CD Releases From the Heart

A very special Radar Station

CD release parties are like "very special" episodes of sitcoms. That is, they aren't as special as people would have you believe. Sure, it's a big deal for the band; they don't put out that many CDs. But there are 9,231 bands in the St. Louis metro area, so it's a bit difficult to get worked up every time a band puts out a new disc.

The Phonocaptors are a little different. They've been rocking St. Louis for oodles of years, and their new disc on the Lou's own Pro-Vel Records is reason enough to celebrate. So last Thursday night I headed down to Lemmons to check out the party for Call It What You Want.

The 'Captors have been tunneling into the belly of rock for ages now, and Call It represents a startling change in direction for the band: With shimmering overdubbed strings, vocoders and classical song structures, the Phonocaptors have created a thrilling concept album about the death of God.

Okay, I'm just kidding. The Phonocaptors haven't changed, and that's a good thing. Garage bands like the 'Captors haven't evolved for the same reason they're still pulling Paleolithic fish from the sea: Sometimes big and primitive works just fine.

Which isn't to suggest that the 'Captors don't know how to play their instruments. The songs only feel sloppy; underneath you can hear a band exercising supreme control. These guys are rock & roll veterans.

And this might be why they sounded even better at Lemmons than on disc. While Call It is plenty greasy and propulsive, a few tracks recall the polished sound of the Strokes, and even though the 'Captors have been around far too long to deserve that comparison, you can't fight the cultural Zeitgeist.

This stomping rock sound is all the rage right now, but its simplicity makes it all that much harder to pull off. The Phonocaptors sounded even better when compared to the Bloody Hollies, who came on after the 'Captors (who wanted to enjoy their own party). The Hollies had a bit more 'billy in their rock, but overall their high-octane rock was a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing. Songwriting often gets dismissed in the trenches of rock -- throw together chords and words that sound good and that's enough, right? But the Hollies revealed their weakness when they kicked ass with a cover of the Undertones classic "Teenage Kicks." The Phonocaptors don't need covers to kick ass, and I hope their ageless rock sticks around a little longer.

Really, Nelly and the St. Lunatics! This week I got ahold of the "Tip Drill" video that's running on Playboy TV's Buckwild program. In the video Nelly and the gang are surrounded by big-bootied ladies shaking their stuff in a mansion. I know, it sounds like every other rap video known to man. But these ladies are naked. More naked than normal. Very naked. Really naked.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like naked ladies just fine. But maybe, just maybe, the sight of a bouncing vagina is just a little bit, I don't know, distracting. Of course, it distracts from lyrics such as "Must be your ass, 'cause it ain't your face," so it's not like you're missing a lot.

This is just run-of-the-mill misogyny, pretty typical for rap since the glory days of 2 Live Crew. It's just that we've been sold a sweet-guy image of Nelly, so it's a bit disconcerting to see him slide a credit card down the crack of a woman's ass (a maneuver henceforth known as the "de-butt card swipe") -- although I've always maintained that the chorus of "Hot in Herre" shows Nelly using the old Jedi mind trick to seduce a woman, which is certainly using the dark side of the force. Maybe on Nelly's album this summer, he'll be revealed as a Sith Lord ready to destroy the universe.

Man, that would be so cool.

But the chances of an Emperor Palpitine switcheroo are pretty slim. Nelly's going to have to use the force to pull off a sucessful follow-up to Nellyville -- he beat the sophmore slump like a red-headed stepchild, and that just raised expectations for this summer's LP. The remix album that spawned "Tip Drill" was a drag, and Nelly has some hometown competition from Chingy and J-Kwon to deal with now.

Just a bit of advice, Nelly, from one dirty to another: Leave them naked ladies alone and get into the studio. Oh, and a little advice to local merchants -- have Nelly pay in cash. You know where that card's been.

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