Various Artists – Communists are Just Part-Time Workers

Various Artists
Communists are Just Part-Time Workers

Ahhhh, a 17-song sampler from unknown Southeastern bands. These things are such bittersweet little treats; it’s sad in a way but sort of funny too that there are just so many bands out there that suck. In another way, these are a blast because you never know what you’ll find and it’s always interesting to hear what people choose to do with their time. Here we go, song by song:
Sandra Black, “Nyabinghi Dance Hall”: Crunchy guitars and start and stop rhythms, the song is a lot more attitude than anything else. Too polished to really be very exciting. The Noise, “Vanity”: Leonard Cohen (maybe) and slightly Mark Eitzel influenced vocals and lyrics that aren’t bad. Horizontal with a bit of a gratuitous guitar solo, a circular refrain (“Pull down your vanities now”) and an even more gratuitous harmonica solo. Worst line I’ve heard in a while: “Twice convicted sex offender, maybe you’re a priest / Broken, drunken dreamer, maybe you’re me.” The song isn’t nearly as bad as that line. Hubbard’s Cupboard, “Hiss”: Glammy riff that isn’t very much fun; lyrics about Alger Hiss. The song would have been a lot funnier and more effective if the playing wasn’t so ridiculous.
Blastic Pupple, “Anything & Everything”: What is it with these horrible band names? The best song so far, mainly because it doesn’t seem to be as dead-set on impressing as the others. Still, with its cracky vocals and not-as-good-at-this as the Flaming Lips lyrics (“I’m so obsessed that I want to rewrite every song so that it includes your name”) it tries a little hard to be geek-pop. The song has a floppy, forward-pushing momentum, a bit like the Lemonheads, even if it gets bogged down in ridiculousness by the way over-long ending which sort of ruins what set it up. First Night on Earth, “Misunderstood”: More of the 80s goth, new-wave retro stuff that I can’t really stomach. Much better, though, then all the Boston bands that have turned me off of this. I could see someone slipping this in between “Sugar Kisses” and “Girls on Film” and the dancers not really missing a beat. That’s a compliment. Pacer, “Rip off”: For some reason I think I know this group. Hangers-on to the legacy of mid-90s girl-fronted alternative bands I used to fall in love with (Belly, the Sundays) but whose style no one seems to be able to get right anymore. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff going on musically and her vocals veer frighteningly close to picking up a Cranberries fake-Irish thing but overall they their influences justice.
The Ravelers, “Some Say”: Apparently a left-over track from the band and it sounds like it. Nothing really seems to go anywhere, and the playing sounds like ideas that never got off the ground. Thank You, Spaceman, “When the Current Comes”: Slightly psychedelic with over-earnest vocals, the song is good but it just sounds like a few parts are missing. My So-Called Band, “Will You Still Drug Me Tomorrow?”: I hear that the Sights do this kind of Stooges rock really well. Could be. These guys are pretty good at it as well. But with this bad of a name I can’t help but guess that there’s less than meets the eye. And besides, the Stooges already made this kind of music. The Inconsiderates, “Robots on the Rise (Talking Robot Mix)”: By far the best thing so far. Just over a minute of loud, unimpressed-with-itself rock and lyrics about robots taking over. Perfect for this kind of disc.
Frocky Jack, “Super Sonic Travel”: Damn, this song was going along great and you had to go and ruin it. A mix-up of a mid-tempo Bowie riff with a Guided By Voices lyrical sense, the song does just fine telling its little story about humans evolving through time and technology and they just have throw in this fall-apart middle section. It’s worth it, though, for the first two minutes or so. If this is as the same singer as Thank You, Spaceman, then his vocal style works much better here. Fairburn Royals, “Lonesome Townie Blues”: Finally, an alt-country (sorry for the weak handle) band that doesn’t murder Gram Parsons. Sort of funny but heartfelt underneath it all (“What’s wrong with being a townie / Because I’m happy where I am”); heartfelt being the ingredient missing in so many 20-something bands busy digging up Hank Williams records and trying to stomach straight whiskey. They have personality, also; it’s the only song that grabs you from the first line. It’s worth holding onto the disc for this song alone. And finally, a good band name.
Neglected Sheep, “Satellite Fly”: More radio-ready rock that I just don’t understand. Over-produced and under-engaging. Miss Kim, “Spooky Loop”: I don’t know. The song is pretty much just a catchy loop with a Speak and Spell counting time and female vocals. I know there are a lot of inventive things being done in this style but that’s not really the case here. Illcitizen, “Detached”: Interesting but not as interesting as I bet the band thinks it is. Vocals that are a little forced and buried in the mix, but not in a cool vocals buried in the mix kind of way, and a beat you can’t really dance to make for un-fun synth mope rock. Still, it catches your ear, which is something.
Glaze, “Create”: Glaze’s new album is called Shark Sandwich. This is the second Spinal Tap reference I have encountered today that a band had committed for posterity to CD. Memo to all bands: Spinal Tap references are really hilarious between friends and bandmates and really, really bad in the context of album titles, lyrics, stage banter, etc…The song is okay but it’s been ruined for me now. Tombstone Daddys, “Cowboy”: I know some people can relax and enjoy these fake hillbilly “rawk” bands, but I’ve never been able to. I know there’s just as much posing and faking in any music style, but this whole thing just seems too dumb-downed to be enjoyable. With a refrain of “I’m a cowboy,” (ummmm, no you’re not) the song is fine, I guess, if this is what you’re into.
And there you have it; one really great song (Fairburn Royals), some good if not thoroughly realized ones (Pacer, Illcitizen, the Inconsiderates, First Night on Earth), with a few wannabe over-achievers and some really horrible band names thrown in. These bands most likely won’t be moving the world but if it was fun for them, then it was fun for me.