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philip sherburne
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++ Needle Drops is now an occasional music column that a number of Neumu writers take turns writing. All columns prior to March 2004 were written by Philip Sherburne.


++ Recently ++

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 = The Stooges Unearthed (Again)

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 = Documenting Beulah And DCFC

Tuesday, November 1, 2005 = Out-Of-Control Rock 'N' Roll Is Alive And Well

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 = Just In Time For Halloween

Monday, October 3, 2005 = The Dandyesque Raunch Of Louis XI

Monday, August 15, 2005 = The Empire Blues

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 = David Howie's Sónar Diary

Monday, July 25, 2005 = Hot Sounds For Summertime

Monday, June 27, 2005 = Overcoming Writer's Block At Sónar 2005

Monday, June 4, 2005 = Cool New Sounds To Download Or Stream


++ Needle Drops Archives ++

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

++ Out-Of-Control Rock 'N' Roll Is Alive And Well

By Jenny Tatone

++ Oh my God, that's right, I do like rock music. I almost forgot. Seriously, I almost totally forgot. I know rock can be such an ambiguous term, so let me clarify. I'm talking about the loud, fast and out-of-control kind. The kind that gets you jumping and feeling all bad-ass, like you're the coolest motherfucker around. That's right. I think there just might be something to this rock 'n' roll music. Could it be the beat, the beat, the beat?

So why did I almost forget? I don't know. I suppose I was feeling overprotective. My ears have been tired. Poor ears. They've been through a lot. For years, subjected to one bad band after another. And they almost called it quits as they slipped away to the confines of sleepy folk music or dreamy jazz numbers, and sometimes, fed up with it all, to just the hum of the heater alone.

But a few new albums have kicked my ears back into gear, reminding them not to retire to the countryside just yet. There are still some thrashing, ear-splitting good times to be had.

++ The Domino Records debut album from the Beautiful New Born Children, Hey People!, is a fitful, feedback-soaked mess of '77-era punk rock, sounding a bit like a faster, sloppier and severely more raw version of The Strokes. I know the whole garage/punk rock revival is so 2001, but certain bands defy the odds and eye-rolls by being genuine rock 'n' roll fun — the sneering New Born Children being one of them.

++ Featuring former members of Arab on Radar, Made in Mexico recently released their first album, Zodiac Zoo, on Skin Grafts Records. It is intensely punishing. Like it's lurking in the fiery depths of hell, the album slithers around tough metal-guitar riffs, creepy distortion, a dark, grinding rhythm section and eerie, sometimes growling, female lead vocals. Damaged, angry and bizarre, Made in Mexico are for your weirder moods when you're looking for a good alternative to Sonic Youth spazz-outs.

++ Not too many bands out there are doing anything like The Constantines, who just released their second album, Tournament of Hearts, for Sub Pop (their third overall). The Constantines are all aggressive wrath and fury, slashing away at guitars as if doomsday were around the next corner. Drums are heavy, vocals are low and deceitful, riffs are spiraling, sometimes dissonant and always fuzzed-out. Tournament of Hearts harks back to the no-frills, angry, drone-y rock of grungier times — and it sounds good.

++ Oranger are a rock band of the catchier variety, which inches them a bit closer to the pop category than the aforementioned, but their new album, New Comes and Goes (Eenie Meenie), is still pretty rockin' in an upbeat kinda way. The guitar riffs are hit high and ska-like, but occasionally get down and dirty. The vocals are sweet and heartfelt, and release lyrics with enough rhythm to make you want to sing along. The drums thunder with emotion, the melodies stick and the jingling tambourine shows up every now and then. This is rock's more innocent side (if it has one).

++ I dissed Diamond Nights at first for trying too hard, figuring glam metal is the next big thing and trying to beat the others to the punch. Although The Darkness already took care of that. But I've spent some more time with their debut album, Popsicle (Kemado Records), and, while I could just as easily throw on Judas Priest, AC/DC or Sabbath, I kinda like these guys. Yeah, they steal, but they seem proud of it, as if they're honoring their heroes by keeping good old-fashioned hard rock alive and well. With metal singing like this, the vocalist's shirt had better be ripped open, especially if he's going to hit heights like that. The guitar riffs, menacing and tough, are simply as they should be on any quality metal record. Full of grinding power and brain-eating melodies, Popsicle is the kind of record that could pump you up for a Saturday night or fist fight — it makes me feel young and dumb again.

++ It's easy to get down on music, especially when you're wading knee-deep in the crap. But rock 'n' roll was never meant for the bitter types, so I'm keeping my eyes, my mind, my heart open — how can music be your true love if you don't?
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