By Jaime Lees
By Roy Kasten
By Melinda Cooper
By Jeremy Essig
By Roy Kasten
By Daniel Hill
By Chris Kornelis
By Gina Tron
Positive comments: "They bought their ticket years ago, and they're still ridin' the ride," Deckard enthuses somewhat cryptically.
Negative comments: "They're no One Man Army," the moderator grumbles.
Maybe it's the late hour, maybe it's the river of alcohol that flowed unchecked through the proceedings, maybe it's Bound's borderline-effusive liner note thank-you's to "God, Jesus & the H.G.," but Bound's Puddle of Mudd/Staind-type moderate rock wins no converts and in fact causes everyone but the moderator to leave the testing grounds. Still, despite the panel's obvious disdain for their flavor-of-the-month-style corporate rock, Bound wins two votes to GK's four for their song "Breakdown." Gravity claims only its second victory, but it's a hollow one. No panelist wants the Gravity Kills CD, even for free.
Positive comments: "I genuinely like that guitar riff," Pryor tells the rapidly emptying room.
Negative comments: "Can I gong this now? 'Cause it's not going anywhere," declares Davis on his way to the fridge.
So with modern rockers Shine tied with '70s-style punkers Billy Coma, the panel decides to pit the bands against each other in a winner-take-all brawl. Shine's song "Stains" receives a tepid response, whereas Billy Coma's "Fuck 'Em Back" causes the panel to erupt in cheers. "That's some of the sloppiest guitar work ever," Pryor states with obvious admiration. "Yeah, the guitarist can't believe he's playing this," Deckard agrees, playing air guitar right along with Coma guitarist Furious George. Panelists sing along with the "Fuck 'Em Back" machine-gun chorus, and Billy Coma sweeps the voting six-nil. Punk rock, it seems, defies all the odds and still beats better-produced, better-played and better-designed albums -- which proves that in the end, it is the heart and soul of the music that matters, and the Black Panel salutes all those bands who put some in their songs.