Various Artists, Space Cadette Compilation (Space Cadette). This twenty-song, eighteen-artist collection has a 1995 copyright on it, but it's worth including here because (1) I got it in the mail only a month ago and (2) it expertly documents the variety of sounds coming from South Florida (with three out-of-staters thrown in for reasons beyond me). The effect of the 76-minute hodgepodge is not unlike spending a weekend bouncing from live club to live club: You got your Latin rock (Pepe Alva y Alma Raymi, Suende), your old-school punk (Stun Guns, Swivel Stick, and Cavity), and your weirdo pop contortionists (Kreamy 'Lectric Santa). Like the music scene it documents, SCC titillates as often as it infuriates. Alva's "Mi Cholita" is a primo slice of rock en espa*ol highlighted by Alva's gritty pipes and some amazing flute work that I'll always remember, while Sift's mopey and meandering "Dance of the Moth" is a psych-folk nightmare I hope someday to forget. I loved the hyperactive herky-jerky instrumental "Hazhibv" by Ed Matus' Struggle, as well as Kreamy 'Lectric Santa's crash-and-bash popper "Rabbit Ass," but got fidgety during Pink Elephants' unpleasantly Seventies-esque "The Great Escape." Something to feel good about: The three dullest tracks here are by the out-of-staters.
QuinQuinna, Shutupandlisten (Ultra Hein). Shutupandgoaway.
INHOUSE, The Beautiful Soup (Fantasma Productions). Precious pop and ponderous pretension from a West Palm Beach quintet who, in the liner notes accompanying this disc, tell their listeners that they are "the constitution that governs your own ears and minds." Thanks just the same, but after spending a couple hours with these noodly, slightly arty songs of adolescence ("The Hiding Box"), courage ("Myles Away"), and sex, drugs, and degeneracy ("Pulse"), I'm left wondering just who the hell would willingly lend their ears and minds to these lunkheads (present company excluded; it's my job, after all).
Los Canadians, Los Canadians (Star Crunch EP). Six fine songs featuring slurred vocals, fuzzy guitars, roaming bass lines, and deliriously frantic drumming. The compressed, lo-fi production makes it impossible to discern exactly what it is that's on the mind of vocalist Ivy McClelland, but lines that jump out -- "I wanna know if you're laughing at me," from "Clarissa," for instance -- suggest she's not too happy about things in general. Which is fine with me, because this is the kind of cranky and snarling slab of punk vinyl that makes me glad I own a turntable.
Black Janet, She (Beyond). During spins one, two, and three, with the sun shining through the windows and a nice warm breeze rocking the blinds, I resisted the moody, despondent pop tunes on this EP. The melancholic vocals of Jim Wurster and Amy Baxter jelled almost too perfectly, like cookie-cutter angst custom-made for the pop charts; the tempos and settings were just too damned stately and polite; and even nascent songwriters should never, ever open a song with a trite couplet like "She likes to make love in the rain/She's just a little bit insane" (from the title cut). Later, as midnight loomed and I settled in for spin four, Wurster's melancholy clicked, Baxter's wail suddenly had me thinking about Patti Smith circa Easter, and the acoustic-guitar strums and Hammond B-3 swirls had me thinking about all those Go-Betweens records I used to be so bonkers about. By spin five, I succumbed, cookie-cutter angst notwithstanding. Still, I wish Wurster had a better outlook on sex and romance ("Little Games"), and if the chorus on "Inside Your Eyes" is undeniably catchy, I can do without the song's endless references to shadows, silhouettes, and empty rooms.
Stevie Stiletto, An American Asshole (Attitude). And a whiny punk rocker.
Splat, "Kirsten Needs Lithium"/"The Day Everybody Painted Their Car Blue" (No Clue single). Perfectly competent buzzsaw punk from a trio that I really wish I liked better. Guitarist/vocalist Axl's got a fine set of nasally pipes, and the songs on this, the band's second seven-inch offering, are equally noisy and catchy, especially the B-side. I don't know. Maybe if I heard 'em live? Maybe if I hadn't heard so many groups just like 'em?
Fat Peter, So Long (Norfolk Music Productions). "Sounds like Hootie & the Blowfish," said a friend who'd recently heard this foursome's ten-song debut, and I didn't know what to say in response. I had only played it once and had completely forgotten anything about it (which, in a way, said plenty). Having since returned to So Long, I still hear no Hootie. Instead it reminds me of a lightweight, white-funk version of King's X without the Beatles-esque harmonies. The riffs are similarly complex, the lyrical concerns aren't that different, and lead vocalist Tony Fuentes is at times a dead ringer for X frontman Doug Pinnick. Which is just fine and all, but jeez, isn't one King's X plenty?