Juno, "A Future Lived in Past Tense"; Widespread Panic, "Don't Tell The Band"; Voodoo Glow Skulls, "Symbolic"; Rosie Flores, "Speed Of Sound"; Pinhead Circus, "The Black Power of Romance";
Now Hear This
Juno, "A Future Lived in Past Tense" (Desoto Records) - If you listen to Juno's latest album on your headphones while lying in your bed to admire the "Zenlike" listening experience singer Archie Carstens says you'll have, you may fall asleep.
Carstens says the Seattle band's second full-length album, "A Future Lived in Past Tense," has the "cinematic grandeur" found on "Ok Computer" and "Dark Side of the Moon." At best, the album's a muddy look at humanity. Lyrically, the Seattle emo-group tells interesting stories and phases of different people's lives with each song.
"A Future Lived In Past Tense" takes you to the depths of human depression and it leaves you with that feeling of emptiness you get when listening to Floyd's "Us and Them." The reason you may find yourself napping is that, although the band tries frequently with their three guitar attack, they never fully reach the musical climaxes you hear from the masters they emulate. Jacob Parcell
Widespread Panic, "Don't Tell The Band" (Sanctuary Records) - After road testing 11 of the 12 songs on their new album on tour, Widespread Panic has fine-tuned these songs in front of thousands of fans. Plus, their versatile songwriting allows their southern rock to delve into a variety of styles from arena rock to grunge-funk.
From the hard rock and desperate lyrics of "Give" to the crashing crescendos of "Imitation Leather Shoes," the band's seventh album takes on a sinister tone.
And while the bluegrass-tinged title track may sound upbeat, its lyrics speak about the bands that played during the Civil War and those on the Titanic. The message about the triumph of music in the face of adversity culminates in the calming chorus: "Just let the music play."
The lush piano ballad, "This Part Of Town" gives drummer Todd Nance a chance at the mic. His mellow vocals leave you with an eerie feeling right before it breaks down into a sizzling organ and percussion jam.
Following in the footsteps of 1999's "'Til the Medicine Takes," it's obvious that WP has become more comfortable in the studio. Here, they've creatively packaged the seeds that blossom on the road. Carrie Nieman
Voodoo Glow Skulls, "Symbolic" (Epitaph Records) - For me, the Riverside, California-bred Voodoo Glow Skulls are synonymous with hearing loss. My left ear hasn't been the same since I saw the group perform at Biograph on Grace Street.
Now that I've regained enough of my hearing to give this hyperspeed punk/ska/hardcore outfit's new album a listen, I'll start by saying that although it's not groundbreaking, it's a solid release.
They deliver more of their trademark punk-with-horns sound (complete with English and Spanish vocals), plus a blend of songs that blast through punk stereotypes.
The record starts with the surprisingly harsh "We're Back" that lashes out at third wave ska, a movement which seems to have become increasingly redundant throughout the years. In "Silencer" they attack a group of police officers involved in a murder. Despite these topics, the Voodoo Glow Skulls have some lighter moments, such as during the comical "Orlando's Not Here."
Punk, ska or ska-core (whatever you want to call them) the Voodoo Glow Skulls are a genre all their own. Now about that hearing thing: if they keep-up the good work, I won't hold it against them. Angelo DeFranzo
Rosie Flores, "Speed Of Sound" (Eminent) - For her seventh solo release, Flores stretches out to incorporate jazz, boogie, rockabilly and Latin torch song sounds, resulting in a mixed-bag that clicks and sputters. How much you like this will depend on your attraction to projects that turn on style instead of substance.
Rosie can sing and play a fine guitar. She's surrounded by some of the best from backup singers Gail Davies and Mandy Barnett to instrumentalists Greg Leisz and Rick Vito.
Flores' tune "Don't Take It Away" rocks with a fine Bo Diddley beat and her co-written "Speed Of Sound" is an affecting tune about a woman running from her past to an uncertain redemption. "Somewhere Down The Line," co-written with Marshall Crenshaw and sung with Terry McBride, clips along with an easy and likeable musical gait. But "Somebody's Someone" is way too cute, Buck Owens' "Hot Dog" never catches fire and "Don't Know If I'm Comin' Or Goin' " is aptly titled. Co-produced by Flores and guitarist Vito, it's a fine sounding disc but one that trades warmth for sheen. Ames Arnold
Pinhead Circus, "The Black Power of Romance" (BYO Records) - On their fourth full-length album Pinhead Circus has become a bit melodic. But only a little. From the drum intro of "Rumble Young Man Rumble" onward, there are plenty of drum and guitar machine-gun tempos that are formulaic to the majority of today's hardcore punk bands.
The Golden, Colorado quartet does put snippets of melody in their songs. There's a nice quasi-funky breakdown in "Rumble Young Man Rumble" and the instrumental breakdowns in "No Boundaries, No Regrets" and "I'll Die and It Will All Be Over." As noted by the album and song titles, most of singer/guitarist Jimmy Pinhead's (aka Scooter) vocals dwell on drinking, love, depression and the decadence of plastic, strip mall American society.
The album's best track "Sometimes We Shine" touches on the ballad format, but its driving distorted triplets won't have fans waving lighters in the air. J.P.
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