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Weekly Alibi Red Expendables "Red Expendables; DM3 "Dig It the Most"

By Michael Henningsen

FEBRUARY 16, 1998: 

Alibi Rating Scale
!!!!!= Overwhelming
!!!!= Quite worthy
!!!= Barely notable
!!= Underwhelming
!= Pillar of shit

Red Expendables Red Expendables (Grimm Werks)

To compare or not to compare ... compare, contrast, analyze: Red Expendables vs. Cop Shoot Cop. Well, RedEX is the remainder of Cop, so it makes comparison a bit difficult to avoid. In fact, all but four of the songs were recorded for what was meant to be the last Cop Shoot Cop release. After Tod A. split in the middle of the recording session, the rest of the band went in and recorded Natz's lyrics and vocals over Tod's --on the songs that the whole band had written--and recorded the four new tracks: "So Sincere," "Only Asking," "Zagreb" and "Fascinated." The results are RedEX.

With most of the same raw energy but missing some of the infectious industrial hooks that made early Cop Shoot Cop songs immediately identifiable, the last version of Cop took a couple steps closer to basic, modern-day rock and roll and named it Red Expendables. Understandably, most of the songs sound like a newer version of Cop Shoot Cop, with Natz singing instead of Tod, the true source of the step closer to rock and a noticeable difference. How different? Well, like the songs he wrote and sang on previous Cop Shoot Cop releases, Natz touches on social and seemingly personal issues and occasionally belts out an edgy vocal accompaniment. So, in that respect, not very much. But Natz's voice doesn't carry quite the same intensity or polish as Tod's.

This slight vocal failing won't bother those pining for Cop Shoot Cop, though. At least two songs, "Downtime" and "Tightrope" resemble old Cop enough to keep them happy. And the new stuff? Of the four songs that are strictly RedEX, "So Sincere" and "Zagreb" are the strongest efforts. Especially "Zagreb" because it is the stunning exception to a recording otherwise devoid of instrumentals; it's a spooky tune with a soulful, upbeat demeanor that leaves the listener in a state of longing. Longing to hear more. So, Cop Shoot Cop is dead. That's OK. Red Expendables are rising from the ashes with grace and promise and many other musical projects to come. !!!! (AN)

DM3 Dig it the Most (Bomp!)

The DM3 are Australia's most exciting contribution to power pop since the Hoodoo Gurus got boring, which if memory serves happened sometime during side two of Blow Your Cool! Singer/guitarist Dom Mariani (formerly of the Stems and the Someloves) is a master of offhand-sounding three-chord pop songs, both relatively serious ("Please Don't Lie") and seriously goofy (the infectious, Rubinoos-like "TV Sound"). Dig It the Most is the DM3's U.S. debut, combining most of their two Australian albums, Road to Rome and One Time Two Times Three Red Light, and a couple of EP tracks.

The songs are uniformly strong, though "Thought You Were Foolin'" skates dangerously close to power-ballad territory. Mitch Easter's production (like his recent work with Vinyl Devotion, Pavement and Helium) doesn't skimp on the rough edges but keeps Pascal Bartolone's drums and Toni Italiano's bass clean enough to keep everything from sounding sludgy. Also, Easter's electric sitar work on the album's best track, the insanely hook-ridden "Fall To Bits," is the best use of the instrument since Redd Kross' "Play My Song."

Still ... 20 songs in 73 minutes. It's value for money, no question, but some of us think power-pop is a musical genre where less is more. Even though Dig It the Most is nothing less than one killer track after another, by the time "Up in the Air" comes around with its Shoes-like chorus and spiraling, crystalline guitar solo, or when you hear the perfectly-justified use of Kinks-derived "Ooh-la-la-la" backing vocals in "180 Degrees," you're in danger of thinking, "Yawn ... another perfect pop song."

If you like the Posies, Shoes, Greenberry Woods or '90s power-pop in general, then you owe it to yourself to buy Dig It the Most. But you may want to stick it in a multidisc changer with some other things (I found it worked really well on shuffle play with Astrud Gilberto, R. Stevie Moore, and Stereolab) to be able to, well, dig it the most. Just because a couple of chocolate chip cookies taste wonderful, that doesn't necessarily mean you want to scoff the whole plate in one sitting. !!!!1/2 (SM)

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