Wednesday, May 25, 2005

L, I

Leatherface- Mush

Frankie Stubbs sounds a whole lot like Lemmy from Motorhead- maybe a little bit less cockney, but no less hoarse. (Imagine how smoky a Barbaro/Leatherface/Motorhead show would be!) He and his band put together a collection of gruff, straight ahead tunes that sound like they were insanely poppy before they were held down on the sander for a little while. No pop peaks or valleys, highs or lows, relying instead on head-down, barreling punk-influenced rawk. This is catchy stuff, even though it never really soars or falls flat- grabs yr. attention and holds it. Add another vocalist and more melody and you’ve got yourself some Hot Water Music.

Les Savy Fav- The Cat And The Cobra

I was lucky enough to catch the Fav life experience a bunch of times and was never disappointed. Tim Harrington is such an amazing frontman, alternately menacing, sagely and totally out of his mind that the audience can’t take their eyes off of the guy for even a moment. The band themselves make up for their static visual presence by playing this elaborate, crafty post-punk that incorporates elements of wave, math and straight up The Rawk into a seamless background for Harrington swinging from the rafters or running around on fire in the audience, whatever it is that night.

Sounds good, right? You should totally try and go see ‘em if you haven’t already. Thing is that I wouldn’t have gone to see ‘em at all if I hadn’t heard back from my friends that the live Fav were essential- I bought ‘The Cat And The Cobra’ just as the band was creeping into ubiquity and thought it was okay, nothing all that special or distinctive. In fact, I had such a good time at all of their shows that I gave this one an extra four or five spins before review, trying to figure out what it was that I had missed in my initial assessment(s). I didn’t come up with anything.

Lifetime- Hello Bastards

If you believed the big fanzines, the mid-nineties punk scene was just rife with division and upheaval, brother against brother like the goddamn Civil War. If you were lucky enough to live in a big city, anyway. I was in New Hampshire and envied places that were big enough to nurture more than one scene. The same core group of like three hundred or so kids went to all the Elvis Room shows, no matter what kind of band was playing (with the possible exception of some of the hardcore shows, which drew all of the knucklehead ‘core kids from parts unknown. Funny thing about New England- there are quiet little pockets of humanity here that you don’t see or hear from until some event happens. Hardcore at the Elvis Room is a good example- whenever bigger bands came through, the room would fill up. Same thing happened whenever a state fair would come by- legions of long-haired heshers in Pantera shirts would surface and I’d wonder where they were kept for the rest of the year). The underground was the underground, and the underground kids all went to the underground shows while the hippie kids went to see the jam bands.

So Lifetime was a band that always made me shake my head a little bit. Not because they were bad or anything- their short songs had poppy, melodic vocals, as well as chugga-chugga guitar breakdowns. Perfect for moshing. The thing about them that I could never figure out was their fans. Hardcore kids, mostly- the group that tends to sloganeer the most, wave their flags the highest. Lifetime was an a-list band, got their name bandied about a little bit. It cracks me up, because they were on Jade Tree, a label that later became the premier purveyors of emo. And who did they sound like? Aside from the ‘core breakdowns, there was a hell of a lot of Screeching Weasel to be heard- a band that was very firmly rooted in pop-punk, a genre that was widely reviled. Go back and listen to both bands and come back when you’re ready to admit that Ari Katz and Ben Weasel have similar vocal styles and intonations.

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