Pennywise wants to be your newest punk-rock pals. They've got the '77-style riffs you know and love, and they've honed their young-and-pissed attitude into something palpable enough to get them signed to Epitaph, the hot-shit indie home of Rancid and the Offspring. The lyric sheet to About Time, the Hermosa Beach, California, quartet's most recent piece of rant and roll, reads like a checklist for angry underground rockers: You get your existential angst ("Waste of Time"), your the-future-looks-horrible pessimism ("Peaceful Day"), and, of course, your distaste for social conformity ("Try"). What you don't get is a sliver of originality or a taste of something you haven't sampled a zillion times before. The hoarse, shouted vocals; the amped-up, pseudo-metal guitars; the pummeling rhythm section -- About Time is a punk-by-numbers throwaway as hollow and dull as any pop piffle on the Billboard charts. Everything on it has been done better by a legion of current superpunks, from Gaunt and New Bomb Turks to the Oblivians and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, all of whom have released recent albums that maintain the traditions of punk rock while adding bruises to the music's battered face. Can Pennywise pull it off live? You be the judge.
By John Floyd
Pennywise performs with the Joykiller and Quit at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 20, at the Edge, 200 W Broward Blvd, Ft Lauderdale; 525-9333. Tickets for this all-ages show cost $13.
In from the Storm
This London Metropolitan Orchestra-driven (never heard of 'em, either) tribute to Jimi Hendrix is misguided, misbegotten, mis-every-damn-thing-you-can-think-of. It's produced by former Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer, who's turned into the kind of guy who settles on harmonica hack Toots Thielemans when he wants a really, you know, heavy kind of jazz cat. Thielemans's mercifully brief "Little Wing" takes the tune straight to the elevators, while Sting is at his self-satisfied worst on "The Wind Cries Mary." In fact, not only are the orchestral arrangements and rock-combo playing by the likes of Carlos Santana, Stanley Clarke, and Cozy Powell far too clean and worshipful, but none of the vocal performances here come anywhere near Hendrix's warmth. (Buddy Miles's rendition of the stoner dialect on "Rainy Day, Dream Away" is a disgrace to the artistic and intellectual legacy of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.) Nice to see the master's songwriting given a nod, I suppose, but you'd never guess from this slop that Hendrix compositions had ever been successfully adapted to other musical idioms in the past by worthies such as the Kronos Quartet, Gil Evans and Emmylou Harris.