ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT
SAN DIEGO'S MOST solid tourist attraction this side of the seaquarium has delivered the goods in the past, but this one goes over the top. Like the cover art depicting a howling primate breaking loose from its shackles, Rocket From the Crypt is unleashed in terms of attitude, velocity and sheer tuneage. Right at the git-go the band delivers a one-two punch that k.o.'s the competition well before the third round: "Eye On You," a steamy R&B raveup on amphetamines featuring a sassy vocal duet between Speedo and Miss Holly Golightly (there's also a nifty Wayne Cochrane/MC5 tip o' the hat tossed in--speaking of attitude!); and "Break It Up," a wall-of-sound glammy stomper that crosses Gary Glitter, the Ramones and the Beatles' "Revolution." Incredibly, RFTC ups the ante several times later during the record, including the maniacally anthemic "Made For You," the rumble-inna-jungle Stones funk of "You Gotta Move" and the punk-garage slammer "When In Rome."
THE DIRTBOMBS' combination of squealing feedback-driven guitar, dual drumming and walloping bass guitar attack gives this reverb-heavy, R&B-splashed punk combo a sludge thick wall-of-noise presence rivaling that of the Velvet Underground. Imagine the Velvets, Gories and Oblivians battling to the death inside a tuna fish can, their raw and ultra crude instrumentation blazing away with hell-bent fury. Led by Mick Collins (who spent time fronting the Gories and the rockabilly grunge outfit Blacktop), the Dirtbomb's distinctive Motown howl and wicked axe slingin' escapades shred like one of Dolemite's rapid-fire, X-rated monologues. "I Can't Stop Thinking About It" is one of the best sex-crazed dance tracks of 1998--a dynamite, punk-fueled R&B groove wrapped around Collins' raw voice and sinister guitar leads. The lively Annette Funicello-inspired "She Blinded Me With Playtex" sounds as if the band began trashing their instruments in the middle of the L.A. freeway at rush hour, with 75 primal seconds of sensory meltdown presented live in glorious boozeramic sinemascope. "Pheremone Smile" croaks eerily like Arthur Lee of Love backed by defunct garage punk nutjobs, the Mummies. Collins executes some snarling, self-professed "cyclone" guitar riffs underneath the stomping, mummified mayhem. These Detroit cavemen have found their place in a fuzz-drenched, garage band sound reminiscent of Question Mark and the Mysterians fused with the sonic annihilation of the Stooges.
Whitey Ford Sings the Blues
THIS ALBUM WOULD'VE been easy to dismiss at first glance. Rapper Everlast long ago spent his 15 minutes as leader of the Irish rappers House of Pain. And the CD's title and cheesy opener ("The White Boy is Back") suggest he was stuck in a long-expired age when the existence of Caucasian hip-hop was news. But then Whitey Ford throws a killer change-up. With the cautionary tale "Ends," Everlast reveals maturity and lyrical skill. Better yet, under the cosmetics of a hip-hop beat and scratches, Everlast strums chords on acoustic guitar and rasps a convincing melody. Confounding the odds, Everlast rejuvenates himself from rap's scrap heap and fashions a new musical identity: the b-boy singer-songwriter.
Ford alternates straight hip-hop with guitar-based folk-soul, mixing in unlikely concoctions such as the Nine Inch Zeppelin riffing on "Hot to Death," and the New Orleans piano rolls of "7 Years." The mix of city-kid rhymer and peckerwood poet is far too earthy to be called trip-hop. Rather, it's a style found at the crossroads of Johnny Cash and Grandmaster Flash. Everlast, indeed.
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