Listening Post

Anyone seen the Simpsons episode in which Sideshow Bob is trying to get out of prison but the parole board is suspicious of his tattoo, which reads "Die Bart, Die"? His explanation: "It's actually German for "The Bart, The.'" Of course the parole board buys it, Sideshow Bob gets out of jail and proceeds to try to kill Bart. The following is not German: Die Symphony, Die. Bland, energy-sucking industrial rock.... When Helmet released their first few singles, they were a dense, furrow-browed punk band, yet they appealed to the metal kids, too. Playground King knows Helmet l; at least the musicians do, but the vocalist, who yelps, roars and, frighteningly, does a lame-metal vibrato thing with his voice, ruins everything.... Yet another brick of energy from Pave the Rocket, one of the most powerful, revelatory live rock bands in St. Louis. "Superfly" races from start to finish with layers of guitars, dynamics and pure inspiration.

Two-thirds of the Boro City Rollers' "Doug's Song" is D.O.A., but then, mysteriously, the ska, the horns l; you know, the boring template l; disappear and the song grows legs and runs on its own merits. That isn't to say the song is a revolution l; it's 10th-wave ska, for chrissakes, so it can't actually be inspired. But a third of it works. The horns are flat, though.... Starnineteen do the minor-chord wimp-out with some lovin', touchin', squeezin' mediocrity about the frustrations of a long-distance relationship: "So many words we have left to say, so much time to spend, so many days." Boo-hoo-hoo. Note to band: Long-distance relationships never work. Just break up with her; she's probably seeing someone else on the sly anyway.... Fuse 12are punk, punk. "Blinder" is a punk song. The hook here makes the song, and it's a beast of one.... If the Mims would bury the vocals a bit, "Anyway" would sound fresh, but when one of the Tims l; which one is a mystery in the liner notes l; starts singing, it's all you can hear. Basic Point rock here, but it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Johnny Magnet have never captured the energy of their live show on tape; Jill Smith's Les Paul sounds, er, different here. But the song, "Feminist Rhetoric Falling on Deaf Ears," is built on a foundation that withstands the iffy production, and that itsy-bitsy hook in the middle is pure genius.... Vallium spell their name wrong, rendering moot any critical appraisal of their art. What does the extra letter accomplish? Please help.... Dan Potthast of MU330 gets clever on us with a song about an oil change, attempting to transform the banal into the profound. It works, though l; relatively speaking, of course. Not bad.

Neither is Purge's "Weight," if you ignore the insipid lyrics. Actually, if most of the bands on Pointessential Vol. 6 were instrumental, this would be a fantastic collection. These people have nothing of interest to say, it seems, sacrificing insight for the cheap, predictable rhyme. Kill the lyricists (and most of the singers), not the songs.... Clear Glass Religion listen to way too much Rollins Band. "Pop" plops. Had it been recorded with more heat, more chutzpah, it could live, maybe, but its quality of life would be quite low.... The Ded Bugs' "Hangin' Out with Danzig" is one of the highlights of the collection, also featured on their recent Sugar Coated Snot Pops CD. It's kinda dumb, but intentionally so; clever without being pandering; and sporting a melody to die for.... Robby Yount has a pretty voice, and this touchin', sensitive-guy ditty is quite the chick magnet l; you're really rootin' for the guy, but the insipid-lyrics tirade most definitely applies here.... You're always rootin' for Rick Recht, who's been gigging around St. Louis forever; alas, his hippified jam-rock is the most grating material on either CD. Of course, my distaste for all things jam-based blinds me to any potential merits within. Pretty much, though, any band named after its principal player l; be it the Dave Matthews Band or the Charlie Daniels Band l; has some inherent problems. Recht earns one bonus point for the yodel, though.

Wait. The most grating song on this collection is, in fact, bar none l; except maybe the Mesh song, or the Die Symphony song, or maybe the Soul Kiss or the Mayflower Jones track l; Top Dead Center's "I Am You Are." Think hard chalkboard scrape amplified, then add an overwrought, melodramatic Ozzy-wannabe lead singer. Oof! Right in the gut!... Do trumpet and rock mix? No, they do not. "I'm blowing senseless bubbles everywhere," My Blue Life sing quite capably. But the melody, or what there is of one, pops immediately, never to be remembered again, except maybe with some soapy residue.

Although a few of St. Louis' finest rock bands are represented on Pointessential Vol. 6, if this is the best the Point has to offer, it's no wonder the station's ratings have plummeted in the last year. (RR)

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