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Random Stabbings 31

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Insane Clown Posse, Jugganauts: The Best of ICP (Island Records)
Try as you might, you may not have the right stuff to become a Juggalo, ie a card-carrying Insane Clown Posse fan capable of displaying the proper head-trauma behavior. ICP connoisseurs won’t give this best-of the time of day because it’s comprised only of songs featured in the three Island Records releases, and in fact “real” Juggalos smell a corporate conspiracy – The Man is trying to hijack ICP – but seeing anti-rebel conspiracy in something as corporate as ICP is what Juggalos do. It’s like saying the Big n Tasty is a plot by McDonalds to swindle people who like the taste of real hamburgers.
If you like your rap served metallic and underdone-Beastie Boys style, the poor, downtrodden ICP is for you. In a warped way they’re the Kiss of rap – simple, stupid, constantly complaining about not getting on the cover of Rolling Stone even while racking up gold record awards, stuff like that. “F--- the World” is a good case in point. Everything can just eff off, man, okay, except of course for repetitive, one-idea emcees (who are sort of corporate, if my Hipness Cabal subscription is still current) and any repetitive gangsta-rapper who might have actually held a firearm once.
Meantime, if you want misogyny on the level of River’s Edge, try “B*tches” (guest-babbled by Ol’ Dirty Bastard). Somewhere out there is a badly wired jumbo-sized nimrod who got cut from the football team, and he has a skinny little girlfriend cowering next to him in the cab of his truck. When the inevitable happens, there will be a brief public outcry that will end abruptly when a sober-faced ICP guy blames it on steroids in milk.

Fight, The War of Words: Demos (Metal God Entertainment)
Cynics the world over have long viewed Rob Halford's predeliction for leather, studs and long-haired androgynous guitar boys as proof that there's something snidely comical up his sleeve, that he chortles (and/or lusts) in private over the rough, tough, forked-finger-saluting Sweathogs that comprise his audience. Whether or not that's true, sometimes the coolest things come from jokes, though, and anyone who's ever cranked a Judas Priest album in a car knows that adrenaline boosts don't have to come out of Monster Energy Drink cans. Halford has held the patent on melodically correct maniacal screaming since his Exciter days, and he did indeed deliver on his promise to push the envelope right over the edge with his post-Priest crew, Fight, a conflagration of Defenders of the Faith-level face-melt and -- you know, whatever a baby demon sounds like.
He's got brass ones, too, tell you what. The level of fortitude required for someone to offer up a set of rough demos ("rough" being the debatable part; most indie metal bands would gladly sacrifice nonessential appendages for some of these sounds) as a regulation album would seriously have to come from someone who makes a living by exhorting Hells Angels people to get crazy angry. The best thing about this, though, is that it offers the new generation of rivetheads several angles of sound engineering to try out, automatically making it far more compelling a choice than what your typical Avenged Sevenfold wannabe tends to barf into the void.

Lisa Loeb, The Purple Tape (Furious Rose Productions)
90s geek-pixie Lisa Loeb kills a few birds by including a full CD’s worth of softball NPR-style interviews along with the first-ever digital release of The Purple Tape. One: yes, even she looks back in horror at the white dress with cowboy boots ensembles; second, back in the day, she didn’t know what the word “stultify” meant and she still kind of doesn’t; and three, no, a lot of the time she has no idea what she was singing about either.
But that’s okay; either way she did (barely) survive the collapse of all things grunge with the help of a formula that cauterizes bummer situations with simple girlish wistfulness, not to mention a knack for marketing that almost single-handedly made four-eyed chicks painfully sexy. Purple Tape was where it all started for her, a 10-song demo of unplugged material she sweated heavily over in order to give clubgoers something to remember her by. The big hit here was/is “Do You Sleep” (this is the raw version, a precursor to what appeared on the Tails album), though nearly every song was well-representative of her Ani DiFranco for Dummies approach, which she couldn’t (and still can’t) help; DiFranco didn’t have a gastroenterologist dad put her through Brown University and couldn’t afford to be as scatterbrained as Loeb, thus one woman is for the heavy thinkers and one is for the roller-rinks. But then again, one couldn’t survive without the other, could they?

Black Mountain, In the Future
(Jagjaguwar Records)
Indie pseudo-stoner bands are forever treating your average suburban Zep/Sabbath/GNR listener the way Lucy treats Charlie Brown, pulling the football away just when the potential record buyer is about to take the plunge. There are enough attention-starved critics around who’ll listen to In the Future and feel compelled to snark long and hard about the super-creativity of its Pavement-meets-early-Foghat-ness, and the beat will go on without anyone gaining anything, as in listeners getting a worthwhile album and/or Black Mountain beating the pants off of Wolfmother. The first two songs are rope-ins comprising the music-product equivalent of a mind-blowing trailer for a woefully written popcorn blockbuster action flick: the psychedelitrippy “Angels” is like Darker My Love on Zoloft; “Stormy High” opens with a hint of the “Hells Bells” intro before straddling a riff that could have come from Blue Oyster Cult’s first album and riding off into the sunset with lofty mellotron tones and Stephen McBean’s dully versatile alt-rock singing along for the ride. Then comes the changeup, “Tyrants,” a badly done, sleep-inducing attempt to fit Brian Jonestown, old Floyd and Dinosaur Jr (who, despite their embarrassing posturing these days, have this idea down much better) into the same round hole. Many, many bands are doing this lately, serving chicken fettuccini at the chop suey joint, but I suppose it’s their money, which, thankfully, isn’t bubbling up from bottomless pits.

Patty Larkin, Watch the Sky
(Vanguard Records)
Senior citizen Patty Larkin once wrote a song called “Not Bad for a Broad” to poke fun at the Guitar Player nerds who fawn over her talent, but the Berklee grad’s songwriting – nay, album-writing – sense far overshadows her technical ability. What a rare thing that is, and what a velvety, dense, inescapably good LP she’s submitted in her 56th year. Roll-out track “Phone Message” is a come-hither from the looking glass, a subtle, unplugged guitar hooked up with a sitar to lay down the dharma; a whirlpool opens and you slip in, Larkin’s humble croon serving as both guide and inquisitor. Cut to “Cover Me,” where the eddy’s slowed to a still lake decorated with a single fascinating arpeggio, narrated in turn by long-held notes that feel custom-tailored, the words “cautious skin/so cool this place I’m in” somehow finding solace in the terrifying dichotomy of desire. Comes with its own self-hypnosis routine, too, in the form of “Beautiful,” the word repeated over and over while white puffy chords fold into each other.

--
Outraged ranting, indie label release news and spaghetti sauce recipes are always welcome. Email esaeger@cyberontix.com

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