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  Listen Up! 8/15/03 Listen Up!

Friday, Aug. 15

The Swimming Pool Q’s, “Royal Academy of Reality,” Bar None Records. Staying under the radar for nearly 25 years, the Swimming Pool Q’s pop up every once in a while with a new record. It’s still basically the same band that put together the American quirky-pop classic at the beginning of their career (which, if memory serves, was a self-titled album, but it’s been a long time since I’ve pulled it out, frankly). But, the quirks are less obvious now. They still write unusual song structures, but they deliver the material in a more straight-forward manner. Some of these songs are excellent, some fall a little flat. All, however, are idiosyncratic enough to be far outside any movement you could name in rock. Except the one that just focuses on quality, on intelligence, passion, and skill combined. I definitely need to pay some more attention to this one.

Various Artists, “The Rough Guide to the Music of Hawaii,” World Music Network. Well, you’ve gotta prepare yourself for some unusual vocal sounds if you want to listen to Hawaiian music. I thought it was some obscure Pere Ubu record when I first walked upstairs. But, it does make for pleasant background sounds, all those lilting rhythms which the mainland has absorbed in so many ways. Everything sounds so pleasant here. The version of “St. Louis Blues,” played on some slide or steel guitar, is terrific.

Misfits, “Project 1950,” Misfits Records. Hey kids, let’s have a punk rock cover band party. We’ll get Jerry Only, the long-time Misfits bassist and vocalist, and Marky Ramone, and Dez Cadena (who used to be in Black Flag, but you knew that, right?), and let them sing songs like “Dream Lover,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Monster Mash.” Pretty much anybody who’s been able to put up with the Misfits caterwaul all these years will be too young to know these songs, and probably won’t want to hear them, while the rest of us will be too old to appreciate that they’re being done under this long time brand name trademark. Ah well, it’s a fun record, if hardly essential. Only isn’t exactly a crooner, but he tries, and the arrangements are strictly punk rock loud, fueled by the formidable drums of Mr. Ramone.

--Steve Pick


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