Friday, February 11, 2005


Challenger- Give The People What They Want In Lethal Doses

How dorky is it to get into a band because of a fanzine? Crimpshrine goes down a whole lot easier with the knowledge that hey, that’s Aaron Cometbus thwappin’ the skins. Likewise, Al Burian, he of the wonderful Burn Collector zine (new issue, by the way is great- you think it’s meandering, then his trip to Europe kicks in and all of the bits that sounded like babbling tie in and become themes. Rad!) plays in Milemarker. Challenger is Al and Dave Laney, also of the same band, playing together while the aforementioned Milemarker is on hiatus.
I read a review of this record somewhere that mentioned the band members’ intent was to porduce a modern-day take on the Minutemen and Husker Du (note to bands- if you want me to buy yr. record, all you have to do is mention your fanatical devotion to the Minutemen, and I’m there. Seriously.) While ‘Doses’ doesn’t sound a damn thing like either of the bands mentioned, I can appreciate the sentiment- Milemarker tends to be a little bit bleepy at times. There’s an emphasis on electronics (and showmanship, in their live setting) that a lot of bands have since started to incorporate into their things. ‘Doses’ is straight ahead, no bullshit. Laney and Burian know each other very well, and it shows in the playing- the straight-aheadedness doesn’t mean that this is punk by numbers, by any means. Dual guitars play complimentary riffs; dual vocals sing the same. Al’s voice, the low one, narrates/dictates while Laney’s high, screamier vocals punctuate.
This record feels a lot more personal and immediate to be than the Milemarker records (which I liked very much) did- I got this CD a few months back and kept it in my discman for a solid three weeks. Everything clicks when I hear it, still.

Channels- Open

Same thing happened with the last Burning Airlines record- got it, put it on, and was not immediately knocked out by hooks or guitar interplay. A little bit of shelf time, and then, many listens later, appreciation.
J. Robbins has gotten more subtle, more sublime over time. This record is very spacious- not every moment needs to be filled with guitar/bass/voice/drums. Janet Morgan’s backing vocals add a nice, previously unaccessed dimension, and Darren Zentek has always been one of those drummers that makes other drummers stand in front of the riser with mouth agape (remember that ten-minute drum bit in that one Kerosene 454 song? Me too, and I only saw ‘em once.)

Chase Scene- The Great Divide ep

You know how friends are in bands and you have their CD’s and sometimes the music isn’t very good but you hang onto their stuff anyway because hey, they’re your friends and you gotta represent? Those CD’s, the ones that you don’t like but hang onto anyway, they start to taint your perceptions a little bit, jade you. Take The Chase Scene- I think this was given to me before John Ledoux started to play drums with Garrison- ‘Hey, this guy’s going to be our new drummer, check it out.’ I filed the disc under ‘C’ and promptly forgot I had it. I threw it in for the first time the other day, fully expecting it to be one of those ‘eh’ discs that I know I’m destimed to keep around forever. It was a nice surprise to hear some totally solid, well played anthemic post-punk pop.
(Completely unrelated: my computer’s CD player says that the Chase Scene CD is by a band called the Donots- alternate song titles and everything- meaning that some band somewhere ALSO put out an EP with five songs that have the exact same running lengths. I know this stuff probably happens a little bit, but still, it’s pretty weird, isn’t it?)


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