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RADAR BROS.

Radar Bros.
Restless Records

LIKE THE DISC within, the cover art of the Radar Bros. self-titled debut release is deceptively understated. The sleeve design could not be more apropos: familiar objects (shaggy, unkempt palm trees) appear mysterious and foreign when viewed from strange angles in dramatic light, revealing themselves only after a close, second inspection. The 12 tracks of Radar Bros. are out and out Floydian in inspiration, not only from a musical perspective, but in their narrative lyrical approach as well. Unlike Pink Floyd, though, the stories told are vague verging on nonsensical, as though the language is encoded; for example, from "Wise Mistake of You": it wasn't in the safe/we found it in the lake/the mother of mistakes/they left it for the sake/of my demise. With heroin-paced rhythms meandering in dreamy lethargy, the songs are evenly textured from one to the next, and it is only after the album's midpoint that the listener begins to realize there's no huge Floydian conclusion, that the whole album is a series of preambles to such. This is not to say that Radar Bros. lacks larger moments, just that it's more a matter of scale. Although some may tire of the unchanging tempo throughout, the stripped down arrangements--full of tinkles, squeaks and spacey synth noodlings--are in no way over-simplified. The songs lull the listener, like floating on gentle waves, hypnotic yet sinister for what lurks beneath them, nevertheless too sedate to keep the promise of the violence intimated within. Akin to Morphine, the Radar Bros. have successfully characterized themselves with a trademark sound--one that's unmistakable even after a single listen. Let's hope it doesn't become an albatross around their necks.

--Lisa Weeks

DROPOUTS

Come On!
Unclean

THIS TURBO-CHARGED Austin garage punk quartet retains the high-octane energy of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels ("Come On"), expands on the fuzz 'n' wail of the Chocolate Watchband ("I'm The One") and fixates on the impassioned rhythm and blues/rock swagger of the Yardbirds ("Turn Me On"). More updated influences include the galloping sleaze rock of the Raunch Hands and the dirty sonic boom of the Mono Men interlocked in a deadly pool hall rumble. Come On! is even produced by ex-Raunch Hands' guitar slinger, treble-heavy knob twirler Mike Miraconda. Lead shrieker Dave Demel gives the singer for hearse-driving, trash-rock serial killers, the Makers, a serious challenge in the snotitude department. Snarling guitar leads from Chris Lange and Demel's maniacal harp outbursts inject the overall six-oh garage imprint with vigor and affection.

--Ron Bally

THE OFFSPRING

Ixnay On The Hombre
Columbia

THERE'S NOT A buckeyball's difference between The Offspring and some hideous Prog-cum-AOR dinosaur like Journey. What's amazing about these SoCal brats is how rapidly they've ossified into punk-by-numbers schlockmeisters whose idea of "rebellion" is leering and gunning for the camera and then going to a beerblast at a frat. They're entertainment icons, not spokespersons, more Joe Camel than Joe Strummer, and their ascent to the top of the alterna-heap does in fact signal the final nail in rebel youth's coffin. Hasta la vista, kids. This steroid-pumped collection's idea of rabble-rousing is to condemn, without a hint of irony, everybody else, with non-slogans like "you'll fuck up just like your parents did, it all just happens again" amid a repetitive barrage of go-nowhere riffs and lye-scraped vocals. The band's fashionable, and increasingly tedious, dalliance with funky beats and ska-punk arrangements on several songs only adds to the formulaic nature of The Offspring.

--Fred Mills




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