The Good, The Bad —The Local

Another Bay area local-release roundup

Once again, it's time for our quarterly look at a few of the homegrown releases that have crossed the Music Editor's desk over the past three months or so. Dig in, and remember, if something sounds like it might be up your alley, by all means, go find it. Now.

Mind Machine
Full-Length Demo

Veteran Sarasota fivesome Mind Machine offers up a seriously well-produced collection of pounders: seven tunes, and one "radio edit" each of what are ostensibly the two tunes going for radio adds. The first three tracks offer little more than generic moody, angst-laden metal-lite, albeit executed tightly and with conviction. Both the intrigue and listenability factors ratchet up a notch with the upbeat, anthemic "Imminent," however. They spike again for the familiar but here nicely done all-out-blast/quiet-groove dynamic of "Poetry for Mad Men" — featuring a great Kirk Hammett-influenced lead — and the dreamy, off-kilter and vaguely Pearl Jam-esque "Heal." Here, Mind Machine are at their best when they stretch their legs and wander away from plodding heavy-rock banality, but despite their obvious talents, it doesn't happen enough over the course of this group of tunes to transcend mediocrity. (www.mindmachine.net) 1/2SEBOSToken VesselThis is what the Butthole Surfers might've sounded like had they formed in Dade City and matched their LSD intake with copious amounts of quaaludes. Spring Hill one-man band David J. Patterson has concocted a disconcerting yet captivating sound in the guise of SEBOS, industrial-tinged and menacing but simultaneously organic and endlessly surprising. The programmed drums can become a bit of a drag after a while, and Patterson's vocal shape-shifting is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. The disc overcomes monotony by wildly mixing styles, however, and standouts like the somewhat danceable "What You Said" and "It's Not My Scene," the twangified "Earn the Fade" and the, um, compellingly odd "Rolling Church of Paranoia" inspire repeated listens. Fans of the Ipecac Records catalog, take note. ([email protected])

Life of Pi
Sunrise with Seamonsters

This new Bay area outfit displays a rather narrow avenue of fuzzed-out pop-rock expression. Further, they wear their influences on their collective sleeve. It's lucky for them, then, that they're nothing short of excellent at what they do. It would be extremely easy to write off Life of Pi as a Weezer clone; all you have to do is overlook the less obvious inspiration of a few other hip inspirations (The Pixies, The Vaselines, Sloan), and the fact that Sunrise with Seamonsters is actually better than anything The Big W has released since Pinkerton. Yes, the fuzz is nearly identical, and yes, they tend to rely on the old, waltzy 1-2-3, 1-2-3 beat a little more than is prudent. But these 13 raw but sweet, familiar but fresh, ironic but sincere tracks comprise one hell of an accomplished and addictive debut. (www.lifeofpiband.com)

Crippled Masters
The Wreck of the Crippled Masters

Crippled Masters are a St. Pete garage-rock trio whose live show never disappoints, but whose first full-fledged LP occasionally does. This is nasty old-school distorted rock 'n' roll that fares best when it keeps pop hooks and brief, humorous blasts in mind ("Helper Monkey," "Somehow I Turned Out Wrong," "Manchowder"). The disc occasionally overextends itself for the sake of moody Doors-esque fuzz 'n' roll — the surfy "Down That Road" and unnecessary instrumental "Supper's Ready" are prime examples. The pervasive sense of knowing and caring more about the Nuggets compilations than whoever came from Detroit or Sweden most recently, however, is both refreshingly new and refreshingly dated. Inside-joke samples aside, the trio plies solid, workmanlike and un-hip rock that, more often than not, scores without the dubious benefits of skinny ties and $75 haircuts designed to look like the barber paid the client for the privilege of screwing his head all up.

Hell on Earth
All Things Disturbingly Sassy

The Bay area's own resident Goth/metal/industrial stalwarts put on some of the most entertaining deviant-culture spectacles this side of New Orleans' Vampire District. Now, having said that, the conglomerate's latest opus, All Things Disturbingly Sassy, is something of a sub-par listen. Here, the group takes the most anonymous, watered-down aspects of movement-defining outfits, and works them well beyond the attention-span threshold of both the average listener and the diehard fan. In the case of the former, the crushing industrial beats, tortured processed vocals and simple, repetitive riffs will work for a while, but certainly not over the length of an album; in the case of the latter, there's none of the innovation or true dirty-acid danger present. This disc is neither groundbreaking nor truly malevolent; it simply rehashes the lowest-common-denominator elements of its influences ad nauseum. Their live circuses of exorcised repression aren't to be missed. This disc, however, amounts to little more than a repetitive, caricatured rehash of the Wax Trax Nation's least inventive trademarks. There's a reason lots of people go see the Impotent Sea Snakes, but almost nobody buys their records. (www.hellonearth.net) 1/2

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