Scene Creamers

I Suck on That Emotion (Drag City)

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Ian Svenonius may have shot his load. Starting with the seminal Washington hardcore extravaganza the Nation of Ulysses, moving to the slightly less seminal punk/funk gospel of the Make Up and then appearing on the pretty much unseminal David Candy and Weird War albums, Svenonius may have run out of, well, semen. His latest band with Make Up and Weird War cohort Michelle Mae, the Scene Creamers, is still driven by Svenonius' potent mix of politics, sex and passion, but the songs rarely get off the ground.

With the Scene Creamers, the music is rough and loose, and the blend ends up sounding like a less experimental Mothers of Invention. Svenonius, like Frank Zappa before him, has always walked a fine line between celebrating and parodying rock & roll rebellion. But the Scene Creamers replace Zappa's matchless musical inventiveness with Svenonius' strange charisma. Songs such as "Session Man" live and die by his staccato falsetto, which is fine when they live -- as they do on "Session Man" and the opening "Better All the Time." Other songs drag, which is almost inconceivable, given the raw materials and short running time.

The pastiche of pseudocerebral politics and avant-garde subversiveness ought to find plenty of targets in Bush's America, but Svenonius likes to keep his attacks abstract and metaphorical. The clever "Bag, Inc." does a good of skewering those who think their hands are clean because they aren't actively involved in politics, but, mostly, the Scene Creamers don't seem sure what they're trying to say. There's lots of fertile ground for political satire in the country today, but Svenonius may have spent his seed.

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