Blurt — Dec/Jan 2009
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The Last Roundup
Chuck Eddy

AMASEFFER Exodus: Slaves For Life (Inside Out/SPV) Hebrew prayer jazz not leftfield enough? How about an extreme-metal concept album, recorded in Germany by an Israeli band, inspired by Moses’ Exodus from Egypt?

Portentous power-bombast for Passover, in other words, with vocals more-narratedthan- sung, in a Virgin Prunes vibrato or Rammstein gutturals or high wailing whine. Ritual chants, clanking chains, Middle Eastern rhythms, and desert atmospherics provide drama and variety; most metal titles are “Ten Plagues” and “Land of the Dead.” ( BANASTRE TARLETON BAND Huzzah! Greatest Hits (Green Horse) As explained in meticulous detail in the mullet-filled 60-page booklet enclosed within this CD’s cover, the Banastre Tarleton Band have been ubiquitous in bars in and around central Missouri for over three decades; way back in 1975, they even jammed at University of Missouri- Columbia’s ROTC building (which this writer has actually rappelled off a couple times, but never mind.) The latter gig might help explain why they’ve done anthems supportive of American invasions of both Iraq and Grenada; “Rockin’ With America” would also seem related somewhat. But this 21-song retrospective refuses to pigeonhole them, patriotically or otherwise. The adenoidal Weird Al nerd-wave of “Don’t Call Me Denis” isn’t easy to take, and “Redwings” ickily revolves its male-bonding around menstrual muff-diving rather than Detroit hockey, but when the band indulges its Lou Reed fetish in “I’m Going Under” and “I’m Wired,” you could swear they were artpunks from late ‘70s Cleveland.

“Hindenburg” is arch-popped demi-classical metal (think Crack the Sky or Sensational Alex Harvey Band) about the dead zeppelin itself; “The Enchantress” prances its frilly-feathered prog around some Renaissance castle; “Electric Woman” is built on a Neil Young chord progression; “Eye For An Eye” is a burly bar brawl. “Debbie Wylde,” seemingly revealing a crush on a fetching local radio personality a la Bob Seger’s “Rosalie,” has heavy riffs to die for. As does “Attack Iraq,” scarily enough.

( BOSS MARTIANS Pressure In The Sodo (MuSick) Brash brats pledge allegiance to their low-rent Seattle neighborhood while emphasizing organ parts, shoplifting guitar hooks from Nugent and the Knack, and retaining their garage beat and high registers at fast tempos. Jack Endino mixed them, they thank Little Steven in their booklet, and Iggy lends backup vocals on “Mars Is For Martians,” so they’ve got connections. But swooping starry-eyed like the Records or dreaming too much like the Electric Prunes, they’re anything but singleminded in their exploration of pop-rock’s abandoned nooks and crannies. They’re not afraid to pomp things up, and by the excellent “Elsie” at album’s end they’ve finally figured out how post-prog proto-hair-metal punching bags Aldo Nova and Night Ranger might have sounded as punk rock bands.

( DUNGEONS AND DRAG QUEENS Meat N’ Potatoes (Dungeons & Drag Queens) Behind a seat-of-pants CD cover reminiscent of Springsteen and/or Loverboy, four Sacramento smart-asses revive the crass powerpoppish energy, sense of humor, lack of pretension, and good oldfashioned sexism of forgotten provincial early ‘80s hard rockers (Kings, Fools, Tazmanian Devils) who tried to hitch rides on new wave’s doomed skinny tie bandwagon. The AC/DC rip “Cooperstown” would seem to concern baseball; the number that equates a “blueball queen” with a sea monster has Sex Pistols riffs; the old-timey hoedown “Rent My Time” doesn’t come off corny; “A Streetcar Named Zephyr” stars a girl with a gun; and the cross-dressed closer “Gash Ain’t For Me” (she’s a kind of a drag, always smoking a fag, chasing women around, only half a girl) could easily pass for some lost ‘70s androgyne-genie classic. Chorus harmonies get goofy, voices party in the background, the band wants to French your fries, and the Greeks don’t want no freaks. ( ddqrocks) PONI HOAX Images Of Sigrid (Tigersushi) Electroclash had to go somewhere, so why not France?

But electroclash was never smart enough to pay homage to Foreigner (“You’re Gonna Miss My Love”) and Joy Division (“”Hypercommunication”) as if they were both spawn of Electric Six, much less build a melody from “Paint It Black” into a killer Velvet Underground drone (“The Paper Bride.”) A quintet with not one but two keyboard players, Poni Hoax aren’t immune to cabaret detachment. But they prefer pure pleasure, and their thespian side doesn’t get unbearable until the blowhard ballad that closes the album. By then, you’ve fallen for more than enough funk basslines, glam shouts, sax solos, minimalist swirls, and fragile synthesizers to get by. ( VARIOUS ARTISTS

B. I.P.P.: French Synth Wave 1979-85 (Everloving) The 14 frog-eating bands and individuals here all turned cyborg in the wake of disco and punk, and it took a Parisian indie label to crate-dig and assemble their obscure old 45s, some of which sold as few as 50 copies the first time around.

Rhythmic inspirations range from “Rock and Roll, Part 2” to table tennis (Dole trio Act’s onomatopoeic “Ping Pong.”) And the most memorable cuts partake in hooks that, in an alternate universe, might well have landed them on MTV: Paris foursome Vox Dei jitter nervously like Talking Heads or Devo; Orleans gent Les Visiteurs Du Soir sweetly presage Italodisco; Nice S&M sexpot Marie Möör triangulates somewhere between Trio, Telex, and the Flying Lizards.

The latter hussy, shown notably topless in the colorful inner foldout, wants us to know “eets a preety way to die.”