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Kip Winger's "This Conversation Seems Like a Dream"; Silver Scooter's "The Other Palm Springs"

By Michael Henningsen

JANUARY 20, 1998: 

Alibi "Remember the '80s" Rating Scale:
!!!!!= Devo
!!!!= The Go-Gos
!!!= Berlin
!!= Kajagoogoo
!= Wham!

Kip Winger This Conversation Seems Like a Dream (Domo Records)

This one was released quite a while ago, and I have avoided it for reasons obvious to anyone who remembers '80s metal power ballads. By now, it's common knowledge that Kip Winger lives and works right here in New Mexico, but the fact that he's dimensional beyond his '80s poster-boy status is something most of us would never have entertained in light of his previous work.

Winger (the man, not the band) first emerged as Alice Cooper's bass player in the middle of the 1980s, back when musclehead Cain Roberts served as Cooper's guitarist and the brunt of many a swashbuckling illusion. Soon after, Winger (the band and the man) were so all over MTV that one could view virtually nothing else on the channel save for Slaughter, which is another story entirely. Written off early on as the cheesiest of cheese metal, Winger faded from sight by the early '90s, and the band's namesake wasn't heard from for some time.

That all changed last year when Winger (the man, not the band) showed up in sunny New Mexico, taught some classes at the College of Santa Fe and did a stint on Albuquerque's 94-Rock as a DJ. In the meantime, he also managed to record a very L.A.-sounding record at Rising Sun Studios in New Mexico's capital city. But despite its almost overly slick production, This Conversation Seems Like a Dream contains moments of palpable passion and purity. Partial credit for this is due to heavy hitters like drummer Rod Morgenstein and guitarist Andy Timmons. But Winger's (the man, not the band) debut solo effort also reflects quite a bit of depth that one might not be inclined to associate with a guy who's best remembered for packing his tool into painfully tight stretch denim and wearing the latest model Washburn bass in videos meant to showcase him as some sort of quasi-supermodel.

This Conversation Seems Like a Dream isn't exactly cohesive (partially due to the surprising fact that Kip himself managed to escape '80s pigeonholing almost unscathed); it's marked instead by moments of actual composition rather than a quandary of formulaic songwriting. Most listeners are likely to be appalled at the record's progressive-rock atmosphere, but there's much to be said about its ballsy attempt to break free from what we might expect from a guy with his particular reputation.

The result is a record that's far from unlistenable, but one that is not likely to drop many jaws. Some of the music is rather overindulgent, and the lyrics are generally uninspiring. But the fact that Winger (the guy, not the band) is maturing as an artist is at least worth a trip to the listening station at the local record store. !!!

Silver Scooter The Other Palm Springs (Peek-a-Boo)

Silver Scooter's "Tractor Pull," the opening track on the Austin trio's latest release, could just as easily be an outtake from Built to Spill's Perfect From Now On. But as the record progresses, the overt Built to Spill bandwagoneering slowly fades until we're left with some fairly proud Texas pop-punk. That's not to say, though, that The Other Palm Springs fits all that snugly within the loosely defined confines of said subgenre. There are a host of other influences and borrowed sounds at work here--everything from the Alarm to early Feelies on back to the db's.

"Good Man Down" and "Catching Fish," two of the album's several highlights, have more in common with indie rock delights that have come from Chapel Hill-sters like Archers of Loaf (at their calmest) and Polvo (at their least weird) than with most of their Austin-mates.

All things considered, The Other Palm Springs is an alternately quiet and drony-anthemic guitar-rock record with lush, subtle appeal. The 14 tracks tend to run together a bit after continuous listenings, but the rock is good enough to make up for a bit of musical color bleeding. When listening to songs like "Pumpkin Eyes," though, you're advised to eschew images of BTS from your mind as thoroughly as possible. Otherwise, you might get confused. !!!1/2

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