Head 'em up
Technology--unlike money--seems to genuinely trickle down to folks who were never imagined as beneficiaries. Yet there's a cruel joke. Several items in recent Dallas Observer music sections have mentioned the fact that technological advances are enabling more and more people to make their own albums. That's the good news. The bad news is that technological advances are enabling more and more people to make their own albums.
It isn't exactly high praise to say that an album is not as bad as the band's name would lead you to believe, but when your band's moniker is as stupid as Bowling for Soup, anything's possible. The Denton band has been together since 1994 and is said to be quite winning live; you can see glimmers of that in their crunchy power-pop of Rock on Honorable Ones (Ffroe Records), which blends elements of ska, Cheap Trick, heartland rock, the Jam, and Material Issue and comes up with something that sounds like what David Lindley's top-40 stadium band might sound like. On an off night.
May I take a moment? I know that we're a multi-faceted universe of shapes and sizes; every day I feel the power of our diversity. That said, could we please have a moratorium on pictures of big ol' hairy fat guys with their shirts off? Especially--as in BFS' case--there's one shot of him manipulating his ample dugs like a Playboy model? Thanks.
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The spine of Eden Automatic's self-released 1998 Earthy Pleasures & Erotic Delights reads "Heavyalternativehippiefunkrock." This is a sign akin to the one above a highway diner that advertises its expertise in German, Chinese, Mexican, and American cuisine. Thinking back on the meal, the sign was probably meant as a warning. Earthly Pleasures isn't that bad--listening to it doesn't seem to affect your digestive tract--but that "heavy-etc." tag is the same kind of warning. That's appropriate, since EA is the same kind of meal: OK, really, just a bit undistinguished and underwhelming. The band is sluggish, weighted by hackneyed ideas (the first song on the album is titled "Feels Good to be Bad").
61 Arms' self-released Thrown is a step up. The songs are more cohesive and seem to come from some common creative place. Still, you're unlikely to make much of a mark sitting at the intersection this band is parked at--where sorta-jazzy chops and electric riffing could collide at any minute with face-making lead vocals and mediocre poetry.
In this realm--worn so smooth--it's going to be hard to make any kind of mark. Perhaps it's more important to try. Brad Laner, of the cult band Medicine, said that the prospect of making a so-so or poorly realized album didn't frighten or anger him. "What's the big deal?" he asked. "Just make another one."