveland native Lou Paris who takes a drop-dead smart-ass Iggy Pop approach to clever, deadpan lyrics and co-starring world famous Swedish guitar virtuoso, Gilbert Avondet. This disc is a consolation prize from the rawk gods to anyone who tried to sit through the world’s forgotten Juggalo’s distinctly unlistenable Beat ’Em Up last year. Hit www.sourjazz.com.E-mail Dimitri Monroe at [email protected]