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  Listen Up! 7/23/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, July 23

Go Go Market, “Hotel San Jose,” Innerstate Records. Essentially, this is a Chuck Prophet record with a different singer, his girlfriend Stephanie Finch. She’s sung background on his records, so it’s good that she gets a chance to step upfront. She co-writes all the songs but a couple – I think “Annie Oakley” may have been one Prophet recorded himself, but my memory gets fuzzy these days. I found this record to be pleasing, but she doesn’t deliver the vocal personality that he achieves so effortlessly on his own records.

Screaming Trees, “Uncle Anesthesia,” Epic Records. Yeah, I heard it. Nope, I can’t remember anything worth saying about it. It wasn’t painful, by any means.

Djinji Brown, “Sirround Sound,” Seven Heads Recordings. It’s reggae, it’s drum’n’bass, it’s this, it’s that. It’s all about rhythm, and it’s another pleaser, another insubstantial record. Nothing is bothering me today, nothing is gripping me.

The Starting Line, “Say It Like You Mean It,”Drive-Thru Records. Okay, this is bothering me. Good Lord! This is unmitigated crap. It’s a given that punk rock has long since died, having decided to freeze itself into the narrowest genre conventions imaginable, and given up to boot any pretense at having anything original to say. These guys sound exactly like Jimmy Eat World, the ubiquitous alternative radio pop monsters (which I only know because I asked younger employees around me to tell me which ubiquitous alternative pop monster this band sounds exactly like) you’ve heard and hopefully hated for the last year or two. They sound exactly the same because punk rock has divested itself of any imagination or capacity to surprise, and has reduced itself to the narrowest level of teenage emotional fodder about feeling uncomfortable in a world not understandable. And I don’t mean it’s not understandable for any sort of existential or political reason. Nope, it’s not understandable because these kids are like, conforming to society’s expectations by having to go to school, have girlfriends who dump them, and try to find time to play video games. There’s no angst, just rote signifiers of sorrow, the kind they think will get them laid.

A, “Hi-Fi Serious,” Mammoth Records. This record’s almost as bad as the Starting Line, though it rips off more sources – a little Clash-style punk, a little Police-style melodic construction, etc. As such, it’s less annoying, but no less cloying.

--Steve Pick



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